NATO Military Committee visit to Georgia postponed
By Ana Robakidze
Monday, November 12
The NATO Military Committee visit to Georgia, scheduled for November 9th, has been postponed for an unknown period of time. This information was provided to the Georgian side by Gega Mgaloblishvili, the permanent representative to the alliance.
While committee representatives have not made official statements or explanations on why the meeting has been postponed, UNM members say it is an alarming fact and might be tied to the detention of the chief of staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Giorgi Kalandadze. No further information has been provided on NATO’s official web-page either.
The Parliamentary minority is concerned that the latest actions carried out by the chief prosecutor and the Minister of Justice. They feel that detaining Kalandadze has had a negative impact on NATO-Georgian relations and on the country's integration with the alliance.
Giorgi Baramidze, the former minister of European integration, expressed his concern at a press conference held on November 9th. “On behalf of the minority, I want to express our protest against the detentions, which has already inflicted serious damage to the country’s democracy, defensibility and the process of integration into NATO. Yesterday we learned that the visit of the NATO military committee, which was prepared long ago, was disrupted and postponed for yet an unknown period of time,” he said.
According to the new government, there is no need to be concerned about Georgia’s future relations with NATO, as the meeting has not been cancelled, it has been postponed only. Alexi Petriashvili, the State Minister for Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic Structures, explained that according to the protocol, the host institution of the committee should have been the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, since the current chief is convicted in a crime and his successor has not been appointed yet, no meeting can be held with the NATO Military Committee. Petriashvili is confident that Kalandadze's detention is one isolated case and cannot have a negative impact on NATO-Georgian relations.
Radio Liberty reports that one NATO representative who preferred to keep his identity anonymous informed radio reporter that latest actions ongoing in Georgia have somehow affected the planned meeting. The aim of the committee's visit was to exchange views with senior Georgian Military leaders. The recent events ongoing in Georgia would make it difficult for both sides to fully benefit from the visit. The NATO representative hopes that the charges against the officials recently detained, are investigated with full respect for due process and within the country’s constitutional framework. The NATO Military Committee will consider options for rescheduling the visit.
It has also been announced that official meeting will be held between PM Bidzina Ivanishvili and NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in Brussels, on November 14th. Ivanishvili will be accompanied by the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs and also by the State Minister for Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic Structures. The issue of the postponed Military Committee visit is expected to be solved at this meeting.
Meanwhile, a Georgian delegation will be presented on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Sessions in Prague, where President Saakashvili will deliver his speech on November 12th.