Six years ago, the world witnessed a tragic development in the Caucasian region when Russia unlawfully and illegally violated the territorial integrity of sovereign Georgia.
At the time when Georgia, with IDU’s partners – the United National Movement Party in power, underwent a process of democratization, significant reforms to fight corruption, strengthen political pluralism and parliamentary democracy – Russia showed clearly its will to use force against post USSR-countries to implement the interests of the Russian regime, against international laws and principles of geopolitics.
The Kremlin has already demonstrated a complete refusal to accept the sovereignty, reforms and democratization of the former Soviet republics and Communist Bloc countries.
In 1990, as Lithuania became the first country to declare independence from the collapsing USSR, taking course for democracy and freedom, to stop Vilnius’s efforts to re-gain independence – Moscow introduced an ineffectual, total economic boycott.
Thus, the military conflict in Georgian South-Ossetia was more than a test of the country’s sovereignty and a milestone in Georgia’s quest for genuine independence – it was also a wake-up call for the international community to review its political approach towards a new kind of Russia that is returning to its old methods of force, economic manipulation and geopolitical blackmailing.
Moreover, there is now no doubt that the conflict had also sent a signal to the democratic world that relevant defense policies must be set up to be able to meet the threats and challenges of the 21st century when a conflict arrives.
As Margaret Thatcher, British Conservative Prime Minister (1979-1990), once said – ‘It is strong defence that protects peace – and it is weakness that brings war!’.
The weakness of the international community, inadequate response and inability to uncompromisingly stand up for Georgia in 2008 have been transformed into strength for the Kremlin to implement its violent methods and militarism.
After a successfully organised parliamentary election in May 2008, Georgia has become the region’s champion of reforming society based on the principles of economic liberalism, democracy as well as strong human and civil rights. The country’s internationally recognized success in fighting corruption brought the Georgian nation hope for a new, better and prosperous future.
Therefore, the Russian aggression in Northern Georgia is undoubtedly not just an illegal military act against an independent country. It is an act of aggression against Georgia’s strong will for the rule of law, free and fair elections, globalisation and international trade – some of the things that the Russian people have been denied by the Russian government for centuries.
It is therefore one of the main purposes and duties of the youth of the International Young Democrat Union to protect the values of a free society and always strongly stand up and uncompromisingly defend the above-mentioned values. To constantly promote the importance of democracy, education, free market economy and free elections is the least we can do to ensure that the future generations enjoy even greater freedoms across the globe.
It is also time for us to say that Georgia and every other country that fights for the values that once Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan fought for – will never be left alone.
IYDU Vice-Chairman – Belarusian Popular Front (Belarus)