Defence Today

Issue #594

30.12.11 - 12.01.12


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Official Visits

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Visit to the Republic of Armenia

The Minister of Defence of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia paid an official visit to the Republic of Armenia on April 19. In the framework of the official visit he met with his Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanyan and the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. An expanded meeting was also held with the participation of the representatives of the Defence Ministries of Georgia and Armenia. The meeting was attended by the defence ministers, their deputies, the leadership of the Armed Forces and the heads of various departments.0 The main topics of discussion at the meeting were the ongoing defence reforms, participation in international missions and military education. The Georgian Defense Minister offered to share with his Armenian counterpart his ten years of experience participating in the international operations. He also informed his colleague about the plan to establish a regional training center in Georgia, where Georgian military servicemen, military units at the battalion level from Armenia, the countries of the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the central Asian regions will be trained in international operations. According to the statement of the Georgian Minister of Defense, the preparation of units by joint exercises will be more effective in terms of sparing time and financial resources in comparison to other European training centers. Bacho Akhalaia expressed his readiness to provide training to the Armenian military servicemen at Sachkhere Mountain Training School, which has been awarded the status of a NATO “Partnership for Peace” training and educational centre. 0The Armenian Defense Ministry showed the Georgian delegation the Vazgen Sarkisyan Military Institute and briefed them on the educational system of the military personnel and their living conditions.

Visit to the Republic of Turkey

Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalia held a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, National Defense Minister Vecdi GFnLl on May 12. The two colleagues discussed cooperation issues within the defence sphere between Georgia and Turkey. The bilateral military cooperation between Georgia and Turkey covers a wide range of issues, including military education, logistics and issues within the military-technical sphere.

The Georgian Defense Minister expressed his gratitude to his Turkish colleague for the support and practical assistance provided by Turkey for the development of the Georgian Armed Forces. Bacho Akhalaia expressed hope that Georgian-Turkish cooperation will continue in the future as well.

Bacho Akhalaia was accompanied by a delegation from the Georgian Defense Ministry on an official visit to Turkey. On 10-12 May, Turkey hosted the 10th International Defense Industry Fair 2011 (IDEF-11). The event was organized under the auspices and support of the Ministry of National Defense and under the management and responsibility of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation. The 10th International Defense Industry Fair was attended by 621 local and foreign companies and company representatives from 48 countries, some of which are leaders in the defence industry. In addition to companies, 84 delegations visited the fair including 419 foreign delegation members from 70 countries. Among guests were ministers, chiefs of armed forces and high-level military and civilian officials. The event is the best place to exchange views and the best opportunity to establish important business connections. The international exhibition is also an important platform for the development of regional cooperation within the military industry. The participants have an opportunity to get the newest information about technological achievements and programs. They also have the opportunity to view the latest modern military equipment and armaments.

Visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan

Minister of Defense of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia paid an official visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan on May 17. The Georgian minister held meetings with his Azeri counterpart Colonel General Safar Abiyev and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Heydar Oglu Aliyev.

During the meetings, the main topics discussed were the reliable and stable relations within the region and the defence reforms achieved between Georgia and Azerbaijan, including military education. Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia offered his Azeri counterpart the opportunity to train the military servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces at the Sachkhere Mountain Training School.

The Georgian side expressed its readiness to share their experience of participating in the international peacekeeping missions to their Azeri colleagues. In the framework of the visit, the Georgian defense minister laid a wreath at the cemetery of Heydar Aliyev and went sightseeing in Baku.

Visit to the Republic of Poland

Georgian Minister of Defense Bacho Akhalaia paid a two-day official visit to Poland on June 1. The Georgian defense minister held face to face meetings with his Polish counterpart Bogdan Klich. The delegations of the both countries also held meetings with each other. The main topics during the meetings were the international peacekeeping missions, the partnership with NATO and the support given to Georgia on the NATO integration path. Special attention was paid to the common plans in the framework of the European Union.

According to Minister Klich, these plans will be the main working topics for Poland during its future presidency of the European Union. “You know that Georgia enjoys full support of Poland on its NATO integration path. Next year Poland will take up the role of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Georgia will have the full support in this direction as well. During the meeting today, we discussed all the above-mentioned important issues. The main topics of discussion were the NATO-led ISAF operation and strengthening [our] cooperation in the military educational field between Georgia and Poland,” declared the Polish defense minister.

Representatives of the Polish and Georgian defense ministries agreed to deepen relations in the military education field. The Georgian defense minister offered to help his counterpart prepare the personnel of the Polish Armed Forces in Sachkhere Mountain Training School in autumn. This school has been awarded the status of a Partnership for Peace Program Centre. Bogdan Klich offered to send an expert to the National Defence Academy of Georgia next year who to deliver a course on the peacekeeping missions.

The Georgian defense ministry delegation held meetings with members of the National Defense Committee in the Sejm and the head of the National Security Bureau of the Republic of Poland.

