Communication Strategy of the Government of Georgia on Georgia’s EU and NATO Membership for 2017-2020
Georgia's membership to the EU and NATO constitutes the top priority for the country's foreign and security policy, which is strongly supported by the majority of the population. It is a firm will of the citizens of Georgia that the country takes its proper place in the European and Euro-Atlantic community, which shares a common civilization and values; that the citizens live in a developed state secured from external threats and which is based on the principles of rule of law and human rights protection.
Pursuant to the Resolution on Foreign Policy of Georgia adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on 29 December 2016, Georgia's EU and NATO membership is of the highest priority, without alternative. Throughout the implementation of the country's foreign policy objectives, special efforts will be directed towards the active management of strategic communications on Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration that will ensure the preservation of high and aware public support for the country's Western orientation.
For the effective implementation of Georgia's foreign policy objectives, as well as in compliance with the Resolution of the Parliament of Georgia, the Government Communication Strategy on Georgia's membership to the EU and NATO has been elaborated. This document prescribes the ways and means necessary to facilitate ensuring public support to the process of Georgia's membership to the EU and NATO, and outlines the role and functions of relevant state agencies responsible for the implementation thereof. Strategic communications on Georgia's membership to the EU and NATO are carried out in accordance with the present strategy and action plan elaborated in compliance thereto.
Kazakhstan New Geopolitics and Its Version of “New Silk Road” – “Bright Road” Strategy
By Daniel Szkarupski and Vakhtang Maisaia
The step landmass of today’s Kazakhstan was a home to nomadic people for a very long time, governed by numerous external forces, for example the empire of the Mongols, the Russian Empire and later on the Soviet Union these nomads were used to being ruled by others rather than to self-govern its territory. This unfortunate trend was broken after the collapse of the USSR when the Republic of Kazakhstan was proclaimed. Kazakh people had a little time to celebrate though as the new challenging times were before them. From the step nomads occupied only with agriculture Kazakh people had to take the role of the host of their own land in the new, unknown, world order that lied ahead.
Each state had to find its own place in the new design of the Eurasia space. For Kazakhstan the formal and planned beginning of this journey was year 1997 when a strategy Kazakhstan 2030 was introduced. Its main goals were to restore an order after the collapse of the Soviet system by transforming into the market economy, preparing an entirely new social system but most of all creating a new Nation in terms of so-called “Noosphere” (Near Sphere), a Nation free from the grasp of foreign influences which was bound to go its own way. This was a strategy outlined during the disturbing times following the downfall of the soviet empire. The most visible symbol of the present day Kazakhstan way to the future emerged in 2012 when the then president Nursultan Nazarbayev in his address to the Nation outlined the Strategy “Kazakhstan 2050” presenting a far-reaching and multidimensional strategy which was bound to guarantee that Kazakhstan will be a prosperous country in various spheres of political existence.
To very first idea which comes to a mind is the geopolitical position between two superpowers, Russia and China, and further a huge European market, this gave Kazakhstan a chance to take a role of the east – west corridor, a role they decided to take without any hesitation. Just two years after announcing Strategy 2050 the authorities published a “Нұрлы Жол” / Bright Path plan to stimulate its economy by modernizing the existing infrastructure and create new roads, railways, ports, airports and IT infrastructure. The estimated budget was nine billion dollars. The major reason behind this initiative was to link with One Belt, One Road programme especially when it comes to the railway modernization. The main aim of the Astana was to serve as a gateway to Europe for the People’s Republic of China. The goal of being a buckle for the One Belt One Road initiative can be marked as achieved, Kazakhstan used its favourable geographical situating to its advantage and it worked perfectly as the Bright Road programme was not just a wishful thinking. Both Kazakh and Chinese officials realized that route through Kazakhstan gives more security and stability than the alternative route through the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring and the offensive of The Islamic State, which both make the region unstable till the the present, broke out. The circumstances were almost ideal for the Government in Astana and this ended up in a dynamic cooperation. Wave of international financing started floating to Kazakhstan from various institutions, for instance, Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the total number of projects carried out in Kazakhstan on 2020-10-05 reached 32. As it can be read in the outline published by the United States International Trade Administration the programme cover a variety of sectors including Architectural, Construction and Engineering Services, development of roads, railways and ports. What is particularly interesting is the case of airports as the number of such facilities with automated control systems is planned to rise from three to fifteen by the end of 2025. All this measures were implemented to strengthen the position of Kazakhstan as a main hub between the Asian space and European market. The first results are already visible in the official statistics of Bureau of National statistics of Kazakhstan, the number of operating railways dropped in 2011 to 14 892 kilometers, however in the following year it raised to 15 333 kilometers and was slowly but constantly increasing to the value of 16 635 km in 2019. The expansion of railway system connecting PRC and Republic of Kazakhstan is not slowing down even during the COVID pandemic as the new railway connecting China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with Nursultan was opened March 13, 2021.
