Georgia to get U.S. assistance in helicopters

Georgia to get U.S. assistance in helicopters

By Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel started a two-day visit to Tbilisi, discussed armaments for the Georgian army, including combat and transportation helicopters, and promised to do everything to help the Caucasus state join the NATO. Independent experts consider the plans unrealizable after the Wales summit, where Georgia was not given a NATO membership road map.

Hagel arrived in Tbilisi from Wales. The U.S. defense secretary and Georgian Defense Minister Irrakly Alasania passed the guards of honour, officers of the General Staff, military attaches of foreign countries and American instructors training Georgian soldiers for the Afghan mission and entered the Defense Ministry for a closed-door conversation. They discussed intensification of cooperation with Georgia according to a package of initiatives passed by the NATO council yesterday. “The package will improve the defense potential and security of our country,” said Alasania. Hagel stated that the package will use defense opportunities to strengthen ties and deepen compatibility.

A mini-summit of defense ministers of the Alliance and five special NATO partners (Sweden, Finland, Australia, Jordan, Georgia) was held within the framework of the Wales summit. Development of the special package for Georgia was a priority for the organization, admitted the Pentagon chief. He reminded that Georgia was a faithful American ally and they will do their best to make the dream about NATO membership come true.

Hagel thanked his hosts for their contribution to the Afghan operation. Alasania promised that Georgian troops will stay in Afghanistan until the end of 2014 and will stay for a new mission under American patronage.

Hagel noted that he had discussed the situation in Iraq at a bilateral meeting with his Georgian counterpart. Maybe he hinted at a U.S. plan to let Georgia join the new ground operation in Iraq to stop attacks of the Islamic State in Baghdad. In 2006-2008, Georgian troops in Iraq were the third largest foreign force after the U.S. and the UK.

Special attention was paid to Ukraine: “We talked about Russia’s aggression and the enormous threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” said Alasania. Hagel urged Moscow to remove forces from the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

At that moment, one of the journalists present asked the American defense secretary whether the U.S. was planning to fulfil the agreement to sell Georgia combat and transportation helicopters. The Pentagon head admitted that the issue had been discussed. The purchase has become the top news of Georgian media, but Hagel and Alasania have not said anything about it since. Irakly Aladashvili, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenali magazine, told Vestnik Kavkaza that the helicopter deal was made back in 2012: “Presidents Obama and Saakashvili signed an agreement on military and technical cooperation in Washington. Update of the helicopter park was one of the points but nothing has really been done since then.”

Iosif Tsintsadze, an ex-rector of the Tbilisi Diplomatic Academy, expressed doubts about any use of the cooperation package, the so-called “NATO golden card,” for Georgia. “Maybe it is indeed a “golden” or a “diamond card” for Sweden and Finland, but it will hardly protect Georgia from Russia,” assures Tsintsadze.

The U.S. defense secretary promises the Georgian dream will come trueBy Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively for Vestnik KavkazaU.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel started a two-day visit to Tbilisi, discussed armaments for the Georgian army, including combat and transportation helicopters, and promised to do everything to help the Caucasus state join the NATO. Independent experts consider the plans unrealizable after the Wales summit, where Georgia was not given a NATO membership road map.Hagel arrived in Tbilisi from Wales. The U.S. defense secretary and Georgian Defense Minister Irrakly Alasania passed the guards of honour, officers of the General Staff, military attaches of foreign countries and American instructors training Georgian soldiers for the Afghan mission and entered the Defense Ministry for a closed-door conversation. They discussed intensification of cooperation with Georgia according to a package of initiatives passed by the NATO council yesterday. “The package will improve the defense potential and security of our country,” said Alasania. Hagel stated that the package will use defense opportunities to strengthen ties and deepen compatibility.A mini-summit of defense ministers of the Alliance and five special NATO partners (Sweden, Finland, Australia, Jordan, Georgia) was held within the framework of the Wales summit. Development of the special package for Georgia was a priority for the organization, admitted the Pentagon chief. He reminded that Georgia was a faithful American ally and they will do their best to make the dream about NATO membership come true.Hagel thanked his hosts for their contribution to the Afghan operation. Alasania promised that Georgian troops will stay in Afghanistan until the end of 2014 and will stay for a new mission under American patronage.Hagel noted that he had discussed the situation in Iraq at a bilateral meeting with his Georgian counterpart. Maybe he hinted at a U.S. plan to let Georgia join the new ground operation in Iraq to stop attacks of the Islamic State in Baghdad. In 2006-2008, Georgian troops in Iraq were the third largest foreign force after the U.S. and the UK.Special attention was paid to Ukraine: “We talked about Russia’s aggression and the enormous threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” said Alasania. Hagel urged Moscow to remove forces from the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.At that moment, one of the journalists present asked the American defense secretary whether the U.S. was planning to fulfil the agreement to sell Georgia combat and transportation helicopters. The Pentagon head admitted that the issue had been discussed. The purchase has become the top news of Georgian media, but Hagel and Alasania have not said anything about it since. Irakly Aladashvili, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenali magazine, told Vestnik Kavkaza that the helicopter deal was made back in 2012: “Presidents Obama and Saakashvili signed an agreement on military and technical cooperation in Washington. Update of the helicopter park was one of the points but nothing has really been done since then.”Iosif Tsintsadze, an ex-rector of the Tbilisi Diplomatic Academy, expressed doubts about any use of the cooperation package, the so-called “NATO golden card,” for Georgia. “Maybe it is indeed a “golden” or a “diamond card” for Sweden and Finland, but it will hardly protect Georgia from Russia,” assures Tsintsad

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