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Georgian transit for NATO2009-02-25 10:18
February 20: the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting was held in Krakow with official Tbilisi expressing its wish to contribute to the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan.
"Georgia offers NATO the use of its territory as an alternative route for continuation of the peacemaking operation in Afghanistan, - Izvestia quote Georgia's Defense Minister David Sikharulidze. The Minister also noted that it was not connected with deployment of NATO military bases in Georgia but just provision of air space for the alliance jets to fly to Afghanistan.
Sikharulidze also reported that the submission of a Georgian military unit to Afghanistan had been discussed in Krakow. According to him at this stage this is a squadron of Georgian servicemen.
Sikharulidze's report was taken ambiguously in Georgia. For instance Koba Liklikadze, an expert, believes that Krakow suggestion about Georgia becoming an alternative transit route can be considered merely as a diplomatic gesture.
"As early as in 2002 Georgia adopted a legislative act stipulating that Georgia allows NATO to use air, land and sea space, - the expert stated. - Once the alliance asked Russia for provision of air space and it gave its consent. If NATO needs Georgia to keep with the peacemaking operation in Afghanistan, I see no contradictions in that".
What contradiction does Liklikadze mean? Apparently the notorious story of American military bases possible deployment in the territory of Georgia. It will be remembered that in early February the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza had to remind:
"We don't plan to deploy such bases in Georgia and I have never said that. However I repeat once again that we are going to cooperate with Georgia in the fields of security, energy, economy and development of democratic reforms".
Nevertheless some politologists consider offering the Georgian sky to NATO from another point of view. According to Irakli Sesiashvili, a security expert, this will guarantee additional security to the republic. Georgian media give the following comment of the expert:
"Georgia will have American military service staff in its territory that will not have the status of a base but it is feasible as an attack on Georgia will be considered as a threat to the US military base".
There is another opinion.
It reflects not only skepticism about possible deployment of American bases in the territory of Georgia but also disbelief in the future of the USA-Georgia relations on the whole.