Georgia has been a security provider to Nato in Afghanistan, with heavy commitment such as largest per-capita contributor inte RSM-mission. Georgia´s Charge d’Affaires Levan Machavariani points out that this demonstrates Georgias ambitions and commitments to join Nato as a member state.
Since the beginning of the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, Georgia took an active part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation and later in the Resolute Support Mission (RSM). Being one of the largest contributors to the international efforts, Georgia’s ISAF-contingent presence reached its peak during 2012-14 with 1 560-troops deployed on the ground. Later, Georgia became the largest per-capita contributor to the RSM mission –857 personnel were distributed under different Allied commands. More than 30 Georgian soldiers were killed and hundreds were wounded in the missions in Afghanistan.
During these missions, Georgia’s airspace and its territory were used as a transit route to Afghanistan. At the final stage of the RSM mission, we supported the withdrawal of the NATO and partner forces from Afghanistan providing the host nation support and full transit opportunities through our territory.
With its participation in the NATO-led operations, Georgia clearly demonstrated that it could be a security provider (as opposed to a security consumer) in a NATO framework.
Current developments in Afghanistan threaten the regional and global security environment. Taliban’s military advancement and eventual conquest of the capital city of Kabul on 15th of August had caught many off-guard and put numberless foreigners and Afghans who had worked for years alongside participants of the NATO-led operations, civil society groups, aid organizations, and journalists, in a life-threatening danger.
In the general chaos, that followed the military take-over, each country, including Georgia, has been trying to safely evacuate its citizens from Afghanistan.
Georgian Government got actively involved in the concerted efforts of the international partners to organize humanitarian mission and secure safe evacuation processes. In the times of great difficulties, Georgia once again demonstrated its importance as a regional actor, as well as a reliable stakeholder that can ensure the security and stability of the region.
Since various international organizations and partner states were carrying out urgent humanitarian evacuation of the employees and their family members from Afghanistan, Georgia was actively engaged in the process, as a trustworthy member of the international community. Accordingly, the Georgian side agreed to assist several international organizations, namely the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Open Government Partnership (OGP), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) in evacuation of their staff. Evacuees were provided with the temporary accommodations on the territory of Georgia.
Starting from August 14, three C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircrafts of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), operating as part of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program, have been deployed to the Tbilisi Airport. The aircrafts conducted regular flights on the route Tbilisi-Kabul-Tbilisi to evacuate military and civilian personnel from Afghanistan. Up to 20 flights from Kabul to Tbilisi brought approximately 2 500 people to the safety.
Inside the Tbilisi International Airport, Georgian authorities emerged a special facility to allocate evacuated personnel before the departure to the NATO member states via charter flights.
During the transit operation, the embassies of the member states of the Alliance and Georgian authorities provided evacuees with the first medical aid, food and other necessities. To ensure processing of the evacuated refugees, several member and non-member states have deployed their military and civilian personnel to the Tbilisi Airport.
Within hours, at the military base, adjacent to the Tbilisi International Airport, Georgian Defence Forces installed large multipurpose tents to host evacuees during the long delays before the departures. Norway deployed the team of the Armed Forces to support the transit operation in Georgia. The team was assigned at the military base of the Georgian Defence Forces. At the same location, Norway installed a Role 1 aid station with a capacity of receiving 35 patients and provide them with first aid if necessary. Moreover, the Georgian side created an interagency task force, which was responsible for supporting the transit operation with all necessary procedures.
Throughout the recent crisis, Georgia once again found itself actively involved safeguarding regional security hand-in-hand with its strategic partners in the North Atlantic Alliance. Being part of this mission and providing significant assistance for the success of the operation, proved Georgia’s vital importance to the geopolitical security.
After all, Georgia demonstrated its valid ambitions and commitment to become a NATO member state and to contribute in handling matters of collective defense and security in an effective and responsible manner.
Charge d’Affaires a.i., Embassy of Georgia, Stockholm