NATO Days in Georgia
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Wednesdady, April 18
On April 16, the "NATO Days" have started in Georgia. The event is organized by the "Information Center on NATO and the European Union", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, "NATO Liaison Office in Georgia" and the Embassy of Bulgaria in Georgia. NATO Days was attended by the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, members of the Minister Cabinet and representatives of legislative and executive authorities.
The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili addressed the guests and talked about Georgia's aspiration to integrate with NATO and the importance of this decision. Margvelasvhili stated that membership of NATO is a choice of Georgian people and the relevant governmental structures are functioning with a full understanding of this purpose. He also added that Georgia's participation in NATO peacekeeping missions is appreciated by our partners: “It has been repeatedly mentioned that Georgia's involvement in the Black Sea security discussions is adequate and Georgia is ready to carry out the responsibilities to maintain stability and protection of the region and the world. This is an important year for us, we are preparing for another important summit and we hope that the issue of Georgia will be presented adequately," Margvelashvili stated.
In his greeting speech, the President also mentioned an ongoing information warfare against NATO and western values that require more active involvement and response. He noted that this is the political reality not only for Georgia but also for other NATO member states, and in this reality, everyone should unite around the goal to raise awareness of society about NATO and Georgia's joint values.
The Vice Prime Minister of Georgia Mikheil Janelidze also addressed the guests and stated that the aim of the NATO Days is to inform the population about the achievements of Georgia in the Euro-Atlantic integration process and NATO-Georgia cooperation.
According to the Minister, the Department of NATO integration was created in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Main function of the department is to enhance the integration process. He also mentioned the role of the Department of Strategic Communications, which is focused on establishing effective communication within the country and that has a crucial role especially in conditions of a growing anti-Western propaganda.
It is noteworthy that NATO Days will be celebrated in the regions of Georgia, and with the initiative of Information Center of NATO, EU and Ministry of Foreign affairs, various activities aim at raising awareness of local population will take place.
Such informative events are important for Georgia, as the country going through the hybrid war. Russia is carrying out an aggressive propaganda campaign to change the pro-Western attitudes of Georgian population. In response to this propaganda, it is crucially important to increase awareness of citizens about NATO and the EU values.
According to the research, trust of citizens towards NATO has reduced due to various factors, mainly because of Russian information warfare. According to the survey conducted by National Democratic Institute (NDI), from 2013, the number of NATO supporters decreased by 12%. According to the survey, in 2016, 68% of respondents agree that Georgia should become a member of NATO. As for the result in 2013, 80% of respondents agreed Georgia's NATO membership.
An interesting indicator of the population's attitude change was revealed in NDI survey, according to which, 41% of Georgian population think that Russia has stronger military power than the US. 36% believe that US military capabilities are higher than Russia's, and 15% think that these two countries are equally strong.
The presented data is the result of the informative warfare. The process is aiming at altering the public opinion of the citizens and is carried out using different instruments through various actors, whether it is non-governmental organizations, pro-Russian politicians, or the pro-Russian wing of the Georgian Orthodox church.
Military confrontation has been replaced by a hybrid war, which means combining different methods to achieve a desired result. Russia's aim is to restore influence over Georgia and to return the country to its own orbit. If the hybrid war carried out by Russian Federation is not interfered, it is possible that the existing pro-Russian and anti-Western public opinion increases.