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To be or not to be in the ISAF mission after 2014

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, October 19
Incoming Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, commented on Georgia's participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan on October 18th and stated that a withdrawal of Georgian soldiers from the conflict area is not planned before 2014.

Alasania emphasized that participation in the mission is the country’s contribution towards the international community and Georgia should fulfill this obligation until 2014.

“It is very difficult to talk about continuation of the mission and continuation of the policy when we lost another brave soldier a few days ago. But everyone should understand that this is a responsibility of the country. It is a burden and obligation which Georgia has undertaken for ensuring international security.” Alasania said.

He explained that ISAF plans a withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and Georgia will also take part in this withdrawal.

“From 2014 we will start the process of returning our soldiers home.” Alasania stated.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stressed that NATO will assist Afghanistan in trainings and instructions from 2014 onwards.

Hope concerning Georgia’s participation in NATO's mission in Afghanistan after 2014 was voiced by NATO Secretary-General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai during his visit to Georgia on October 18th.

Appathurai stated Georgia is the largest contributor among non-NATO member countries and its contribution to the ISAF mission is very important. Appathurai repeated that after the mission is over in 2014, NATO will focus on training Afghan forces, and Georgia might be involved in this process. But he said that this decision should be made by the Georgian government.

‘We do not want to plan anything without Georgia’s involvement. Georgia might be willing to make its contribution to the Afghanistan mission after 2014, and this contribution will be very important", said Appathurai.

Acting Secretary of Security Council Giga Bokeria stated that Georgia should continue active collaboration with NATO and should continue its path towards integration with the international community. Bokeria also believes the foreign policy charted by the outgoing government will be continued by the incoming one.

Editor-in-Chief of military analysis magazine Arsenali, Irakli Aladashvili told The Messenger that Georgia should continue participation in the mission but with a reduced number of soldiers.

“I have always stated that such a large contingent of soldiers and in such dangerous province as Helmand is not necessary. We started with 170 soldiers and the number has increased to more than 1000 … 18 Georgian soldiers have already been killed and such facts have created a negative public attitude towards the mission…” Aladashvili stated.

According to Aladashvili the new government should decide how many soldiers and in which format will Georgia participate in ISAF.