PM Garibashvili reacts to Foreign Policy article

Georgia's involvement in the coalition will be symbolic, PM Garibashvili said., 25 Sep 2014 - 23:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili says there are no plans for Georgia to host a training centre for Islamic State fighters and Georgia's participation in the anti-terrorist coalition would only be in a "humanitarian” way.

"Georgia's involvement in the coalition will be symbolic. We agreed at a National Security Council meeting that Georgia will have only a humanitarian contribution to this. No military aid has been considered and no single soldier will be sent,” Garibashvili confirmed.

His comments come in response to an article claiming there was a possibility a training centre would be established in Georgia. An anonymous United States (US) administration official was quoted by US magazine of global politics, economics and ideas – Foreign Policy (FP) that Georgia had offered to host a training facility for Syrian rebels as a part of the US-led war against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

The article, published online on September 23, said Georgia’s offer was being touted as a potential boost for the Obama administration.

Georgia’s Ambassador to the US Archil Gegeshidze accused FP journalist John Hudson of "misinterpretation” and "inaccuracy” in his quotes and said the magazine reported an idea he did not explicitly express.

"If the issue come to the agenda, as well as other issues may, the Georgian Government will treat this with full responsibility, consider its pros and cons and only after this, will make a decision at the highest political level. But this response does not mean a confirmation in any way,” Gegeshidze commented to journalists.

Meanwhile FP denied it printed an "inaccuracy” in a Gegeshidze’s comments about Tbilisi’s offer to host a training centre for anti-Islamic State fighters.

The managing editor for news for Foreign Policy, Yochi Dreazen, edited the article and said that he and the author of the article stood behind what was printed. "We don’t plan to make any corrections,” Dreazen said.

Gegeshidze was quoted in the article as saying the training center idea had been offered to the US but the offer was "still under consideration.” He was also cited as saying the training centre could host anti-IS fighters from multiple countries, including Syria.

After the story broke Georgia’s Council for State Security and Crisis Management confidently denied Georgia had no plans to host a training centre that would cater for foreign Islamic State fighters, including Syrian rebels.

The Council issued a statement that said with "full responsibility” the information spread through the media "as if it is planned to train Syrian rebels within the current international anti-terrorist operation against Islamic state, is not true.”

The Council said there were no plans to open a training centre in Georgia or send any military contingent within the coalition.