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Georgia may join EU-led mission in Africa

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 20
Information on Georgia’s possible participation in yet another military operation has been released -this time in the Central African Republic by invitation of the European Union.

Presumably, the Georgian regiment will consist of one hundred people and will join the international forces to keep peace in the Central African Republic. But prior to taking this step, the issue should be transparently discussed in the government and among the public.

The most important is that the Georgian leadership should convince the country’s population about the necessity of Georgia’s involvement in this mission.

The information became available when on February 16, 2014 Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania announced that the EU had asked the Georgian government to participate in the mission.

Alasania said that the issue is still under discussion. However, later the First Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani mentioned that it is very important for the country to take this step, repeating the traditional argument that Georgia should not only be a consumer of security, but a contributor as well.

According to international sources, Georgia might take part in the mission together with other non-EU member states, including Canada, US, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.

This information became known after the conference in Brussels that was held on February 13 where the Georgian representative expressed his country’s readiness to join the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

Up until recently, Georgia had 1,560 military personnel in Afghanistan and represented the fifth largest contributor to the NATO-led ISAF mission. Georgia has lost 29 servicemen in Afghanistan.

The EU foreign ministers decided that the organization should provide peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic to secure the situation in the capital Bangui for creating the conditions to provide the country with humanitarian assistance.

Currently, the situation in Bangui is under the control of 1,600 French soldiers and a couple thousand peacekeepers from neighboring African countries. Presumably, the EU military contingent will consist of 500 servicemen.

In November 2013, Georgia and the EU signed an agreement about Georgia’s participation in the crisis-management missions. If Georgian troops are sent to the Central African Republic, this will be Georgia’s debut in military cooperation with the EU.

Last year Georgia also received an invitation to take part in the military operation in Mali, Africa. However, after it was discussed, Georgian military advisors later cancelled the mission.

Some military experts believe that Georgia may send ground forces to the Central African Republic, as well as military doctors, field-engineers and communication specialists.

Now however, the public wants some answers: what will Georgia gain from this step? The answer is that the soldiers will receive more experience, and certain financial interests. The gesture will also indirectly oblige the international community to assist Georgia if it needs their support.

However, there are always risks to such pay-offs, and the public deserves a chance to hear the government layout the logistics of getting involved in such adventures.