The messenger logo

Georgia discusses participation in the EU-led mission in Central African Republic

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, February 18
The Georgia is discussing the possible participation of Georgian soldiers in the military operations in Central African Republic. According to the Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania, the European Union has addressed the Georgian side with their proposal due to the Georgian military’s “extensive experience and professionalism.”

“We, the Georgian side are now discussing this proposal,” Alasania said on Monday, promising that Georgian society would be informed about the details of the mission in the near future.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Davit Zalkaliani said at the traditional Monday briefing that Georgia has signed the document about participation in civil and military missions with the European Union at the 2012 Eastern Partnership Summit.

Zalkaliani said that according to this agreement, Georgia will take responsibility for its engagement in EU crisis management operations. The deputy minister explained that the EU is assisting Georgia with its monitoring mission. But Zalkaliani said that Georgia should not only be “the consumer” but also “contributor.”

According to the February 13th Article entitled ‘EU force to create 'safe haven' in the Central African Republic’, Reuters reported that the “small military force the European Union plans to send to the war-torn Central African Republic will focus on swiftly creating a safe haven in part of the capital of Bangui.”

According to the Major-General Philippe Ponties, "the aim is to establish in our area of operations a kind of safe haven (in a limited area of Bangui) where people can feel secure.”

According to Reuters, “EU officials hope the first European soldiers will start arriving in Bangui next month.”

Thus, Georgia may be among the six non-EU countries to assist the mission.

Praising Georgia’s contribution to the NATO ISAF Mission in Afghanistan, US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, thinks that Georgia has enough experience to take part in the EU missions as well.

Moreover, in spring of 2013, Defense Minister Alasania said Georgia is considering accepting the proposal of its European partners and participate in the EUTM Mali, which is a European Union multinational military training mission headquartered in Bamako, Mali.

Nika Rurua, the former Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia during the United National Movement administration positively evaluated Georgia’s possible participation in the EU mission. He said one of the main vectors of Georgia’s foreign course is EU membership, thus if Georgia has the opportunity to assist the EU it should not take a step back.

“On the one hand it is the right political decision, and, on the other hand, a good opportunity for our soldiers to receive a unique experience,” Rurua stated.

However, Civil Council on Defense and Security member Teona Akubardia thinks the government has to consider all the threats of Georgia’s possible engagement in the mission. However, she said it is not necessary to send troops, as Georgia can make other contributions.