Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has addressed the virtual summit for democracy, hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Below is the full speech delivered by President Zourabichvili:
“I would like to thank President Biden for initiating such an important summit.
One could not have thought a more appropriate moment to launch this initiative, for democracy is today confronted by serious challenges and new threats, to the point that we could say that there is a war declared against democracy.
A war which we need all of us to confront with more political will and determination, more consensus in our societies and more solidarity between nations.
Every day democracies across the globe are confronted by significant threats that aim at undermining the progress achieved internally, while challenging the law-based international world order:
Unresolved conflicts, military clashes, territorial disputes, occupation and frozen conflicts hinder the democratization process, challenge the international order, peace and stability.
In addition, new and non-traditional threats have emerged, primarily targeting democratic institutions. Democracies across the globe are now faced with hybrid warfare methods that include cyber-attacks, disinformation, and targeted economic pressures and coercions to name a few.
New threats like the Covid pandemic have also been challenging the ability of democracies to find the right balance between protecting the health of society and preserving individual freedoms.
Last but not least, democracies are also attacked from within. Polarization, fake news and hate speech not only fuel internal divisions, but also undermine public institutions and democratic processes including trust in elections or in the media, two of the pillars of democracy.
Georgia is subject to all these threats to various degrees: Russia still occupies 20 % of its territories where human rights and democracy ignored.
As a small country, we are even more vulnerable to all hybrid threats and even more in need of international solidarity.
And the recent past has shown that the polarization has directly affected our democratic institutions and processes.
That is why, we feel the urge to respond, react to these challenges and move forward on the path chosen by Georgia 30 years ago, which has led us through multiple difficulties towards democracy, stability and progress.
This path has been successful and has made Georgia a reliable partner of NATO and an associated partner of the European Union.
In this light, the Georgian Government has committed to the following reforms, notably:
Implement further judicial and electoral reform through an inclusive process.
Adopt the new National Human Rights Strategy, the National Action Plan on Combating Violence against Women, and the National Concept document on Women’s Economic Empowerment.
The steps are important.
I look forward to reporting back on them next year, as they reflect the historic commitment of Georgia to democratic consolidation.
But these commitments, as important as they are, will remain insufficient and flawed if we do not find a way to overcome polarization, hate and division that have taken hold of our country – and we are no exception.
As the President of Georgia, I, therefore, pledge to initiate an inclusive process, a national conversation involving all of society to find the way to achieve a shared understanding of recent history, to help healing the pains, and move forward.
Unless we rebuild a public discourse on foundations of mutual respect, until we can speak about the past, and understand what happened, we will not be able to renew the ties that bind us together, that found our identity and allow to project ourselves in the future with confidence.
And that is the surer path to a consolidated democracy that no one would be able to challenge or threaten,” Salome Zourabichvili underscored.