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Dear Prime Minister, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to join you today at the Georgia Cybersecurity Forum. Congratulations to the National Security Council for taking this initiative.
The broad involvement of government ministers here today is not only testimony to the importance of the subject at hand, but very much a recognition of the fact that cybersecurity is a truly cross-cutting challenge that requires a range of actors and tools in order to be effective.
It is also a policy area undergoing rapid development globally, underlining the benefits and even need to use occasions like this to have an exchange of views, share lessons-learned and best practises. As well as to inform a wider audience of the current challenges and options in this field.
Alongside my colleagues and fellow speakers from the Unites States, the United Kingdom and Estonia, I am honoured to be representing here one of Georgia’s key international partners in the cyber domain.
Data and information have become key commodities in the modern world. Unfortunately, they are at the same time instruments of political competition and increasingly weaponized.
Data and information systems have become integral parts of modern-day infrastructure, in many ways requiring the same type of protection as other infrastructure facilities.
Prompted by increasingly serious cyber attacks witnessed globally over recent years, including on European soil, the European Union has approached the challenges of cyber security with determination, starting with the Security of Network and Information Systems Directive (the NIS Directive) and the Cybersecurity Act, which in combination with the EU “cyber diplomacy toolbox”, constitute the pillars on which we are building our response to these challenges – both at home and together with partners.
Moreover, as part of Permanent Structured Cooperation within the European Union’s common security and defence policy, four cyber projects have been established, including Rapid Response Teams to help countering cyber attacks.
You may know that on 30 July, less than 2 months ago, the European Union decided – for the first time ever – to impose “cyber sanctions” - sanctions on persons and entities responsible for, or facilitating, cyber attacks on European soil, including the attempted attack against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Netherlands.
Six persons, of Chinese and Russian nationalities, and three entities from China, Russia, and North Korea, were the targets of these sanctions.
As for Georgia, we recognise that the Government is treating hybrid threats as priority challenges for the country and the region. Georgia already has a legal framework in place that covers information and cyber security, and the country’s overall high cyber security capacity is recognised in regional and global cyber security indexes.
Nevertheless, recent cyber attacks against Georgian institutions are vivid reminders of the necessity to continue mobilising relevant public and private institutions for ensuring security in the cyber space.
The European Union and Georgia are partners in this endeavour, as part of our wider and growing security cooperation, and on the basis of a shared determination to fight cyber threats and cyber crime, while upholding the necessary standards of respect for the rule of law and human rights.
Because, let’s not forget, both in the EU and Georgia, the challenge is ultimately to be effective in tackling the threats, while demonstrating full respect for the democratic rules of the game, including the right to privacy and the protection of personal data. Winning the first battle, but failing the second, ultimately defeats the purpose.
On this basis and in this spirit, you can count on the European Union to mobilise further resources and efforts to keep building a solid security partnership with Georgia, including as partners in building an effective cyber security system.
With these words, I would like to conclude my intervention, and wish all participants a successful conference.