The messenger logo

New concept, same misconceptions?

Tuesday, September 30
Amendments to the Georgian national security concept, first adopted in 2004, should be made in the near future. These have been made necessary by the Russian aggression and its results. A new military doctrine will also be adopted as part of this process.

The Georgian leadership is pretty sure that such changes are urgently needed. The opposition and political analysts agree that they are absolutely necessary but insist that the broader spectrum of society, political parties and experts should be involved in the formulation of the new concept, not a limited group of people or, even worse, only one person.

The Georgian national security concept was hastily adopted in 2004 to satisfy one of the demands of the NATO integration programme. It proved to be not well thought out, with inadequate formulas for identifying possible threats. For instance it excluded the possibility of large scale aggression against the country, such as that which took place last month. The Georgian authorities try to defend themselves by saying that such developments could not have been predicted by either themselves or international experts. They say that many other countries are now having to urgently amend their national security concepts. To an extent all this is true, but that does not excuse Georgia, as the authorities themselves know very well.

The Georgian leadership could again adopt a new security concept in the same rash way but the opposition and analysts are entirely against this. “The old concept was formulated by poorly qualified and unrespectable people who did not understand which country they were living in. It is good that the old concept can be improved upon but bad that ill-qualified people are still involved” thinks one of Republican leaders, Levan Berdzenishvili. Former Defence Minister Gia Quarquarashvili is more dramatic, predicting that the document when prepared could be “thrown into the waste bin.” Military commentator Giorgi Tavdgiridze is also skeptical. “The old concept became invalid in just four years. If the same people are taking the relevant decisions now …they may not notice the threats today either,” he says.

Another military analyst, Giorgi Melitauri, considers that we have not clearly identified our national interests so far. The document enumerates those national interests but in very general terms. More transparency is needed, says Melitauri. If the authorities do not hold any public discussion on the new national security concept, and ignore the demands of the analysts and the opposition, this will lead to yet more criticism of the leadership.

Tavdgiridze warns that certain threats from Russia still exist: the possible further escalation of the conflict, provocations, the encouraging of terrorism. He thinks that the country has to decide to either concentrate on developing its own armed forces or integrating into collective security systems. It appears that the authorities are more inclined towards building up the army, but analysts suggest that it would take around 10-12 years and huge financial input to bring the army up to the required level. Georgia will therefore have to ensure its safety through its alliances with friendly countries.

The results of the Russian aggression have been devastating in many respects. Vice Premier Giorgi Baramidze has stated that “Russian aggression is continuous.” It has certainly turned our security concept upside down, as Russia’s moves have proven absolutely unpredictable and illogical and have rendered any formula for logically calculating threats redundant. All this ultimately means that Georgia has once again sacrificed itself to unmask Russia for the rest of the world. That ‘rest of the world’ should now be learning appropriate lessons from this.