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Opposition Leader Slams Plans to Send Troops to Afghanistan
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Mar.'07 / 13:52

Radical opposition Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili slammed President Saakashvili for his willingness to contribute to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
 
President Saakashvili said after talks with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels on February 27 that Tbilisi is ready to send “a limited-number” of Georgian units to Afghanistan.

Later on the same day Saakashvili said in an interview with CNN that “we are talking at this point about several hundred troops.”
 
“President Saakashvili expressed a willingness to send our soldiers to Afghanistan in order to ensure that in exchange the western partners will pardon him for ballot rigging, violence and dictatorship. Mikheil Saakashvili would do better sending his two millionaire brothers to Afghanistan,” Natelashvili said at a news conference.

He also criticized EU and NATO officials for providing “a warm welcome” to President Saakashvili during his visit to Brussels on February 26-27.

Natelashvili said that this kind of policy by the western powers towards the Georgian leader only encourages Saakashvili’s “dictatorship.”

Natelashvili’s Labor Party advocated Georgia’s NATO membership a couple of years ago, but the party has recently been accused by the ruling National Movement party of joining “the Kremlin-sponsored anti-NATO campaign.”

When asked about his position on Georgia’s NATO integration in a recent interview, Natelashvili responded that his major goal is at first “to get rid of Saakashvili’s regime” and he will start thinking about other issues, including NATO, after accomplishing this goal.

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