With the development of infrastructure, the second strategical direction of expanding the trade by exporting should be an easy task, yet this was not a case in this particular area of development. According to statistics by the World Trade Organization there was a continuous growth in value of the export however since 2013 a constant drop can be observed, the decline ranged from 84,700 million dollars to 36,685 million dollars in 2016, a slight improvement occurred in the two-year period preceding the outbreak of COVID-19 to drop again when the pandemic started. This drop may put a strain on a formidably ambitious plan of the ex-president Nazarbayev, in his vision place Kazakhstan would be on the list of thirty most developed countries in the world in just thirty-eight years. The COVID -19 outbreak is bound to delay those plan as it had a deteriorating effect on both global and local economies alike.
Much stress was put on economics and building the welfare of Kazakh, however, this point was not the only goal set in the aforementioned document, politicians in Astana realized that after Bolsheviks imposed a Russian cultural code in their homeland a tactic to counter the effects of the Soviet Russia policy has to be implemented. The main effect of the USSR’s ulve over Eurasia was making a Russian language dominant in this region, changing this situation by 2025 was one of the milestones presented in the main document by Nazarbayev. The whole idea of restoring a national Kazakh diversity and tradition was directly named as creating a New Kazakhstan Patriotism. Despite the plan to adjust itself to the wide trend of globalization the government thrives in the concept of New Kazakhstan Patriotism based on non-communist origin till the present day.
Being a largest landlocked country beside Russia in what sir Halford Mackinder described as Heartland required a lot of intelligent and long distance planning, on one hand Kazakhstan was strongly connected with Russia through the seventy years of the Soviet dominance in that region, on the other, it faced being a fully independent country on the border of two pan-regions, that is, Russian and Japanese as the Haushofer presented it in his works although in the XXI century it should be called rather a China pan-region as the shift of political and cultural power occurred in this area. Putting a currently dominating political and cultural center of power aside, Kazakhstan quickly realized that isolation is not an option, just as the states in Central Europe realized full security depends on NATO and to some extent on the European Union the eastern people decided to join new international organizations of both military and civil nature such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations. Such a wide range of alliances clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Kazakh’s state is based on multilateral relations.
A quick look at the map and yet another important issue can be observed, the geographical position is crucial not only in trade but also in defence, Kazakhstan position on the map makes it buffer zone between Russia and regions which show an instability in comparison to the Kazakh’s state. Losing such a “soft underbelly” as Churchill called similar phenomena in Europe would open a way for a potentially hostile forces to both European and West Siberian Plains, such a threat combined with growing tension with NATO alliance would shake the entire Russian defensive system grounded in favourable geography which saved Soviets during World War Two when they evacuated their industry behind the immense wall of the Ural Mountains. This gives the Kazakhstan authorities a leverage on Russia as they may be crucial to many major players in the world.
With the initial success of the Bright Road strategy in the field of infrastructure and not having too much of a success in the field of export, the government in Nur-Sultan decided it will not only serve as a hub between bigger players but also it has to build its own regional power. Allowing foreign investors to enter their market resulted in taking yet another step in ensuring a growth of the Kazakh’s economy as well as its attachment to the global supply chains, a perfect example of such a cooperation occurred on March 26, 2021 when a factory of KIA was opened in Kustanay in the presence of the then Prime Minister Askar Mamin, thanks to this factory and cooperation between KIA and KAMAZ PTC the government is showing the realization of their grand strategy in practice as the increase of welfare and industrial development are considered one of the key branches of the “Kazakhstan 2050” and “Нұрлы Жол” strategies.
Encouraging big, international capital to invest in Kazakhstan was one of the steps to boost its economy, however, the government set out a special position for small and medium-sized enterprises, the strategy assumed that those will constitute 50 % of GDP till 2021, as it could be observed this part of the strategy was not achieved as planned, the increase of small and medium sized companies is visible, as it moved form 10,5 percent in 2005 to nearly 32 percent in 2019 showing that the Kazakh Government takes the realization of the Nazarbayev’ s plan with a great dose of persistence even as the pandemic continues. The recent meeting of the state Commission of Economic Growth clearly indicates that the state is going to continue the strategy to aid the native companies survive by deferring tax, bank loans and microcredits payments during the Covid 19 crisis in order to help the native economy get back on track after the virus is contained in the region.
Implemented strategy and programmes bound to carry it out were originally oriented to the east and west, nevertheless, they may not be the only directions which Nur-Sultan is having in mind, recent visit of Roman Sklyar at XVI meeting of Intergovernmental Kazakh-Tajik Commission on Economic Cooperation clearly indicated that the cooperation between Kazakhstan and its smaller neighbors is to be maintained and developed, it is obvious that in the minds of Astana’s decision makers it is their country that will play a leading role as a regional power. Going even further, Kazakhstan authorities turn their eyes into the Middle East, no strategic document concerning this vector of expansion was released, and however, the recent visit to United Arab Emirates may indicate that Kazakhstan is planning to expand in the axis south – north as well. In addition to existing geopolitical position of Kazakhstan a new potential way of advancing is likely to occupy the thoughts of politicians in the Eurasia, including Mamin’s Government, namely the Northern Sea Route which is strongly advertised by Russia, opening a new sea route is something that has not happened on such a scale since the great geographical discoveries of XV and XVI centuries. The recent incident in the Suez Canal served as a trigger to yet another wave of promoting this new, cold sea road as an ideal alternative for sea routes widely used in the XXI century.
