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Georgia-USA: military partnership issues2008-12-17 11:28
Oppositional Vice Speaker of Parliament Levan Vepkhadze expressed a wish for an American military base to be set up in the country.
"We call on the Georgian authorities to consider this issue. We also appeal to the US authorities to take a relevant decision within the coming weeks", - Vepkhadze told the journalists following his meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza.
The main specialist for Georgia in the Department of State came to Tbilisi on December 16 again intending to meet the Georgian parliamentary opposition and "get familiar with the situation in the areas of Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts and the progress of the reforms being carried out in Georgia".
The first part of the meeting was held behind closed doors in parliament. After it Levan Vepkhadze gave explanations to the press reporting that he had suggested establishing a bilateral agreement on military partnership with the USA. The USA have similar agreements with the Philippines, the Baltic States and some other countries.
"It can become our safety guarantee and that is why we have asked Bryza about it, - Vice Speaker stated. - Direct political and military cooperation stands for American military aid to Georgia, deployment of bases in its territory, assistance in military equipment update. Now it is extremely important as Georgia has not obtained a NATO MAP, and this might mean new hazards on the part of Russia".
"Bryza avoided answering directly. Probably because the USA have already considered this issue. At the conference in Washington (a week before the high-ranking American official's visit to Tbilisi) Mark Simakovsky, Pentagon adviser on relations with Georgia and Moldavia, delivered his speech. He stated that the USA were considering Georgia its strategic partner and would press for complete pull-out of the Russian troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but they were not planning construction of bases there. That is why Bryza confined himself to general statements on the parliament's emerging role and reinforcement of democracy. He also mentioned the recent events in Perevi village.
"The Russian troops must leave Perevi", - he told the journalists. - There is a relevant recision of the EU monitoring mission which we fully support. There is no answer yet to the question why the Russian troops have come back to Perevi. The Russians must leave the illegally occupied territories and retreat to positions taken before August 7 according to the Sarkozy-Medvedev plan".