Georgian Defence Conference
The Georgian Defence Conference held in February in the city of Batumi, like its predecessors, sought to give interested parties the opportunity to discuss the existing security environment in Georgia and the ongoing defence reforms in its armed forced. At the Forum, organized by the Georgian Defence Ministry, a wide range of delegations from Georgia and foreign countries were given the opportunity to hold open discussions on new challenges in the global security sphere.
The conference has become a yearly tradition, and the number of delegates attending the event has grown year to year. This year, the conference was proud to welcome distinguished, high-ranking representatives from NATO, the USA and other partner countries, as well as members of the diplomatic corps. The list of the guests at the Conference also included representatives from Georgian governmental and non-governmental agencies, the parliamentary majority and opposition parties, and independent experts in the defence and security sphere.
Within the framework of the two-day conference, a range of important issues were discussed, including NATO after the Lisbon Summit, global security challenges, defence reforms, the Georgian reserve system and defence transformation and transparency. An emphasis was made on the new reserve and civil defence systems, and the Strategic Review Document renewed by Georgian Defence Ministry, which reports on progress on aspects of national security relating to defence, and outlines the Georgian Armed Forces plans for development up to 2015.
Delegates at the conference had a good opportunity to discuss not only Georgian defence issues, but also broader security questions. The Vice-Minister of National Defence of Lithuania, Vytautas Umbrasas told Defence Today: “I feel that this conference was very useful and very positive. I hope, as I heard from the [Georgian] Deputy Defence Minister, it will continue to become a larger, broader and deeper event every year. I hope that next year will also have many good speakers, meetings and opportunities to discuss important security questions. It is very important for Georgia, and for the region, and maybe for other regions as well,” Umbrasas explained.
The conference was opened by the Georgian State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Mr. Giorgi Baramidze. In his opening remarks the minister spoke about the significance of the meeting. The Chairman of the Civil Council on Defence and Security, Mr. Erekle Mchedlishvili, highlighted the transparency and active participation of public society in the ongoing processes in the defence sphere.
In his speech, NATO General Director of the International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Jurgen Bornemann discussed such topics as NATO’s new functions, current challenges and future vision after the Lisbon Summit, as well the importance of the ISAF operation and Georgia’s participation in the mission.
One of the major topics for the conference was Georgia’s new reserve system and issues concerning civil defence. The Deputy Head of J-5, a division of the Joint Staff of Georgia, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Begoidze, and member of the parliamentary opposition, Nick Laliashvili, shared their opinions on the issue. Major General William T. Nesbitt made an interesting presentation on the American reserve system.
The fifth panel of the conference discussed defence transparency and the public’s contribution to the security decision-making process.
The UK Special Defence Advisor to the Georgian Defence Ministry, Mr. Steven Glover, presented his vision of British defence and security, and how it related to the Georgian strategic review document. The Head of the Planning and Analysis Department of the Chamber of Control of Georgia, Mr. Levan Alapishvili, concluded the conference thematically, reviewing issues related to the state budget and defence reforms.
The Georgian Defence Conference 2011, held in Batumi, will be remembered for the attendance of many high-ranking dignitaries, interesting discussion, the sharing of experiences and planning for the future. The conference is one more step forward for Georgia in terms of deepening regional and international cooperation in the security sphere.