RIGA - The impact of the war in Georgia on the Baltic states and the EU has drawn comparisons from leading political analysts to the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
Latvian Foreign Policy Institute director Andris Spruds said both events tragically underscored the issue of security in the 21st century.
Spruds was addressing participants at talks held in Riga on March 3 on democratic developments in Georgia and its Trans-Atlantic integration challenges.
The discussion was organized by Baltic Black Sea Alliance (BBSA).
The organization unites noted politicians, media representatives, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations in support of the integration of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and the European Union.
Latvian and foreign political leaders, experts, representatives of NGOs and mass media were among those to join debate on Georgia's transatlantic possibilities.
Georgia's foreign policy is increasingly focused on integration into the European Union and NATO.
Georgian Vice-Prime Minister for European and Trans-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze spoke of the need for Georgia to continue more serious democratic, economic and anti-corruption reforms to promote integration.
Baramidze indicated that Georgia remained open to constructive dialogue with Russia under the condition that Russia respects its sovereignty and the principle of territorial unity.
Latvia has been a staunch supporter of Georgia's efforts to join NATO and the EU. Addressing participants of the discussion, Latvian Foreign Ministry's state secretary Andris Teikmanis said developing relations with Georgia remained one of Latvia's foreign policy priorities.
"We can share our experience because we know how difficult it is to achieve support from other countries, said Teikmanis.
BBSA board chairwoman Sarmite Elerte said the solidarity between Latvia and Georgia stemmed from shared experiences.
She pointed to similarities in the current situation facing Georgia and the experiences of Latvia during the Cold War.
Latvian President Valdis Zatlers also voiced support to Georgia's internal reforms and foreign policy.
Zatlers said the EU will continue supporting Georgia's democratic reform process and will actively participate in a peaceful solution to the military conflict and improving security in the region.
The simmering conflict between Russia and Georgia erupted last August when Georgia sent military forces into the small pro-Russian breakaway province South Ossetia. Russia responded to the attack by pouring heavy military support into the Caucasus region to drive back the Georgians.
In the fallout both sides accused each other of humanitarian atrocities.
Discussion participants said the escalation of the Georgian-Russian military conflict raised key questions about the stability of security systems beyond Georgian borders and presented fresh challenges for the EU.
They also supported calls for more active involvement of the EU in solving Georgia's interior conflicts, adding that disagreements between different ethnic communities within the country had served as the grounds for escalation of the military conflict.
Discussions centered largely on Georgia's western integration and preconditions for Georgia's stability and democratic consolidation.
For the first time both Georgian coalition and opposition parties were invited to join discussions.
Other participants at the event included Georgian political opposition representatives, former Georgian ambassador to the UN Irakli Alasania, Tbilisi Mayor Giorgi Ugulava, University of Latvia social and political studies institute director Nils Muiznieks, U.S. deputy assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew J. Bryza and European Union special representative for South Caucasus Peter Semneby.