To summarize all of the above, both the “Strategy 2050” and “Bright Road” initiative proved to be a well-designed document which evaluated the geopolitical potential properly and outlined the directions in which the new, independent Kazakhstan, should proceed in the XXI century. It cannot be denied that certain aspects of the plan were not achieved, nevertheless, the persistence combined with the ability to adjust to the dynamically changing circumstances occurring in the Eurasian space paved the way for the Kazakhstan to be a self-governed regional player which uses its geopolitical advantages in a variety of the spheres of the country’s current political existence and further development.
EU to extend sanctions against Belarus and Iran for supporting Russian war against Ukraine, says von der Leyen
The European Union will extend its sanctions, announced in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, to those who militarily support Russia’s war, such as Belarus or Iran. This was announced by the Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference today following the signing of the Third EU-NATO Joint Declaration on Cooperation.
“The European Union will keep doing everything in its power to support the brave people of Ukraine. We will keep the pressure on the Kremlin for as long as it takes with the biting sanctions regime,” said von der Leyen. “We will be coming forward with new sanctions on Belarus answering Belarus’ role in this Russian war in Ukraine.”
She also confirmed that the EU will continue its “substantial humanitarian economic and Security Assistance to Ukraine as long as it is necessary”.
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THE GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO NATO PA HOLDS BILATERAL MEETINGS IN MADRID
The Parliamentary Delegation, headed by the Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Beraia held the bilateral meetings within the NATO PA sessions.
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, Georgian MPs met with the representatives of Sweden, Finland, Turkey and Estonia and dwelt on the regional security and security challenges of Georgia, the Russian war against Ukraine, the Russian occupation and its consequences, as well as the conventional and hybrid threats that Georgia encounters.
Georgian MPs underlined the necessity of Georgia’s NATO integration and the acceleration of this decision emphasizing the necessity to further enhance the countering the security and hybrid threats for the national defense of Georgia.
According to I. Beraia, providing the drastically aggravated security milieu, the partners well realize the importance of Georgia’s membership, which makes Georgia optimistic.
“The NATO allies can make a brave decision in case of their political will and it is a good signal for us that Georgia’s NATO membership can be accelerated, which is the ultimate goal we look forward since the value-based choice of the Georgian citizens is to become a NATO member. We dwelt on the value of Georgia for NATO against the background of the increased threats in the region. We stressed that Georgia has not only the will but the capacity and experience to contribute to NATO security. When our partners aspire to diversify the energy resources and enhance the connection between the East and West, it increases the role of Georgia as a NATO member state. The partners strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country and pledged to further support us in all the formats and at all international platforms and in international organizations”, - I. Beraia stated.
The parties touched upon bilateral relations, Parliamentary cooperation and exchange visits.
The Georgian Delegation is composed of the First Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Giorgi Khelashvili and the Deputy Chairs of the Defense Committee, Vladimir Chachibaia and Teona Akubardia.
Prime Minister’s meeting with NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia
Georgia’s progress toward Euro-Atlantic integration and the key directions on the NATO-Georgia relations agenda were the main topics discussed at today’s meeting between Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Javier Colomina.
Irakli Garibashvili and Javier Colomina spoke about the supportive measures tailored to Georgia and seeking to expand the country’s defense capabilities even further.
Attention was paid to NATO’s new Strategic Concept. As it was noted, the concept reiterates NATO’s unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial sovereignty and emphasizes the strategic importance of the Black Sea to the Alliance.
According to the Prime Minister, Georgia has always been one of the most reliable and capable partners of the Alliance, making a tremendous contribution to common Euro-Atlantic security. Irakli Garibashvili underlined that, over the years, Georgia has achieved significant progress on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
The conversation touched on the ongoing war in Ukraine and the complex security environment in the region and the world. Irakli Garibashvili and Javier Colomina discussed the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the Georgian Government’s commitment to the policy of peaceful conflict resolution.
The meeting at the Government Administration was attended by the Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, Alexander Vinnikov, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, and the Head of the Georgian Mission to NATO, Victor Dolidze.Press Service of the Government Administration
The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package Core Team Discusses Crisis Management Initiative
The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) aims to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself and advance in its preparations for NATO membership. Since its endorsement by NATO Heads of State and Government, relevant representatives have been working together to further Georgia’s defense capabilities, increase its interoperability with NATO, and support Georgia’s integration in the alliance.
This week, members of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) Core Team met with representatives of the National Crisis Management Center (Department) of the Office of National Security Council for discussions related to SNGP’s Crisis Management Initiative, which is led by Denmark.