The FINANCIAL — Fabian Uziell-Hamilton MP, Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament Fabian Hamilton (born 12 April 1955 to a British Jewish family) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds North East since 1997. He was elected as a councillor to the City of Leeds Council in 1987, stepping down eleven years later in 1998.
In Parliament he served as a member of the Administration Select Committee 1997–2001, and has been a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee since the 2001 general election. He was also the chairman of the all-party groups on business services, prison health, and civil contingency, and formerly served as the vice-chairman of the all-party Iran group.
He also formerly chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. Hamilton was appointed a Shadow Foreign Minister, outside the Shadow Cabinet in January 2016. On 29 June 2016, he was appointed Shadow Minister of State for Europe succeeded by Khalid Mahmood. Hamilton was appointed Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament in November 2016. The role covers North Africa, the Middle East, North Korea and Labour Party policy on nuclear weapons.
“You have a lot of poverty here. Georgia is one of the best places in the world to make business now. You must internationalize Georgia; globalize”, suggests Fabian Hamilton MP, Shadow Minister for Peace & Disarmament. The FINANCIAL talked to fabian last week.
Q. What was the main purpose of your visit to Tbilisi?
A. I’m the UK Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament. My role is to try and work for peace, and to look at conflict zones throughout the world. When I had the opportunity to come to Tbilisi, I said I wanted to look at the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, because there have been hot conflicts and violence, examples of Russian aggression, and a lot of Georgians were forced to leave. There are also some similarities to Cyprus, which I am very involved with; Korea might be another parallel, where families are divided by borders. I wanted to see for myself, to talk to people who have been victims of this aggression against Georgia, and to see what the British Government may be able do to help resolve the conflict.
Q. How do you envisage resolving the problem?
A. I think it’s very difficult. The Russian Government is not collaborative in any way with the rest of the world. What’s quite important is to try and resolve things together without people feeling stressed, and I think that is possible. These past couple of days I’ve joined talks about moves to bring Abkhazians together with Georgians, to overcome the fear that is caused to Abkhazians through their very isolation and trying to reduce this isolation. Once you overcome the fear, then hope can re-appear. But there is no hope when people think that their enemies are on the other side of the border.
We were in a village close to South Ossetia, next to the border and we saw a volunteer project run by professionals who looked after displaced people from South Ossetia, and who have been supported by the Government, supported by charitable organisations, and by small companies giving donations. That’s the kind of thing that’s going to make a big difference. Maybe, if people trust the charitable organisations, then simply getting more contributions from the public is one thing which could help.
Q. How would you evaluate the position of the Georgian Government through these conflicts?
A. I think the Georgian Government has the right approach. We need to stand up for citizens, and for the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Government should listen, be calm, and say “right, how is it possible, step by step, to dismantle this conflict, while ensuring that people don’t get hurt and fear is diminished and eventually eliminated, so that the common humanity we have is something that we can communicate to one another?” It’s never going to be easy but the question is what are the alternatives? Georgia doesn’t want violence and nor does anyone else. I think that’s why the Georgian Government is taking the right line.
Q. Would you advise that Georgia continue the integration process with the EU?
A. I’m among the majority of parliamentarians who think it’s a bad idea for the UK to leave the EU. So yes, I would say that EU integration is good, I’d love to see Georgia as the 29th member of the European Union, whether we, the UK, leaves or not. I think the EU has done more good for peace and progress, for freedom, for justice, for equality and the rule of law, than any other organisation in human history.
Q. How do you see Georgia’s economic perspectives?
A. My experience of economic progress is that you have to have a balance between public services which are paid for by taxation, and the growth of innovation, enterprise and manufacturing. Innovation is key. What’s behind the innovation? It’s education. The key feature of a strong economy is based on a high level of education: technical, academic, no matter what kind it is, from school age to university. The best example is South Korea: 50 years ago it was one of the poorest nations in the world, but now it’s among the 10 richest. How did they do it? Through university and higher education.
I think Georgians need to keep concentrating on expanding the economy. You have a lot of poverty here but Georgia is now one of the best places in the world to do business. But I think you needs to internationalise Georgia; globalise; be ambitious and properly use all the potential for manufacturing or agriculture. Then people will have a higher income and be better able to look after their neighbours.
Q. How do you see the perspectives of the future of Georgian-British relations?
A. I think there are three aspects: one is that we should increase trade between Georgia and Britain, tourism is also really important; it allows people to people to get to know one another. Georgia and Britain have a long history of friendly relations, so we can be one of Georgia’s strongest allies. I also hope that there can be more British investment in the Georgian economy and far more two-way trade.
Georgia is rich nation, with well-known agriculture, an amazing history, and big potential for tourism. So the future looks very good, through diplomatic relations and people-to-people exchanges. Maybe in 10 years time Georgia will be the primary destination choice for many British tourists.
Q. Finally, what do you consider to be the main challenge to contemporary peace?
A. I think that with each and every human has the potential for violence and anger. So I think we have first of all to look at ourselves, and ask ourselves what makes us angry and why do we get angry, why does that anger bring violence. Very often anger is related to fear and the fear is the reason for anger or violence. That’s the first answer.
I think another answer is self-reliance which increases self-confidence and self-confidence is critically important to human peace. I also think that inequality is the third answer. If you look at many of the conflicts around the world, a lot of them are based on inequality. For example, in the occupied Palestinian territories, the average income is often under USD 2,000 a year; in the main Israel itself, average income is now over USD 20,000 a year. For many countries in Africa, because of the appalling poverty there, accessible clean water can be the biggest luxury they could ever imagine. But there is enough wealth and resources in the world and to support 7 billion people, so I would say that inequality and reducing fear – fear of difference – are a few of the things we can address to stop future and present conflicts.
Eva Bolkvadze – The FINANCIAL