Georgian soldiers from a company of Batumi-based light infantry battalion stand at a ceremony in Vaziani military base, June 6, 2014. Photo: InterPressNews
A company from the Batumi-based infantry battalion will head this week to join EU military mission in the Central African Republic (EUFOR RCA).
About 140 Georgian soldiers will be part of the EU mission which is mandated to secure the capital city of Bangui and create the conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid. France’s Major General Philippe Pontiès is the mission commander. EUFOR RCA forces will be concentrated on Bangui airport and capital’s two districts.
At a departure ceremony for troops heading to the Central African Republic, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on June 6: “What we have been doing in Afghanistan and what you will be doing in Africa will make our country stronger and will strengthen authoritativeness of our country.”
Soldiers from the Batumi-based infantry battalion returned from their tour of duty to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan in January, 2014.
EU ambassador to Georgia, Philip Dimitrov, said at the ceremony in the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi: “In my country [Bulgaria], before it was member of NATO and EU, we had a simple principle: act as if you are a member already and the time will come. I commend the Georgian government for taking this principle too. You are the ones who will be one of the visible proofs that this principle works.”
“It is an important day for Georgia, for the European Union; it is an important day for France and for Africa,” Renaud Salins, French ambassador to Georgia, said at the ceremony. “Tomorrow the first contingent of the Georgian troops is departing towards the Central African Republic… France as the leading nation for this operation is particularly pleased with this Georgian military contribution.”
It is the first time when Georgia will contribute to EU’s operations under the Common Security and Defense Policy. Georgia and EU signed a framework agreement on Georgia’s participation in EU’s crisis management operations in November, 2013.
Parliament endorsed Georgia’s participation in EU’s mission in the Central African Republic on February 21 with 106 votes to 1.