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Georgia will continue to contribute to Afghanistan missions after 2014

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, February 25
Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania participated in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council held as part of the NATO Defence Ministerial with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations at NATO headquarters on February 22nd.

The participating defense ministers discussed the possible ways of achieving stability in Afghanistan. Afghans will be fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014.

"Our partnership with Afghanistan will continue well beyond the end of transition, and the end of our ISAF mission. We are preparing a new and different NATO-led mission after 2014 to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces. I am pleased that many partners have already offered to join us and are working with us to plan the new mission." NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his opening speech. He also outlined the importance of the handover process to representatives of the Afghan National Security Forces. U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta presented a new vision of the development of the international operation in Afghanistan.

Georgia will continue to contribute to Afganistan missions after 2014 by mostly helping Afgan soldiers with training and education. Future missions will be mostly focused on support and experience sharing. "We have agreed that Afghan soldiers will undergo training and get education in Georgia. We are committed to assisting them with training in Afghanistan as well. It is of utmost importance that Georgia remains in Afghanistan to the end of the mission and help the local government during the elections. Together with American, British and Australian partners, Georgian soldiers will take care in providing a secure environment." Irakli Alasania informed the media after the meeting. He also mentioned that participants of the council meeting welcomed Georgia’s plans to contribute in Afghanistan past the end of the ISAF operation, which will move Georgia closer to NATO membership.

“This will be a new mission and not an extension of ISAF. It requires a new mandate and political decision from NATO. Agreement from the Afghan side is also necessary for the continuance of the operation. Both sides should reach agreement during the next two years. The mission won’t have a combat role but rather will be a support and sharing experience. If necessary it will also include the combat component for strategic support of the Afghan National Security Forces – air, intelligence, etc.” Alasania explained.

The official web-page of the Defence Ministry of Georgia reports that "NATO aspirant countries held negotiations on multi-lateral cooperation. The agreement was reached during bilateral meetings held with defense ministers of different countries. The meeting was arranged as part of the Ministerial and the aspirant countries agreed that focus will be placed on training of Afghan forces and sharing experience with them. Aspirant countries were given the opportunity to cooperate with NATO partners in Afghanistan."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen once again outlined that becoming a NATO member totally depends on aspirant countries. While answering a question from the Ukrainian media at the ministerial closing press conference, Rasmussen said: "Yes, I will reiterate what we have said previously about the decision we took in Bucharest in 2008 that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO. This decision still stands."