TBILISI HOPES FOR NATO’S SUPPORT.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 38
The Georgian parliament’s committee for defense and national security came out yesterday in favor of asking NATO to “protect Georgia’s security and independence.” “All European countries, except Russia and Belarus, aspire to integrate with NATO,” committee chairman Revaz Adamia said while explaining the committee’s recommendation to President Eduard Shevardnadze. The committee, furthermore, renewed an earlier request to Shevardnadze to initiate negotiations to remove Russia’s four military bases from Georgia. It called for the immediate removal of Russian troops from the Gudauta and Vaziani bases, describing the former as a source of aid to Abkhazia and the latter as a potential security threat to nearby Tbilisi.
The committee acknowledged that it would be “more problematic” to obtain an early removal of Russian troops from the Batumi and Akhalkalaki bases, which are located respectively in Ajaria and in Javakhetia. Ajar leader Aslan Abashidze and the ethnic Armenian population of Javakhetia favor the retention of these bases (Russian agencies, February 23). The proposal to turn to NATO is the most open and explicit to have been made in Georgia so far. Unofficially, some leading Georgian politicians have made no secret of that aspiration, but the presence of Russian troops in the country limits Tbilisi’s leeway. Neighboring Azerbaijan, free from Russian troops, recently became the first among the newly independent countries to offer to host troops of NATO countries on its territory.
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