President farewells Georgian soldiers bound for Africa

Georgian armed forces at the Independence Day celebration in Tbilisi, May 26, 2014. Photo by N. Alavidze, 06 Jun 2014 - 17:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

In front of a large crowd at a special ceremony today, the President of Georgia spoke of humility and sacrifice as he bid farewell to Georgia soldiers who are departing home soil to participate in an international peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili spoke about the Georgian troop’s bravery and the country’s heroic past in his address to the soldiers who would serve in the European Union-organised and French-led peaceful mission for the next six months.

The President said the whole country was proud of its soldiers and each Georgian citizen would be looking forward to their peaceful return from Africa.

"Remember that the whole country, not only your own families, will wait for you to come home,” Margvelashvili said.

"We think about you and we are proud of you. What you have done and are still doing in Afghanistan and what you will do in Africa will strengthen our country and create a better future for the whole world.”

The President met the country’s Defence Minister and the head of the Georgian Armed Forces at the Vaziani military base to farewell the soldiers today.

In February, the EU asked the Georgian Government to contribute to the African mission. The request was confirmed in a letter sent by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze.

The Government discussed the issue and decided Georgia would support and contribute to the mission. About 150 Georgian troops are expected to take part in the operation.

Georgian officials said it would be "a useful experience” for Georgian troops to participate in the EU mission.

This will be the first time Georgia will contribute to an EU Security and Defence Mission and its first operation in Africa.