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Guram Nikolaishvili: Small nations and cultures like us, may disappear so that the world will not even notice it

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On 7th November, the minister of defense of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili made a speech on the Defense and Security Conference where he touched the country’s Euro-Atlantic prospects and strivings and declared that today Russia confronts this process through a strong disinformation. According to Irakli Garibashvili, in order such a propaganda not to achieve at its objectives and, for strengthening a public confidence to the state institutions, a correct information is to be distributed for the population: “Russia uses a very sophisticated hybrid methods, spreads disinformation regarding NATO-Georgia relations, to feed the society with this false information… We must confront it. An idea is that the ministry of defense will open 17 very advanced offices in all regions, that, as we think, will increase a level of awareness and popularity of military service… “ 

As Garibashvili explains that if not the “Russian propaganda and disinformation” that as if is creating false imaginations about the Euro-Atlantic direction, people could have much more reliable belief in integration into the alliance. Moreover, is follow his (Garibashvili’s) rhetoric the actively raising anti-liberal moods in the population are also the result of the same propaganda, otherwise, in real, the Georgian people is ready to accept unconditionally all “liberal” changes dictated from the west…

For note: Several days ago, the president of France Emmanuel Macron in his interview with “The Economist”, when speaking about the perspectives of the Alliance, declared that the developments taking place recently in the international arena, is “Brain Death of NATO”: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO…” He explained also that Europe should create a new defense and security system for forming itself as a geopolitical power and not to miss the “possibility of controlling its own faith” on the background of these critical global transformations

What are the NATO’s perspectives today and how realistic is the statement of the defense minister about the North Atlantic future of Georgia? Former Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Guram Nikolaishvili is discussing these topic with us.

– Mr. Guram, a few days ago, defense minister Irakli Garibashvili declared in one of his speeches that the Russian propaganda with its powerful disinformation fights against the Euro-Atlantic prospects of Georgia. According to Garibashvili, the state must oppose this propaganda with a due public awareness, that, as if will protect the society against influence of disinformation and, on he other hand will increase a confidence to the state institutions. Is this statement realistic? What do you think, where is seen a trace of such propaganda?

– I do not know what di Mr. Garibashvili mean in his statement, but, in the politics, everything is defined by specific facts, statistics, and precedents. Everything is comparable and, this comparison, is first of all measured by results. Now, if we speak about propaganda and disinformation, then we should substantiate our viewpoints. Otherwise, any such statements are just empty words and nothing more. This is one. And second: when the minister says that the Russian propaganda made the society blind and practically slowed the foreign course declared by the country’s political leadership, by this he recognizes an advantage of this propaganda. What comes out? Is the public more likely to believe the lies told by Russian propaganda than the truth provided by “just, fair and democratic western media”?! where is logic here? However, I can understand also that the county’s leadership that is now facing the political crisis, needs similar populism and demagogy”

As for the directly NATO and our country’s Euro-Atlantic prospects I would like to start from rather far. Several days ago, the president of France Emmanuel Macron in his interview with one of the influential magazine, declared that the developments taking place recently in the international arena, is “Brain Death of NATO”. He explained in particular that it is not first time when he makes this idea public , and that on the background of these critical global geopolitical transformations, which are first of all related to Trump’s views about the NATO’s future, Europe should create a new defense and security system. He did not hesitate to say that as time goes on, NATO is not Europe’s guarantee of security. Now, why I provide the above statement: When we listen assessments that as if the skepticism, doubts and distrust spread in the population regarding the country’s prospects to the Euro-Atlantic future is a result of a some kind of propaganda, a simple question arises: What is behind the result of skepticism the first person of France expresses so openly regarding the same organization?

– Does not our government understand the real reasons of skepticism spread in the society?

– The government is completely missing the global geopolitical reality and is continuing the old-fashioned rhetoric that is absolutely inconsistent with this reality. I think Garibashvili’s statement too is a part of this discourse. He personally probably knows perfectly well what is happening in real. By the way, on the same conference, the statement of almost similar content made Archil Talakvadze, as well, who practically word-by-word repeated that as if Russian disinformation is prevailing in the country I. already told earlier and want to repeat it now once again: I have no personal problems with Garibashvili and Talakvadze, but, without any ironical mood I want to ask both of them: In which this Russian disinformation is seen? I am really want to hear their arguments on this issue. Now about real reasons of skepticism in the society, which sees that all – NATO, EU, other leading western institutions openly say about a necessity of normalization of our relations with Russia. Besides, Trumps/ strong position is that the US must not be the largest contributor to the Alliance and that all the Alliance members should contribute to its budget 2% of their GDP. Taking into account all this and some other circumstances, a natural question arises: If the largest and most powerful member state of ATO is not interested in preserving this Alliance in the currently existing form if it is not convenient for it and sees its strategic interests in other, different geopolitical reality, why do we believe in our Euro-Atlantic prospects? Is not it simple? Should we be hopeful of the Alliance which leadership declares that their security is not protected and that a new system of security is needed?!

– Several days ago Garibashvili declared that the budget for the defense is being increasing. Probably in line with such increase our representations in the international security missions will be increased as well?

– Anyway, as I am informed, a work is going on for not to reduce a size of such representation. However, this is another topic. As for the statement by the defense minister about increase of the defense budget, somebody may think that we move ahead, that our military forces become stronger, but it is not so. The fact is hat a rate of inflation ion the country is catastrophically high , the national currency is depreciating day-by-day. Besides, salaries for personnel increased, plus 2,25 must be spent for purchasing new weapons, which, nobody knows, whether is needed really or not for Georgia. Anyway, we do not know whether or not the armament already purchased and will be purchased in future, is a compensation we suffered as a result of practical abolition of the maritime and air forces. By the way, recently the Audit Office entered in the Defense Ministry that revealed so serious shortcomings in the budget that you even cannot imagine. They speak about 730 MIO GEL deficit, nobody knows where and for what these sums were spent. These so called reforms in the military forces, purchases of as if new weapons and conservation of the old ones – is a very vague process that creates lots of questions, however, certain information leaks from the ministry and, permanent talks are on behind the scene about the so called elite corruption. In general, we see that substitutions of leadership – ministers. deputy ministers, take place by years, in the ministry, but, the problems remain unchanged. One of such big problems was and is, for example, that our Academy of Defense cannot train commanders – a full chaos. Such the situation exists there for years. Which standard can we speak about, Nobody is interested.

– Probably all understand that Georgia has no prospects towards the Euro-Atlantic direction. Which political course and orientation may be better for Georgia today?

– I have already indicated earlier and want to repeat it now in this interview too, that military neutrality political platform is the most optimal solution for a small country in so difficult geopolitical areal, where we are now . Now, somebody may argue, on what kind of neutrality can we speak when one third of our territory is lost. At first, the lost of territories is a result that we turned our country into political instrument and the second, let’s think realistically: What will happen after 10-15 years of we continue moving to the current course and turn ourselves in one more hot point of political confrontations between the big counties? Believe, such big countries as USA, Russia, or Chione, will never confront each other directly and, if happen so, confrontations will not take place on their territories but somewhere far – on the territories of third countries, for example, like 9n 2008 in Georgia, then in Ukraine, then in Syria, etc. This is the principle of a global politics and nothing is surprising here. We just understand simply, what may happen with such a small nation like we are, in case of confrontation between the giant states. Small nations and cultures like us, can disappear in this process so that the world will not even notice it…

Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania

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