Celeste Wallander  in Cadets Military Lyceum

On February 1, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Doctor Celeste Wallander, visited Georgia with the purpose to attend the Georgian Defense Conference (GDC). Doctor Wallander together with the Deputy Defense Minister Nodar Kharshiladze visited Cadets Military Lyceum. The US deputy assistant secretary of defense with her accompanying delegation became acquainted with the Lyceum, its infrastructure, classrooms, dormitory buildings, recreational and dining facilities, as well as its basketball and football stadiums. “We came to Georgia to visit the cadets’ academy as part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense visit to Georgia. We witnessed a very impressive Georgian cadet’s academy, which was very modern. We visited the classrooms and recreational facilities. We were overall very impressed and we think it can be a very important piece of Georgia’s focus on institution building in the Georgian armed forces, which we think will help Georgia with its Euro-Atlantic integration,” said the Pentagon’s Country Director for Georgia and Moldova, Mark Simakovsky.

Lieutenant General Jurgen Bornemann visits Georgia

Lieutenant General Jurgen Bornemann, the Director General of International Military Staff of NATO met with the Chief of the Joint Staff of GAF Major-General Devi Chankotadze on February 1. The key topics of bilateral discussion included cooperation in the field of education, peacekeeping operations and defence reforms in the defence system of Georgia. After the meeting, NATO’s top military official took a tour of the Krtsanisi National Training Center accompanied by Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff, Colonel Arsen Tsukhishvili.

The NATO general also met with the personnel of 33 Battalion of III Infantry Brigade, which is currently being prepared to rotate the 32nd Battalion servicemen (after 6 months of service) in Afghanistan.0 Jurgen Bornemann had the opportunity to see the Simulation Center located at the Krtsanisi Training Base.

“I am visiting Georgia at a very interesting time when the relationship between Georgia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is entering a new stage. I am visiting Georgia in order to take part in the Annual Defence Conference tomorrow where the Georgian authorities represent their first findings of their National Defence review and I am very much looking forward to listening to how Georgia is developing its own armed forces. Of course, I am also here to discuss the status of cooperation between Georgia and NATO. I can tell you and report to you that we had a very successful year in 2010 where a lot of cooperation activities had been implemented and we are looking very much forward to continuing this cooperation with Georgia this year. Of course, that is the reason why we are here in the training centre. One of the focuses of cooperation between NATO and Georgia is the participation of the Georgian Armed Forces in the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan. It is a great pleasure for me to consider that Georgia has sent troops to this NATO-led operation. Georgia is the second largest non-NATO contributor and with this, Georgia is supporting the NATO operation in Afghanistan in a very efficient and excellent manner,”0said the General Director of international Military Staff in an interview with journalists.

Visit of James Appathurai

On an official visit to Georgia, James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia met with the Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia on April 7.0Topics of discussion at the meeting were Georgia’s contribution to the NATO-led ISAF peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, the preparation for the Berlin Ministerial, the ongoing reforms in the Defense Ministry and the various activities carried out within the framework of the NATO- Georgia partnership. James Appathurai held meetings with the Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze and Vice-Premier Giorgi Baramidze. He also visited Ivane Javakhishvili State University where he met students and academic personnel. Within the official visit, NATO’s top official also met with Giga Bokeria, the Head of the National Security Council and members of the Georgian Parliament.

The UK Defence Minister Visits Georgia

The Defense Minister of the United Kingdom for International Security Strategy, Gerald Howarth paid an official visit to Georgia on June 6. The main purpose of his visit to Georgia was to strengthen relations within the defence sphere between the two countries. The United Kingdom’s minister for international security strategy held meeting with Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia. During the meeting, both sides focused on the existing security situation in the region, Georgia’s integration to NATO and the ongoing reforms in the defence sphere.00In the framework of the official visit, Gerald Howarth also met with the First Deputy Defense Minister Nodar Kharshiladze and the leadership of MoD and Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces. He also visited the NATO-Georgia Professional Development Program (PDP) Center and held meetings with the program manager and participants.

After the meeting Gerald Howarth made a statement for the media: “I am delighted to be visiting Tbilisi and to reaffirm my country’s support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The UK continues to provide Georgia with assistance to make the necessary reforms for NATO membership. Therefore, I am pleased to announce today that the UK will provide a new full-time security defense advisor, who will work within Georgia’s Ministry of Defence. Georgia remains an important friend of the United Kingdom. We fight alongside each other in Afghanistan and I want to personally thank the people of Georgia for the sacrifices made in pursuit of global peace and stability”. The basic field of cooperation with Great Britain is educational sphere. Within the frame of British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) Georgian instructors undergo annual training on the international peacekeeping operations issues in Military Academy in Viskovo (Czech Republic). The representatives of the Georgian Defence Ministry are also able to undergo command and staff, English language and international relations training courses in Great Britain.

Visit of Bulgarian Chief of Defence

Chief of Defence of Bulgaria General Simeon Simeonov paid a three-day official visit to Georgia. On June 21 Chief of Joint Staff of Georgian Armed Forces Major-General Devi Chankotadze held a meeting with General Simeonov along with the delegation member of the General Staff of the Republic of Bulgaria. Within the meeting the Georgian and Bulgarian counterparts discussed issues over the ongoing reforms and cooperation perspectives in defence sphere. The sides expressed their willingness and readiness to share experience in military education. Later Chief of Defence of Bulgaria paid tribute to the honor of the heroes fallen in the war for the territorial integrity of Georgia and decorated the memorial of the heroes with wreath at Mukhatgverdi Military cemetery. The delegation from the Republic of Bulgaria visited the squadron in Marneuli region as well.

