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Georgia secures its future via Afghanistan

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 3
Georgian servicemen will participate in the NATO operations in Afghanistan; this is the political decision of the Georgian leadership. This step is being taken to further confirm the country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation. However, this move has to be justified to the Georgian population as there are some uncertainties over the issue: lives may be lost, Georgia may become a target of terrorist attack, the mission has vague prospects of success and vague timeframes and so on.

Some time ago at the Bratislava Ministerial NATO officially thanked Georgia for its participation in NATO operations. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen highlighted the importance of Georgia’s help to NATO-Georgia relations. He confirmed once again that NATO’s door is open for Ukraine and Georgia and they will become members when they satisfy certain criteria. Georgia’s Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia, who attended this meeting, affirmed Georgia’s commitment to trying to join NATO and highlighted that ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan is the common task of all NATO countries and Georgia will do its best to fulfill this task.

This statement is of course a positive one. But the question arises: 1/5th of Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia and there is no safety or stability whatsoever there. Meanwhile Georgia will do its bit to establish peace and stability in Afghanistan. How about its own country? This question is often asked by the Georgian population when participation in NATO operations in Afghanistan is discussed.

Most Georgian analysts support the idea of sending troops to Afghanistan. Giorgi Tavdgiridze thinks that the country’s participation in any type of peacekeeping operation should be welcomed as we need international support. Irakli Sesiashvili also supports the idea seeing it as part of the partnership between the USA and Georgia. So this step will be taken, it has been decided.

This November about a hundred Georgians will be sent to Afghanistan to serve under French command. In spring 2010 a battalion around 420 personnel will be stationed in Afghanistan under US command. Compared to the previous mission of Georgians in Iraq, where they were mostly involved in guarding things, this time Georgian troops could get engaged in combat operations as well. We cross our fingers and hope that there will be no losses, but we cannot exclude that there will be and the Georgian Government should be aware of this.

Analyst Kakha Katsitadze asks why Georgian soldiers should fight for Afghanistan, when the Afghan Government did not vote to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty at the UN session some time ago. But it should be realised that Georgian servicemen are going to Afghanistan not only for the sake of Afghanis. By participating in this operation Georgia highlights its commitment to international law and order, which presumably should be applied and respected by every country which considers itself to be member of the international community. Georgia is fighting for peace and stability in Afghanistan in order to eventually ensure peace and stability in Georgia, as one good turn will endoubtedly deserve another in the fullness of time.