Partners in Peace: Georgian defense chief discusses regional security on Armenia trip

Georgia’s Minister of Defense Tinatin Khidasheli has completed her official visit to Armenia, which was assessed ambiguously in Yerevan. On the one hand, experts say that Georgia is trying to invite Armenia to the security system under the auspices of the West, on the other hand, they think that Tbilisi is trying to understand the extent to which Armenia, a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Russian military base it hosts can be a threat to Georgia.

After a meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Khidasheli said that Georgia is ready to play an active role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“Georgia’s position is very simple – we want to ensure peace in the region. We are ready to cooperate in any format and in any direction if it helps maintain peace in the region. Any destabilization, be it in the Nagorno-Karabakh or some other direction, will be a problem for Georgia as well as for the countries that are involved in the conflict. As in the case of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we are looking for peace and most peaceful way, just as we are interested in being one of the main participants in the search for peace in any other direction. In this respect, the positions of our two countries coincide. We have agreed that any topic that may arise between the sides can be solved very quickly if there is a direct communication path, and this was the main purpose of the visit,” Georgia’s defense chief said.

At the same time, Khidasheli denied that Georgia recently sold arms to Azerbaijan, as it was reported on the website of the Delta company. In an interview with the minister said that she rechecked the information and it was confirmed that it is false.

At the same time, the Georgian minister called Turkey and Azerbaijan strategic partner of Georgia in the region. “Turkey is a neighboring country, a NATO member, and this further deepens and strengthens the relationship between us,” said Khidasheli, thanking Turkey for its support.

As to how Georgia and Armenia will jointly work for regional security if Armenia is a CSTO member country and Georgia aspires to become a NATO member, the Georgian minister said that the two countries can have at least one common interest – peace.

In 2008, during a five-day Russian-Georgian war, Armenia maintained neutrality and guaranteed Georgia’s security on its southern border. Then Tbilisi, despite the absence of diplomatic relations with Russia, agreed to the Russian-Armenian transit through Georgia.

“Only two weeks ago I returned from Afghanistan, where I had the opportunity, along with the Georgian servicemen, to meet with soldiers of the Republic of Armenia. It is one of the best examples to demonstrate how successful cooperation can be when countries want to work together for peace. That is the example that we talked, discussing support for stability, greater peace, greater security in the region, and joint activities,” said the Georgian defense minister.

Meanwhile, the United States is reportedly going to allocate about $10 million for assisting to Georgia’s border police. Among other things, the section of the Georgian-Armenian border will be equipped with technical means of surveillance and monitoring.