Gov’t: Georgia’s cooperation with NATO poses no regional threat

Georgian Armed Forces. Photo by Ministry of Defence's Facebook Page, 09 Oct 2014 - 13:08, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Government believes the country’s cooperation with NATO would not pose a threat to the security of the region however the "unsolved conflicts” do impact on the stability of the Caucasus region.

In response to a Russian diplomat’s warning on Wednesday who said the establishment of military infrastructure in Georgia in the interests of NATO was a threat to stability in the Caucasus region, Georgia’s State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration rejected this notion and said stability in the region would only happen if Russia’s armed forces withdrew from Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

"The defence infrastructure that has been set up to develop the country’s defence capabilities does not pose a threat to our neighbour country. This is not against Russia. The joint drills and exercises by the partner countries aimed to further improve the security and the stability of the region,” Minister Alex Petriashvili said.

"Withdrawing the Russian military bases from Georgia and Moldova and the armed forces from Ukraine – this would really contribute to the stability of the region.”

Meanwhile Zurab Abashidze, who is Georgia’s special envoy of the Georgian Prime Minister on Russian Issues, believed Russia needed to play its role in supporting regional stability and to do this, it must launch negotiations to solve the conflicts in Georgia.

"We see Russia’s role in this, if Russia wanted to and had the political will, to launch efforts to solve the conflicts step by step,” Abashidze said. He made particular reference to Georgia’s two breakaway regions Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), which were backed by Russia and in 2008 recognised as the independent states.

When asked by Georgian journalists how easy it would be to persuade Russian officials that NATO did not pose a threat to regional stability, Abashidze said it would not be easy.

"This is one of the most difficult problems in relations between the West and Russia,” Abashidze said.

A statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry released on Wednesday after the International Geneva Discussions held in Geneva on October 7 and 8 said establishing a NATO presence in Georgia "would threaten the existing stability in South Caucasus”.

"Delegations from Abkhazia and South Ossetia underlined that decisions made during the recent NATO Summit on Georgia significantly increased the need of coming to binding international agreements about non-use of force between Georgia and their states.”

Meanwhile, the statement also noted that during the discussions parties discussed Russia's draft on a joint statement made by all participants on the non-use of force and security guarantees.

However, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze believed the Georgian side "fully fulfilled” the non-use of force agreement while Russia did not and needed to meet this obligation.

Georgia’s Defence Minister Irakli Alasania confirmed "NATO infrastructure would be set in Georgia” as defined by the package the country received at the Wales Summit, which included defence capacity building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, and enhanced interoperability opportunities.

"This would both develop the hold factor of the aggression that comes from Russia and the defensive capabilities of the country. This only contributes to strengthening the stability of the region,” Alasania said.

At the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales in September, Georgia was granted a "Substantive Package” - a document which aimed to bring Georgia closer to the Alliance.