Dr. Khatuna Burkadze - Georgia as a Black Sea littoral state is strategically significant for the West


Interpressnews discussed the results of the NATO Defense Ministerial, the importance of the visit of the U.S.Secretary of Defense to Georgia and Georgia’s grand strategy with Prof. Dr. Khatuna Burkadze, Director of American and Euro-Atlantic Studies at Geocase, an alumna of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Harvard Program on Negotiations.


- On October 21-22, 2021 NATO Defense Ministerial was held at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Within the Ministerial NATO Defence Ministers agreed to NATO’s first-ever strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI). What are the goals of this strategy?

- The strategy outlines how AI can be applied to defense and security and promotes setting legal and ethical standards for the use of AI. This decision has illustrated once again that information and communications technologies have profoundly changed the nature of battles, the notion of warfare. The involvement of robots in military operations is a reality due to the rapid technological advances. Artificial intelligence is a real instrument to provide automatic routine tasks in different fields (healthcare, education, the justice system, foreign and security policies, etc.).

Artificial Intelligence is changing the global defense and security environment. The power of artificial intelligence means using it more effectively in the process of analyzing big data. It promotes the creation of digital equivalents of workers with automatic routine task capabilities. Regardless of opportunities, artificial intelligence may pose some risks and challenges as well. Overall, the technological advances affect the three core tasks of the Alliance: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.

NATO and Allies will also conduct regular high-level dialogues, engaging technology companies at a strategic political level to create a common understanding of the opportunities and risks arising from AI. AI applications will be developed and used in accordance with international and national laws including human rights law.

AI applications will be understandable and transparent, including through the use of review methodologies, sources, and procedures. The strategy also considers establishing NATO and national certification procedures. Proactive steps will be taken to minimize any unintended bias in the development and use of AI applications. AI applications should be provided with objective information. Based on such information, robots would be able to make the right conclusions.

- What kind of steps should Georgia take as an aspirant country of the Alliance to develop Artificial Intelligence?

- In the digital era Georgia should develop AI policy based on the international experience. The development of AI policy would facilitate the adoption of the legal framework with the focus of safeguarding fundamental rights and the establishment of an institutional mechanism for avoiding the utilization of high-risk applications.

Allies also signed an agreement on the establishment of a NATO Innovation Fund. The Alliance will invest 1 billion euros with innovators across the Alliance working on emerging and disruptive technologies. I suppose that the Innovation Fund will assist partner states of NATO including Georgia to implement innovative projects in the future.

-Russia announced the closure of its mission to NATO. In terms of growing tensions between Russia and NATO, how do you evaluate the decision of the NATO Defense Ministerial on deterring Russian aggressive actions?

-The Defense Ministers of NATO endorsed a new overarching plan to defend allies in crisis and conflict and to protect one billion people from any threat including threats coming from the Russian Federation.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg paid special attention to Russia's destabilizing behavior. “We are implementing a balanced package of political and military measures to respond to this threat", Stoltenberg said. This package includes important improvements to alliance air and missile defenses. It also calls for strengthening conventional capabilities, adapting exercises and intelligence.

At the NATO Defense Ministerial, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin underscored that America’s commitment to Article 5 remains ironclad. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that Russia remains the greatest disturber of the peace in Europe and the relations between the Alliance and Russia are now at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

- Did the Alliance make the statement regarding Georgia, especially in the context of NATO Open Door Policy at the Ministerial?

- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Georgia remains a highly valued partner of the Alliance. He mentioned that his Special Representative, Javier Colomina is a very experienced diplomat who can contribute to strengthening the partnership between NATO and Georgia.

Also, the Alliance underscores that the foreign policy course is free from outside interference. According to international law, all states have the right to independently define foreign policy priorities. Therefore, the Russian Federation should respect the choice of sovereign states.

-You paid attention to the statement of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Before visiting Brussels Lloyd Austin arrived in Tbilisi, Ukraine and Romania. How do you assess the results of the visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to Georgia?

-The visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has demonstrated that the U.S. continues to assist Georgia to enhance its defense and security capabilities especially in terms of increasingly aggressive actions of the Russian Federation. The U.S. Defense Secretary reaffirmed America’s steadfast support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He paid special attention to the necessity of the implementation of 2008 ceasefire commitments by the Russian side.

This visit has encouraged to launch a new initiative. The U.S. Defense Secretary and the Georgian Defense Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the new Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative (GDDEI). It has illustrated that the U.S. is not only a strategic partner for Georgia, but also America is a strategic ally in the field of defense and security for us. GDDEI demonstrates the significance of the U.S.- Georgia relations. It aims to continue the modernization of the Georgian defense forces. GDDEI focuses on strengthening Georgia’s defense capabilities and fostering interoperability with NATO. This initiative will play an important role to achieve our Euro-Atlantic goals as well.

Also, the U.S. Defense Secretary expressed gratitude for Georgia’s significant contributions to the U.S. and NATO efforts to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.

-In the changed security environment how should we achieve our foreign policy goals?

- Georgia as a Black Sea littoral state is strategically significant for the West. The European tour of the U.S. Defense Secretary has shown it. This visit was important in the regional context as well. After the trip to Georgia, the U.S. Defense Secretary visited Ukraine, Romania, and Brussels within NATO Defense Ministerial. Furthermore, "The security and stability of the Black Sea are in the national interest of the United States and are critical to the security of NATO's eastern flank,” said Secretary Austin. In this regard, it is crucial to enhance regional cooperation among the Black Sea allies to develop maritime capacities.

Overall, Georgia should develop a grand strategy to ensure its interests. Also, we need to obtain a new function in the digital age and provide a common understanding of the impact of information and communications technologies on various fields including healthcare, education, the justice system, foreign and security policies. At the same time, it is vital to realize Georgia's potential as a regional hub. We need to develop the country's infrastructure, transport, logistics, energy, education and financial hub systems. It is essential to enhance trade relations with the European Union. Also, concluding a free-trade agreement between Georgia and the United States would encourage greater American investment in Georgia and deepen relations in the security sphere as well. Simultaneously, strengthening democratic institutions and protecting human rights are preconditions for the enhancement of relations with the allies, partners. Regardless of the challenges through democratic reforms, support of partners and implementation of strategically important projects we will be able to achieve our foreign policy goals on the path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The mission is possible if we have the right strategy and we can consolidate appropriate efforts.