It is a great honor for me, as the Minister of Defence, to host you at the 13th Georgia Defence and Security Conference, within which we will be able to discuss the security challenges facing us and to openly discuss ways to resolve them.
First of all, let me begin by commending the efforts of the Ministry of Defence and the active support of our partner countries and organizations. The Conference has established itself as a far-reaching, significant platform for addressing contemporary regional and international defense and security issues.
We live in an era, where our capabilities and opportunities, grow simultaneously with more dynamic and diverse security challenges; hence demanding our constant attention and adequate response. We realize that the world dynamics are more important to us today than ever and we need to have a clear-eyed awareness of that global completion environment that is continuously responding in the political, economic, and military domains.
Within that context the Georgia Defence and Security Conference is focusing this year on the evolving importance and issues related to the security environment in the Black Sea region. We want to spotlight on the NATO commitments to reinforce its eastern borders by enhancing deterrence of the allies, and the role of Georgia in upholding regional stability while contributing to international security efforts.
I am confident that debates and discussions will be of outstanding quality, as we address these issues from the very country whose 20 percent of the territory is occupied by Russian Forces, where the so called ‘borderization’ of the Administrative Boundary Line is ongoing and where Russia continues its destabilizing and destructive malign activities. And this is a geostrategic region of vital importance to many countries:
- Where, since history remembers, East has been meeting the West;
- Where this region has been a major intersection of diverse cultures and routes for various purposes;
- Where the Black Sea region now represents a significant and increasingly vital piece of the overall security puzzle in the Euro-Atlantic security architecture;
- And Where Georgia, as an indivisible part of this picture and a key partner to the U.S. and NATO, is ever developing, is ever-strengthening and is focused on joining the security circle.
On its path towards the NATO and EU membership, with significant support from our strategic partners, Georgia is dedicated to further enhance its transformation process, in order to build a stronger, more efficient and effective defence system, strengthen operational capabilities and to achieve maximum compatibility with NATO in order to protect our territorial integrity and maintain our national sovereignty.
This process hasn’t been easy, against the background of the demanding security situation we face. Nevertheless, we are proud to say that we have been successful in upholding democratic values, rule of law, advancing our defence capabilities and at the same time remaining committed to contributing to international security efforts.
We firmly believe that our Strength is in Unity; unity within Georgia and with our international partnerships. That strength is manifested in our commitment, coherence and consistency. Together, with joint and complementing efforts, we will build a more stable, secure environment for our future generations. The dialogue for the next two days during our planned sessions and during the social interaction outside of the sessions will be important to our collective understanding and our building of that strength. And I look forward to the opportunities presented therein.
Having said this, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to conclude by thanking the personnel of the Ministry of Defence, for their immense efforts to organize this event and all of our partners — the Munich Security Conference, the Royal Institute for the United Kingdom Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), the Polish Embassy, as the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Georgia— for their outstanding support and assistance. We are truly honored and look forward to continued cooperation in the future.
Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to honorable speakers and Conference attendees. I believe that this year’s GDSC will address pressing issues and generate innovative approaches to the challenges on our common security agenda.
Now I would like to pass the floor to our special honorable guests, who have been strong supporters and dedicated friends of Georgia, whose contributions continue to be vital for Georgia’s development as well as for the development of Georgia’s Defence Forces self-defense and resilience capabilities, Congressman Adam Kinzinger and the Commander of the United States Army Europe, General Christopher Cavoli.