Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili said on March 31 that stipulations outlined in two military agreements between Tbilisi and Moscow were made possible as a result of compromises by Georgia.
Georgia and Russia signed agreements on the timeframe and modalities of functioning, rules and withdrawal of the Russian military bases from Georgia and on the transit of Russian military personnel and cargo via Georgia in Sochi on March 31. The agreement on the withdrawal of the Russian is mainly based on a joint declaration signed between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ex-Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili in May, 2005 and envisages the withdrawal of Russian bases in a course of 2008.
“We have compromised while giving our consent to Russia to withdraw its military bases within three years, because in actuallity such a long term is not necessary, but we have accepted the arguments submitted by the Russian side,” the Georgian Defense Minister said at a news conference on March 31.
Okruashvili said that during these three years the Russian side will preserve its Headquarters of Russian Military Forces in Tbilisi “in order to manage and organize the withdrawal process.”
Okruashvili also said that although Russia has already formally transferred the communications relay facility in Kojori and firing ground in Gonio, Tbilisi agreed to use these facilities jointly with Russia until a complete withdrawal of the Russian bases from Georgia. A joint declaration signed by the Foreign Ministers last May did not envisage the joint use of these facilities.
Okruashvili also said that the Georgian side definitely compromised by giving its consent on an agreement on the transit of Russian military personnel and cargo that will enable Russia to gain access to its military base in Gyumri, Armenia via Georgia.
“The transit of Russian military bases to Armenia via Azerbaijan or Turkey is impossible by well known reasons and, naturally, the only way lies through Georgia... However, this does not mean that we can appear in the situation, when transit of any cargo via Georgia will pose a threat to the region,” the Minister added.