President Saakashvili said Georgia’s participation in the Afghan operation was directly linked to Georgia’s security.
“While our allies – in this case the United States and Europe – are switched on other issues [referring to Afghanistan and Iraq], our enemy is getting active. Sooner the Afghan situation is resolved and sooner the war is over in Iraq, Georgia will be more protected,” he said.
Saakashvili was speaking while addressing soldiers from the artillery brigade, which received a new base in Vaziani, outside Tbilisi; before the brigade was based in the town of Gori.
Saakashvili underlined that Georgia contributed one infantry company and planned to send additional battalion next year to Afghanistan without any caveats attached.
“Unlike some of the European states, our contingent [in Afghanistan] has no restrictions in respect of engagement in combat operations,” Saakashvili said.
“This is a unique chance for our soldiers to receive a real combat baptism. We do not need the army only for showing it on military parades.”
Speaking at a news conference after the NATO-Russia Council meeting on the foreign ministerial level in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said that the alliance was grateful for Georgia’s “extraordinary” contribution to the NATO operations in Afghanistan.
“I’m not sure, but I think it is accurate to say that Georgia may be the largest per capita contributor to the NATO ISAF mission,” she said. “We very much stand with the people of Georgia, and we’re very grateful for Georgia’s contributions to this important mission in Afghanistan.”