Mishiko dying to get to NATO via Afghanistan04.03.2011 | 19:53
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili became a SWAT fighter for half a day. One of these days, he visited Special Department at the Ministry of Defense and even took part in the training. In the course of the visit, Georgian leader repeated that despite the growing losses, Sakartvelo military contingent will continue taking part in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan. According to Saakashvili, it might help establish democracy and peace in the Islamic republic. GeorgiaTimes correspondent talked to well-known Georgian and Russian experts Gia Melitauri and Anatoly Tsyganok about what the Georgian soldiers die for.
It is not very often that you can see Mikheil Saakashvili in a military uniform in the company of his five-year-old Nikoloz also dressed in camouflage. The journalists got such a chance yesterday. Georgian leader tried to demonstrate keeping fit - he took part in an accelerated march, had a training session in a gym and tried a ration together with the officers.
"We need discipline and a strong spirit that is formed by permanent training", - leader of Sakartvelo explained to SWAT fighters. No wonder - Georgian soldiers indeed have got problems with the spirit. It's enough to remember the militants equipped with modern weapon hurriedly retreating to the back of the country. Besides, one can still recollect the famous video record showing President Saakashvili flee on hearing the sound of an approaching plane. He even did not complete his conversation with the press. No matter how hard the Georgian leader tried to make a brave man of himself, this fact will hardly be erased from his biography.
But let us not be driven away from the main point. While staying at the SWAT military base, Saakashvili paid special attention to the situation with the Georgian servicemen undergoing military service in Afghanistan in the context of a peacekeeping operation. "We have recently lost our heroes in Afghanistan but we must participate in the operation, for it increases our power and helps strengthen the army, which is necessary to fight the terror threatening the whole world", - he underlined.
Within the time of participation in a peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, Georgia lost six servicemen; several more people received wounds, Rosbalt reports. The last victim of the "democratic mission" was Corporal Giorgy Avaliani who died at the end of February. Still, the president of the country continues stubbornly insisting on the Georgian soldiers' fight with the world evil in the Islamic republic. "For me, each victim is a personal tragedy but I must not think about personal tragedies; I must judge from the state interests", - Saakashvili stated recently.
By the way, despite losses, the Georgian military contingent in Afghanistan numbering 925 people is constantly replenished. For instance, 11 artillerists went to the Islamic republic in the mid February. Representatives of the opposition and some of the local political experts are perplexed at such decisions taken by the ruling regime. For example, International Secretary of Labour Party Nestan Kirtadze believes that the expansion of the group is absolutely groundless. "Increasing military forces outside the country is an irresponsible and absolutely unjustified action. It serves the only political purpose - the authorities want to keep power at the expense of the Georgian soldiers and officers' lives", - she said. In her opinion, the victims are the entire responsibility of the president. "That's not our war. Georgians have got nothing to do with it", - the oppositionist added.
On his part, expert Irakly Sesiashvili also believes that the increased number of the Georgian military contingent in Afghanistan plays not in the hands of the Georgians but in those of President Mikheil Saakashvili's personally. "It all means that the Georgian party allegedly makes sacrifices but in fact, it is only the authorities and the president who benefit from it, - News.am is citing him. - I think that the pointless death of our soldiers is the price to pay for avoiding international criticism".
GeorgiaTimes correspondent got in touch with leader of the Military Forecast Center at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis Anatoliy Tsiganok and his Georgian colleague Gia Melitauri and asked them to give their assessment of President Saakashvili's initiatives.
Melitauri: Participation of the Georgian military contingent is very important for Georgia both from the point of view of its own armed forces and the political one. It gives additional material to train the troops in real conditions and the necessary experience, including operation planning jointly with the American and French colleagues. Moreover, any troops need to keep fit. When army men live a peaceful life they relax. It is also important that Georgia is eager to get to NATO and take part in other projects jointly with the western countries. The republic must not only get something when we are talking about material and technical support of both the state and the army but to give something back. In this case, it is taking part in Afghan operations, just like in Kosovo and Iraq. It implies certain risk; our soldiers died. But anyway, losses are inevitable when about one hundred servicemen take part in an operation.
Tsyganok: Saakashvili's main purpose is to enter in NATO by all means, even though part of member-states made it clear that Georgia is presently not in Europe but in Asia. Officers and soldiers serve in Afghanistan so that Mr. Saakashvili would not part with his North-Atlantic hopes.