Military Co-operation has become the Focus of Georgia-France Relations 

Ecaterine Siradze-Delaunay

During the last year, under the framework of developing bilateral relations between France and Georgia the expeditious strengthening of the military cooperation between the countries deserve a special mention. In this regard, deployment of Georgian military contingent to Central African Republic (CAR), and success with cooperation in the defence industry can be particularly emphasized. 

The special focus has to be paid to the positive reception in France of the decision of the Georgian government to deploy the Georgian military contingent (the companion from Batumi’s Light Infantry Battalion- in total 168 persons) to Central African Republic (CAR) to participate in the peace-keeping mission established under the auspices of European Union. Georgian military contingent was deployed to Bangui in June-July 2014 and successfully accomplished the important tasks: protecting the territory of Mboko Airport (1 platoon) and patrolling in Bangui city (3 platoons).  

Initially it was scheduled that Georgian contingent would stay in Central African Republic (CAR) until December 15, 2014, the date of the end of European Union military mission. However, France requested to prolong the mission of Georgian contingent. The decision was reached in November 2015 to extend the mission until March 2015- the date of the arrival of UN military mission to Central African Republic (CAR). Presently, after successfully accomplishing the mission goals, 5 Georgian military instructors remain in Bangui and actively participate in military trainings.   

The participation of Georgia in the above-mentioned mission not only helped increase compatibility between Georgian and NATO forces, but also gave an important impulse to the development of bilateral Georgian and French military cooperation- also adequately reflected in a development of bilateral political relations. French soldiers unanimously praised the professionalism and high qualification of Georgian soldiers and emphasized the high level of a mutual trust.    

 The last year has also been important in terms of developing bilateral relations between Georgia and France in the defence industry.  There have been active negotiations in recent years with the Ministry of Defence of France and representative of French defense industry. Several successful visits to France by the Minister of Defence of Georgia took place. This process logically led to signing important agreements for Georgia between the Minister of Defence T. Khidasheli and representative of French defense industry in June and July 2015. These agreements will help Georgia increase its defence capacities.     

After 2008 Russia-Georgia War, France is the first country, which broke “the unwritten embargo” of selling military arms to Georgia and enabled the young Georgian state  to improve its defence systems and protect its democratic achievements.  As a result of this cooperation, the defence systems of Georgia will be much stronger and will become an integral part of international defense system compatible with NATO.