Russia’s Lavrov criticizes NATO over plans for drills in Georgia
14:47 | 16/ 04/ 2009
YEREVAN, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s foreign minister criticized
on Thursday NATO’s plans to conduct exercises in Georgia, saying they
could give the Georgian regime a sense of impunity, and raise tensions
in the Caucasus region.
The Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 exercises led by the
Western military alliance will be held from May 6 through June 1, and
will not feature weapons or military vehicles.
Sergei Lavrov said: "I hope that NATO countries, in planning future
interaction with Georgia within the Partnership for Peace program,
will avoid steps that could nudge the Georgian regime into a feeling
of permissiveness and impunity."
"With regard to Georgia’s regime, a demonstration of NATO’s
participation [in the exercises] will not send the right signal by
those who honestly want to achieve stability in the Caucasus," he
The diplomat said that countries should understand that in view of the
August 2008 conflict, which begun with Georgia’s attack on South
Ossetia, supplying arms to Georgia poses a severe danger.
He said that NATO countries have ignored Russia’s warnings in recent
years, in continually supplying offensive weapons to Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili’s regime.
NATO Press Secretary Robert Pshel told RIA Novosti that during the
exercises, "No one will be using weapons or tanks."
The drills are aimed at improving interoperability between NATO and
partner countries, within the framework of Partnership for Peace,
Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programs.
The exercises are "not purely NATO," but are partner exercises within
the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, Pshel said. "They
are open to all of NATO’s partner countries, including Russia."
Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, earlier said the country had
asked NATO’s leadership not to hold the exercises.
"We sent an official note to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer pr at the NATO military exercises in Georgia, planned for the
near future, be postponed or canceled," he said.
A total of 19 countries will be participating in the military
exercises: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Greece,
Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Spain, Macedonia, Turkey, the United Arab
Emirates, Great Britain, and the U.S.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress