Two Turkish and two Georgian warships exercised jointly in Black Sea waters off Georgia’s ports Poti and Batumi from April 30 through May 2. Code-named Caucasus-Amazonia-98, the exercises involved joint search and rescue operations to assist and escort ships in distress. The participating Turkish ships, both U.S.-built, included the frigate Gaziantep and the destroyer Piale-Pasha, which have also been slated for joint exercises with the Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Romanian navies in the Black Sea, as part of a set of exercises currently being conducted by the Turkish navy. The Gaziantep, the smaller of the two Turkish ships, is armed with missiles and carries helicopters. (Russian agencies, May 1 and 2)
The Georgian-Turkish exercise represents a breakthrough for Georgia’s nascent navy and for Georgian-Turkish military cooperation. The agreement to hold this exercise was finalized last month by Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Ismail Hakki Karadaiy and Georgia’s then-Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze at a meeting in Tbilisi. Turkey has recently handed over to Georgia–gratis–two coastal guard boats. Similar donations from other countries are making up for the ships that Russia withheld from Georgia when the latter claimed its due share of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet.
SECURITY MINISTRY REORGANIZED AFTER ASSAULT ON SHEVARDNADZE.