DEVELOPMENT OF THE MILITARY-DIPLOMATIC CONTACTS OF GEORGIA WITH NATO COUNTRIES MIGHT AGGRAVATE ITS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

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Georgia is developing its military-diplomatic relations with Western countries. It wishes to use these relations in the interests of its military build up. For example, during the meeting of the Georgian National Security Council (NSC) in late May the issues of state security and Armed Forces reforming were discussed proceeding from recommendations of the international council of military advisors to Georgia.

It is known that the international council of military advisors to Georgia was formed on April 18, 1998. It includes three retired NATO generals, Harry Johnson, who was Commander of the Northern Command of NATO Armed Forces, German General Heining von Ondarz, who was the Chief of Staff of the Northern Command of NATO Forces and American general David Ocmaneck, who was in charge of political and strategic planning in the US Department of Defense.

Retired British General Johnson represented a specially prepared report to the Georgian NSC members, which included recommendations, regarding the build up of the Georgian Armed Forces and provision of the country’s security and defense capability. The Georgian sources point out that the program of international military advisors is intended for the next four years and embraces such spheres like security policy, state security structures, strengthening of defense capability and development of democracy in the country.

The NSC members approved recommendations of the international military advisors. President Shevardnadze confirmed the readiness of the country’s authorities to carry out principal transformations in the defense and security sphere. By his order heads of corresponding ministries and agencies are to thoroughly study recommendations of the international military advisors within a month, after which the NSC is to approve the plan of its actions. Special conference, dedicated to discussion of the national security concept of Georgia, is scheduled for September.

Thus, orientation of Georgia at development of its cooperation with NATO countries is becoming evident. Chairperson of the international council Johnson has already announced this. He added that inaction of the council’s recommendations would make Georgia’s joining to NATO much easier.

According to him, it is up to the leadership and people of Georgia to decide whether to join NATO or not, and recommendations of the international advisors are targeted at moving the Georgia’s security system and its Armed Forces as close to the NATO standards as possible.

Johnson expressed his consent with the fact that the NSC had unanimously approved the recommendations, regarding the country’s security concept.

Johnson says that for Georgia it is sufficient to have a small, but combat-ready and mobile army, which it can afford maintaining independently. He confirmed that in its recommendations the council of international military advisors proposes re-subordination of border guards to the Interior Ministry in the Future. The borders in majority of countries are guarded not by defense ministries, but by the agencies with police functions, said Johnson. Incidentally Johnson said this at the moment, when the Georgian Parliamentary Defense and National Security Committee once again started debating removal of two Russian military bases from Georgia. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili announced that such demand reflects the official position of the country’s leadership. According to him, the Georgian party often proposed the Russian leadership to start the corresponding negotiations. Settlement of the Russian-Georgian disputes, especially in the military sphere, is vital, because this is stipulated by the treaty on reduction of conventional arms in Europe, added the minister.

Menagarishvili stressed that the Georgian-Russian agreement, under which the Russian military bases are maintained in Georgia, does not met the new reality, and cannot be ratified in its current form. According to the minister, this circumstance is another argument in favor of the beginning of serious military talks between Tbilisi and Moscow. The fate of certain Russian bases is to be defined by the military specialists of both countries, concluded Menagarishvili.

Meanwhile, against the background of conversations about the fate of Russian military bases in Georgia Tbilisi often mentions deployment of NATO’s military contingents in the country. Leader of the Georgian National Independence Party Irakly Tsereteli recently spoke about this.

During the meeting of Georgian parliament members and politicians with the delegation of the US Department of State he announced that this should be done for provision of regional security in the North Caucasus.

During the meeting Chairperson of the Parliamentary Defense and National Security Committee Revaz Adamiya announced that within the next few years Georgia is to become a NATO member. Assistant to the US Secretary of Defense for Strategic Issues Edward Warner said that the US “is interested in increase of the Georgian military potential.” He added that the Georgian Armed Forces are to approach the NATO standards, and the US would provide real assistance to them in this sphere.

The words of the Americans do not differ from their deeds. Soon the US is to assign $34 million to Georgia for development of priority spheres, including the border guarding, reported Special Advisor to the US Secretary of State for relations with the new independent states Steven Sestanovich.

When Russia withdraw its border guard from Georgia, Americans undertook the care about the Georgian border security. During the visit of Warner to Tbilisi on May 20 granting of up to ten Iroquois military-transport helicopters to Georgia (such helicopters were used during the war in Vietnam) was promised.

According to the source, a group Georgian pilots and technicians is currently intensively studying English to go to the US to study the piloting of the American helicopters. The corresponding agreement was signed on May 28 in Tbilisi by Deputy Georgian Defense Minister Grigol Katamadze and representatives of the US Department of Defense. The pilots are to visit the US for a year. According to Georgian Air Force Commander Valery Nakopiya, his country possesses the technical facilities for operation of Iroquois helicopters. In the Soviet time two helicopter regiments of the Soviet Armed Forces were deployed in Georgia.

Thus, position of Russia in Georgia is being weakened. It is being actively ousted by the US and other NATO countries. Naturally, this cannot go on forever, and Russia will try to defend its interests in the country. Due to this the alleged disclosure of the coup against Shevardnadze and Russia’s involvement into it is very symptomatic.

It is known that on May 22 the Georgian State Security Ministry and Interior Ministry agents detained a criminal group, from which many weapons were confiscated. The criminals were armed with the modern automatic firearms with optical sights, explosives, mines, grenades and grenade-launchers. The numerous posters of former Chef of the national Security Service Igor Giorgadze, printed with high quality, were confiscated from the arrested. According to the special services version, the group was preparing an attempt to murder the President and other leaders of the republic.

A source in the security agencies reported the names of four arrested. These are former Commander of Georgian Ground Forces, present Director of Training Centers of the Defense Ministry Major General Gudzhar Kurashvili; former agent of the State Security Ministry Temur Papuashvili and former members of Alfa special unit of the State Security Ministry Archil Pandzhikidze and A. Kantariya. In the past Pandzhikidze was the personal bodyguard of Otar Patsatsiya, who was the Georgian Premier in the middle of 1990’s. Meanwhile, official representative of the Russian Federal Security service Major General Alexander Zdanovich denied the accusations of the Georgian party about involvement of the Russian special services into the attempt to kill President Eduard Shevardnadze and other leaders of the country. “Such accusations are dictated by the domestic political situation in Georgia and are meant for the use inside of the country,” pointed out Zdanovich. He added that the Russian Federal Security Service had established with Georgian special services “a business cooperation, which is based on the concluded agreement. This agreement also stipulates the struggle against international terrorism.”

This could have been expected. Involvement of the Federal Security Service into the conspiracy was not proven, and we can suppose that it has nothing to do with it. Meanwhile we need to admit that in Georgia itself there are many opponents to the policy of the present President. The country is divided into regions, which are weekly subordinated to the center. For Russia this is very beneficial, and for Tbilisi authorities not. This circumstance is evidently the main reason of disputes between Russia and Georgia. It is unknown when it will be eliminated. However solving of the socioeconomic problems and ending of the crisis in Russia might serve the main precondition for restoration of Moscow’s influence on Georgia and Transcaucasia.

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