Tbilisi denies military cooperation between Israel and the de facto Abkhazia
By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, April 19
Israel and the de facto Abkhazian government will never have any kind of military cooperation, the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze said Monday, commenting on last week’s visit of Israeli holding Global CST to Georgia’s breakaway region. The Georgian Foreign Ministry “immediately reacted upon” this issue and asked the Israeli Ambassador to Georgia for “detailed information”, according to Kalandadze. “The Ambassador confirms, that there will be no military cooperation between Israel and the de facto Abkhazian government.
Military cooperation is not only part of a private activity. It is a licensed activity, which needs a relevant permission from the Israeli Defence Ministry. And this kind of permission will not be given out and there will be no military cooperation,” the Deputy Minister stated.
Israeli holding Global CST expressed its readiness to supply Abkhazia with non-assault military techniques, according to internet portal Izrus.co.il. According to the site, the de facto Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh met the managers of the Israeli holding in Moscow, following his unofficial visit to Turkey. Izrus.co.il wrote that the meeting between the de facto President and the representatives of Global CST was “officially agreed with Jerusalem.”
According to Israeli media, the meeting was attended by former head of the Operative management of Israeli Defence Forces, Israel Ziv and former military secretary of Israeli Prime Minister, Meir Klifi.
“The Israeli side realizes the importance of strategic dialogue with Russia and Abkhazia and supports developing these relations,” Israel Ziv was quoted as saying. Citing an anonymous source, Izrus.co.il reported that Ziv expressed readiness to supply Georgia’s breakaway region with non-assault military techniques.
After the meeting with Baghapsh, the Israeli delegation, 7 representatives of Global CST left for Georgia’s breakaway region to meet the de facto authorities there. Israel Ziv headed the delegation, Apsnypress news agency reported. On April 14 the representatives of Global CST met the de facto Prime Minister of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba and the de facto Defence Minister Merab Kishmaria.
Israeli Ambassador to Georgia, Itzhak Gerberg immediately commented on Izrus.co.il’s reports, saying that Israel’s official position on Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region are “clear.” “We do not recognize them as independent states and we are not going to sell them any kind of arms. It is possible that some private businessmen visited Abkhazia, but they cannot speak under the name of the [Israeli] Government. I reiterate, we are not going to sell arms to them,” information agency Interpressnews quoted Ambassador Gerberg as saying.
Information about an alleged meeting between the de facto Abkhazian President and the Israeli holding representatives was preceded by Israeli defense Electronics Company Elbit Systems announcement that it has sued the Georgian Government at the UK High Court of Justice for an amount of about USD 100 million. According to the press release of the Company, released earlier last week, the lawsuit was filed as a result of the Georgian government’s failure to pay amounts due to the Company in connection with deliverable items under several contracts signed in 2007. The Israeli company claims that the Georgian side has not paid for unmanned drones Hermes 450. According to Israeli media, the company has provided the Georgians side with about 40 unmanned aircraft systems. Israel stopped selling arms to Georgia following the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008, Israeli media reports.
However, on Monday Tbilisi denied having any unpaid debts to the Israeli company. Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze said the Georgian Defence Ministry “has no debts”, adding that the Defence Ministry has not violated any contract points with Elbit Systems. “The Georgian side not only has no debts, but there are many military companies around the world which owe Georgia,” she noted.