Geocase, in cooperation with the Swiss Think Tank foraus and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, organized the webinar entitled 'Hybrid Warfare on the Borders of Eastern Europe'.
The aim of the online event was to understand hybrid warfare, its shapes and forms, its effects on societies at the border of Eastern Europe and to discuss the efforts of Switzerland and the world community to counter the far-reaching and disruptive effects and issues created by hybrid warfare.
Victor Kipiani, Chairman of Geocase, and Jonathan Djehiche, Co-Head of foraus Berne, addressed the audience with welcome speeches.
H.E. Lasha Darsalia, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia was invited to the event as a keynote speaker. Panelists included: Dr. Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies at Geocase, Prof. Dr. Khatuna Burkadze, Director of American and Euro-Atlantic Studies at Geocase, Dr. Cécile Druey Schwab, Senior Researcher in Contemporary Eastern European History at the University of Bern, and Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli, Head of Global and Emerging Risks Division at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).
Webinar was moderated by Matthias Rast, Co-Head of the International Law Programme, foraus.
In his welcome speech, Victor Kipiani noted: “The topic is extremely sensitive for all the democracies in the world, but it is even double sensitive for those countries which are in the so-called grey zones or the zones with low-intensity conflicts and Georgia is an example of examining the worst consequences of the hybrid warfare. Actually, in our modern times, if you ask me, the current chapter of hybrid warfare started back in 2008 with the Russian invasion of Georgia. Since then, our concern is that western democracies, including the Georgian democracy, have not worked out an efficient set of measures to counter the hybrid warfare, which presents the biggest problem and challenge. We have numerous cases and precedents and this exchange of knowledge and experience which we would be having today, and, hopefully, we would be having more in the future, will help us to provide stakeholders with specific recommendations and advice on how to implement our observations into very practicable solutions, decisions, and very tangible actions.”
H.E. Lasha Darsalia, welcomed the webinar participants and thanked the fouraus and Geocase for organizing the discussion on a very important topic.
“Hybrid warfare has become one of the key security challenges worldwide not only in our part of the world. However, Eastern Europe, the Black Sea and the South Caucasus region have become the direct target of intensified warfare tools of Russia. It concludes a combination of multiple tools, political manipulations, intensive disinformation propaganda machinery to destabilize the region and entire European security. […] Our well-considered choice at the response to these challenges is Georgia’s irreversible move towards peace, prosperity, consolidation of democracy and membership to European Premium.”- stated Mr. Darsalia.
According to Dr. Emil Avdaliani: “Hybrid warfare employed by Russia should be regarded as a part of Moscow's pursuit to reshape the global order; establish a multipolar world order where great power competition and a concert of gear powers would be the order of the day.”
Dr. Avdaliani also stated that while there is a need to move beyond nationalistic narratives when it comes to separatist conflicts in Georgia or elsewhere in the neighborhood, international law is an ultimate tool to resolve the problems - state sovereignty should be maintained.
Dr. Khatuna Burkadze paid special attention to the human rights situation in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. She underlined: “Unfortunately, we face the infringements of fundamental rights including violation of the right to life, torture and ill-treatment, restriction of the freedom of movement, kidnappings, violations of the right to health, restrictions on education in the native language, infringement of the right to property in the Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia every single day. Through the firm support of partners, we should achieve tangible results in terms of removing illegal barbed-wire fences. Such barriers should not exist in the 21st century. Fundamental principles of international law including sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state should be respected and protected in the practice”.
Also, Dr. Khatuna Burkadze talked about international legal aspects of cyber-attacks and cyber warfare. She emphasized: “Current international legal regulations, including the UN Charter, apply to cyber-attacks for the following reasons: 1) cyber-attacks can reach a threshold that threatens a state’s national security, and 2) the impact of cyber-attacks can be as harmful to states as conventional attacks”.
During the Q&A section of the webinar the speakers’ shared their views on the topics the audience raised.
The organizers extended special thanks to H.E. Mr Revaz Lominadze, Ambassador of Georgia to the Swiss Confederation, for his support in setting up the webinar.
Watch the webinar here