Speaking after the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels on June 29, Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria said that Georgian soldiers would keep participating in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, without decrease of their numbers.
“We retain and strengthen our contribution within the framework of NATO’s Resolute Support mission. 870 [Georgian] soldiers serve in the Afghanistan international mission. We will continue this contribution with the same number so that, together with our partners, we provide for international security, because in the globalized world of today providing for international security means making an important step for the security of your own country,” said Izoria.
“Within the NATO framework in particular, making such steps will bring Georgia more security, more compatibility with NATO, more improvement of our military readiness, within the strategy that NATO has defined in accordance with its deterrence policy,” he added.
Izoria’s statement comes less than a month after Tbilisi-based television channel Rustavi 2 reported that the Ministry of Defense of Georgia (MOD) had appealed to NATO headquarters with a request to reduce the number of its Mazar-e-Sharif-based (northern Afghanistan) troops from a company to a platoon.
David Rakviashvili, secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, an agency that is answerable to the President of Georgia, confirmed that there was a “misunderstanding” regarding the Defense Ministry’s request, but added that it was already “clarified.” “There was some communication on this matter, which raised some question marks, but the misunderstanding is already clarified,” Rakviashvili told Rustavi 2 on June 3.
According to Rustavi 2, the Defense Ministry representative, whose name was not specified by the television channel, also confirmed the information on the request, but explained that the change was envisioned for 2019, rather than immediately.
On June 4, the MOD issued a statement, saying that decreasing the number of the Georgian forces serving in NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan was not under consideration, but adding that there were “intense discussions with the American, NATO and other partners, in order to redistribute the troops proportionally, with maximum rationality and efficiency, taking into consideration both internal challenges and international needs, in the future, by 2019.”
The MOD statement also stressed that Georgia would make decisions only “on the basis of close cooperation and communication with strategic partners and the Alliance.”