Visit of the NATO Military Committee to Georgia, originally planned for this month, has postponed, according to Georgia’s ambassador to NATO and government officials.
NATO Military Committee is the primary source of military advice to the Alliance’s civilian decision-making bodies and is made up of senior military officers from NATO member countries.
News about postponement of the visit was first announced by Georgia’s Ambassador to NATO, Grigol Mgaloblishvili, late on November 8.
“In general this is a very important event because all military representatives from 28 member states take part in such visits and it is very unfortunate that the Alliance took such a decision to postpone this visit,” Mgaloblishvili, who was Georgia’s PM for three months in late 2008 and early 2009, told Rustavi 2 TV via phone from Brussels on November 8.
Asked if the decision to postpone this visit was related to the arrest of chief of staff of the Georgian armed forces, Mgaloblishvili responded: “It is natural that when an event of such scale is being postponed it is related to the situation existing in the country.”
Georgia’s new State Minister State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexi Petriashvili, said on November 9 that Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces should have been “a major host” of visiting NATO delegation. He said that although the visit was postponed, decision on new date of the visit would be made “in shortest period of time” following appointment of the new Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces.
Chief of Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, Brigadier-General Giorgi Kalandadze was arrested on November 7 on charges involving alleged abuse of soldiers in October, 2011 when he was deputy chief of army staff. Commander of 4th brigade of the armed forces, Zurab Shamatava, and former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia were also arrested in connection to the same case, although Akhalaia also faces other charges as well.
Giorgi Kalandadze, 32, was appointed by President Saakashvili as Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces a week after the October 1 parliamentary elections. New Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, who was confirmed on the post together with new cabinet on October 25, said on November 2 that consultations were ongoing with the President’s office on Kalandadze’s replacement.
President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party claims that Kalandadze’s arrest was politically motivated as new Defense Minister failed to replace Kalandadze with his loyal figure. MP Giorgi Baramidze of UNM, who is a former state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said that the arrest of Kalandadze on “ludicrous charges” had already “damaged” Georgia’s NATO integration process and resulted into postponement of the visit of NATO Military Committee.
Georgia’s PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, accompanied by Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, will visit Brussels on November 12-14, according to Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze.
She said that PM Ivanishvili would meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on November 14.
State Minister, Alexi Petriashvili, said that this visit was a demonstration that Georgia was committed to its Euro-Atlantic integration and that “EU and NATO have a very principled position over deepening their cooperation with Georgia’s new authorities.”
Georgia’s Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, spoke on phone with NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, on November 9 to discuss “issues related to Georgia’s NATO membership” and PM Ivanishvili’s upcoming visit to Brussels, according to the Georgian Defense Ministry.