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NATO War Partners: Georgia Forges Military Ties With Sweden, Bulgaria And Poland

December 15, 2012
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Source: Trend News Agency

Georgia to discuss military cooperation with Sweden and Bulgaria
N. Kirtzkhalia

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“We are partners of NATO in Afghanistan.”

Head of the Polish presidential administration Jacek Mikhailovsky, and Foreign Ministers Nikolay Mladenov of Bulgaria and Carl Bildt of Sweden are in Georgia on an official visit.

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Tbilisi: Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania discussed military cooperation with the foreign ministers of Sweden and Bulgaria, and the head of the Polish presidential administration.
The sides discussed the issue of future military relations, Alasania said after the meeting.
“First of all, it is the matter of training and education. We are partners of NATO in Afghanistan. In this regard, we have discussed the future strategy for ensuring security in Afghanistan. The ongoing reforms in the Ministry of Defence were also discussed. We acquainted the guests with our basic views on what changes will be made in the doctrine of the defence,” the Minister of Defence said.

He noted that the conversation also touched upon the reserve. Alasania noted that they plan to re-create a system of reserve.

“The Defence Ministry plans not to reform, but to create the reserve again,” the minister said.

The minister earlier said that Georgia has decided to use the experience of Switzerland and Norway in the preparation of reserve for the regular army.

“In the next few years we want to put our army of 37,000 people completely on a professional footing. In this regard the importance of the reserves is increased by ten times,” he said. “We need a mobile, effective reserve.”

Alasania said that the Joint Staff will present the specific plan of army reform on December 18.

Head of the Polish presidential administration Jacek Mikhailovsky, and Foreign Ministers Nikolay Mladenov of Bulgaria and Carl Bildt of Sweden are in Georgia on an official visit. They also will hold meetings with the Georgian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Speaker of Parliament. The visit will end on Thursday.

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Civil Georgia
December 13, 2012

Bulgarian, Swedish, Polish Joint Delegation’s Visit to Georgia

Tbilisi: Swedish and Bulgarian Foreign Ministers, Carl Bildt and Nickolay Mladenov, as well as the head of the Polish president’s chancellery Jacek Michalowski met in Tbilisi with the Georgian leadership on December 12-13.

The delegation, which visited Georgia as part of its South Caucasus trip, met on Wednesday evening President Saakashvili; on Thursday the delegation met UNM leadership, including its secretary general Vano Merabishvili. Meetings were also held with government members, including Defense Minister Irakli Alasania; Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze; State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili; State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili, as well as Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili. Later on December 13 the delegation met with PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, together with his Polish counterpart Radosław Sikorski, visited Georgia about three weeks before the October 1 parliamentary elections and the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, together with the Czech, Latvian, Lithuanian and Romanian counterparts, was in Tbilisi about two weeks before the elections.

The delegation said that the main purpose of the visit was to learn about the plans of the new government and to reiterate strong support to Georgia and its European integration.

During the visit the Swedish Foreign Minister expressed hope that by the time of Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, 2013 Georgia and Moldova would be able to sign an Association Agreement and deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU.

Before meeting with PM Ivanishvili on December 13, the three officials spoke at a panel discussion organized by Georgian Institute for Strategic Studies (GISS), a newly established think-tank co-founded by former state minister for reintegration Eka Tkeshelashvili.

During this discussion Nodar Kharshiladze, Georgia’s former deputy defense minister who is now with a newly established think-tank Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS) said that the new government’s actions were a combination of “lack of competence and ill intent” and asked the Swedish and Bulgarian Foreign Ministers what would be their message to, as he put it, “former Russian oligarch” PM Ivanishvili.

Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt responded: “Messages that we are conveying are the messages what we had been conveying to you.”

“No difference in that particular respect,” Bildt said and added that these messages were “strong support for Georgia, further consolidation of democracy, rule of law, economic reforms, European integration.”

During the same discussions a chairperson of the Tbilisi-based legal advocacy and watchdog group Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Tamar Chugoshvili, asked what should be done in order to investigate crimes possibly committed in the past, but at the same time not to create perception of politically motivated prosecutions and selective justice.

“I find it easier to say what you should not do – don’t do Ukraine,” Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt responded.

He was specifically referring to imprisonment of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in jail for, as Bildt put it, “allegedly violating sort of completely bizarre old Soviet administrative routine thing.”

Bildt said he hoped Georgia would learn from mistakes of Ukraine and would rule out selective application of justice and political revenge, which, he said, would endanger the country’s European perspective.

“There will be an extensive scrutiny. I am quite certain that when we approach, for example, the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, we’ll have reports from Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, we’ll have an assessment by the European Parliament, we might have other assessments from other international bodies and what they have to say, based on detailed studies of what’s going on [in Georgia], will have implications on decisions taken by the European governments,” Bildt said and added that “prejudging” would be wrong now.

“Ukraine should not be Belarus and Georgia should not be Ukraine,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Mladenov said while responding to the same question. “I think there are plenty of guarantees that Georgia has the strength, institutional capacity to defend and consolidate its democratic institutions. I am optimist about it and I hope I won’t be proven wrong.”

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