James Stavridis Visited Georgia

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis paid a two-day official visit to Georgia. The U.S. Admiral visited the Georgian Defence Ministry August 25. The NATO Commander was received by the Minister of Defence of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia. Defence Minister briefed the NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe about the ongoing reforms in defence sphere. At the meeting the sides discussed Georgia’s participation in ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) operation. As Admiral James Stavridis declared after the meeting, he is very proud of the Georgian soldiers who are taking part in ISAF operation. “I am very happy to be here today in Tbilisi, in Georgia to say thank you to the Republic of Georgia for the outstanding participation in Afghanistan. We are very proud of the soldiers from Georgia who have fought alongside the rest of the NATO coalition,” declared Stavridis. “Admiral Stavridis is NATO’s highest ranking military officer and at the same time the Commander of the United States European Command. We discussed the ISAF operation and Georgia’s participation in the mission. You are aware of the fact that Georgia is not only one of the largest but also one of the most important contributors to the operation,” declared Defence Minister Akhalaia after the meeting.

Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus at the Defence Ministry

Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus paid a two-day official visit to Georgia. Secretary of the U.S. Navy was hosted by the Georgian Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia on November 18. At the meeting the Georgian Defence Minister briefed the American official about the ongoing defence reforms in Georgia. U.S. – Georgian bilateral cooperation in defence sphere, Georgia’s NATO integration prospects and Georgia’s participation in ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) were the topics of discussion at the meeting. Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus visited the Krtsanisi National Training Center and attended the military trainings of the Georgian and U.S. military servicemen.

Speech of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Georgian Defence Minister Bachana Akhalaia at the homecoming ceremony of the Georgian servicemen who served in ISAF

Minister, Excellencies, soldiers, ladies and gentlemen, I am very honored to have the opportunity to say a few words at this ceremony to welcome back from Afghanistan the brave soldiers of the 33rd light infantry battalion.

For many years Georgia has been a major contributor to our common effort to ensure that Afghanistan will never again be a safe haven for terrorists and extremists.

Nearly a thousand Georgian troops are serving in Afghanistan today. They are doing a great job. And you, members of the 33rd light infantry battalion have done a great job. Your duties in Helmand province were particularly demanding but you met that challenge successfully and displayed considerable courage. You are not only a credit to your battalion and your brigade, but you are a credit to your entire country.

The Georgian government has announced its intention to make a further engagement for our common effort. Once those troops are in place Georgia will be the largest non NATO contributor. For a country of just over 4.5 million people that is an enormous achievement. And it is the contribution for which all NATO is extremely grateful.

We’re now entering a crucial period in our engagement in Afghanistan.0 We have broken the momentum of the insurgency. The transition of our security responsibilities to the Afghans is on track to be completed by the end of 2014.0And you have all been the key part of the progress we have made. We will continue to stand by the Afghan people throughout transaction and beyond.

We will continue helping them to establish the country as stable, peaceful and increasingly prosperous member of the international community of nations. And I am confident that Georgia will be the part of this continuing commitment.

Afghanistan is a very demanding mission for all our nations and for all our militaries. But it is also a vitally important mission for the security of all our nations and that of all our citizens.

Your service in Afghanistan is also vitally important in another way. It makes the personnel of the Georgian Armed Forces better prepared to work alongside their colleagues from NATO in other missions too, and this is a key part of your countries preparations for NATO membership. So you have not only Afghanistan standing on its own feet, but also help Georgia to move closer to Alliance membership. And this is one more reason for you to be very proud of what you have accomplished.

Let me thank each and everyone of you in the 33rd light infantry battalion once again for your outstanding contribution to the progress of our common endeavor in Afghanistan. And let me close by paying tribute to the Georgian soldiers who have paid the highest price in that endeavor. We must make sure and we will make sure that their sacrifice has not been in vain.

Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia

Dear Mr. Secretary-General and distinguished guests,

I have the honor to welcome you and the members of North-Atlantic Council in Georgia. So I am pinning my hopes to the fact that the aforementioned visit will be another step forward in the deepening of NATO-Georgia relationship.0

I reckon that our soldiers have contributed a lot in the way of the mission’s accomplishment and that they have fulfilled their duties to the highest level. At the same time, they are procuring a lot of experience by which they are strengthening the Georgian Armed Forces.

We have already conducted the fourth rotation under the US Command and right now we are in the middle of pre-deployment exercises. As you should be aware, in the year to come, another battalion will take part in the ISAF mission from Georgia.

In parallel with the operations conducted by NATO, we are forced to be acting in a very heavy and grave security settings, which is very demanding in terms of the fact that we have to proceed with the recovery from the damages inflicted by the August War and on the other hand, we have to continue the transformation of the defence sphere.

And finally, I’d like one more time to emphasize that participation by Georgia in the activities of the alliance is another manifestation that Georgia is ready to become a full- fledged member of the North Atlantic Alliance.


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