The Last anti-Russian Supper, or Keeping the Neighbors Happy


The military trainings of American, British and Georgian militaries Noble Partner 2016 taking place on the Vaziani Military Polygon are on-going and our Special Forces already plan on participating in military trainings in Turkey called ‘Caucasian Eagle’ and planned for May 31st to June 10th. Soldiers from Azerbaijan will also join the Georgians in Turkey. It is easy to imagine what the Kremlin’s reaction will be as it has not yet recovered from the Vaziani “nightmare” and already Turkey has been added to all of this. Most importantly this “nightmare” now features Azerbaijan.

The fact that Georgian and Azerbaijani militia will take part in these trainings was announced by Reuters on May 16th, the day after a ministerial meeting took place in Gabala, Azerbaijan, between the defense ministers of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, the biggest Russian anti-missile radar used to work in this city which hosted the “Last anti-Russian Supper.” Similar military trainings will also be conducted on Georgian territory. Minister of Defense of Georgia, Tina Khidasheli, invited Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers to the Vaziani Polygon, the infrastructure of which already satisfies the standards set by NATO.

It is not yet known when the mutual trainings of the three countries will take place in Vaziani. However, 2017 is already marked on the agenda of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia. This is truly an unprecedented event, as this is the first case in the last 25 years when Georgia’s military partnership has turned towards Azerbaijan. Although Minister Khidasheli says that it is not aimed against Armenia, it is hard to predict whether Yerevan will perceive it that way. Official Yerevan was informed well in advance of the decision personally by Minister Khidasheli, who visited the capital of Armenia earlier this year. “I was in Yerevan in January 2016 and I told them plainly that Azerbaijan and Turkey are the strategic partners of Georgia. Armenia made a different choice and joined the Eurasian Union, we do not plan on doing so. Hence, this determines the level of our relationships with Armenia. We will maintain friendly connections, but without strategic cooperation,” Khidasheli said.

While the governmental party was busy composing the election lists and dealing with the Georgian Dream Congress, truly significant tremors were rumbling away in the foreign policy of the country. Perhaps this was behind the fact that the “faces” of Georgian Dream suspiciously changed their attitude towards the Minister of Defense and the Republicans, connected with the Western orientation of the latter. “We want the European Council, but we do not want NATO” were the charges against them. The chief “face” of the governmental party, Tamaz Mechiauri, blamed the Minister of Defense for irritating the Russians. “We are irritating Russia with these military trainings and if something goes wrong our Defense Minister will be personally responsible for it,” said Mechiauri. Apparently, at that time the MP was not informed about the planned trainings in Turkey, otherwise he would have mentioned Armenia together with Russia in the list of potentially irritated countries.

Official Yerevan was truly alarmed by the trainings to be held in Turkey. However, the announcements made by the Minister of Defense of Armenia are clearly aimed at their internal politics rather than foreign. For sure Yerevan will not be able to put a stop to the process and spoiling relationships with Georgia will equal a disaster not only for Armenia but for its ally Russia as well. The economic life of Armenia flows directly through Tbilisi and any militarist actions will result in this road closing for them, just as 30 years ago it closed for Baku.

Zaza Jgarkava

20 May 2016 12:38