Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said that Georgia was ready to send two army personnel, including a de-miner, as its contribution to EU’s military training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali).
“We are not talking about participation of [Georgian] combat units in the mission,” Alasania told lawmakers during a hearing at the parliamentary committee for defense and security on March 21.
He said that after EU approached Georgia with a proposal to participate in its operations under the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), the Georgian government discussed it and accepted, because it would contribute to Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspiration.
“We informed EU about our political decision that we are accepting proposal and also requested them to launch consultations to identify concrete area in which they need Georgia’s contribution,” Alasania said.
He said that Georgia offered to send one officer, who would be involved in command and control planning; he did not elaborate, but one of the components of EUTM Mali is to provide Mali government forces with training and advice in command and control.
Alasania said that Georgia also offered to send one de-miner, adding that Georgia “has a very good experience” in mine clearance operations.
“Let’s see how consultations will develop in this regard. There is political will and now we have to decide technical aspect,” the Georgian Defense Minister said.
EU launched its mission in Mali in February with a purpose to send there more than 200 military personnel to train Mali government forces in the fight against Islamist rebels.
The mission will not be involved in combat operations, according to EU’s decision.
EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said during her visit to Georgia in November, 2012 that she had invited Georgia to begin negotiations with the EU on the framework agreement for Georgia’s participation in EU crisis management operations.
In June, 2012 then foreign minister of Georgia Grigol Vashadze told Civil.ge that Tbilisi was in consultations with the European Union to sign a framework agreement on participation in operations implemented under EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).
On Georgia’s contributions to international operations, Alasania also said while speaking at the parliamentary committee of defense and security on March 21, Georgia would continue contributing to NATO operations in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the NATO combat mission is due to end.
He reiterated that Georgia had offered to provide training to Afghan troops both in Georgia and on the ground in Afghanistan; he said that Georgia's proposal also included training of helicopter pilots for the Afghan forces.
Alasania said that Georgia had also offered NATO to make Georgia one of the routes for so called “reverse transit” ahead of the planed withdrawal of most foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.