© AFP | France’s Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) shakes hands with Georgia’s Defence minister Levan Izoria after their briefing in Tbilisi on September 10, 2016
TBILISI (AFP) – French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Georgia on Saturday for talks on boosting the defences of the ex-Soviet nation aspiring to join NATO despite Moscow’s objections.
“Georgia has a mission to join the Alliance,” Le Drian told reporters.
“We will soon make a proposal for action so that Georgia is able to develop effective means of (ensuring) its air defence, which is central to its sovereignty.”
Tbilisi last year signed a $10-million deal with Paris to acquire a French air defence system.
Georgia’s air defence systems were largely destroyed during a brief war with Russia in 2008, which erupted as tensions grew over Georgia’s bid to join NATO and the European Union.
At a summit in Bucharest in 2008, NATO leaders agreed that Georgia will one day become a member of the alliance.
NATO has insisted that the Bucharest decision still stands but has so far refused to put the country on a formal membership path amid worries the move could alienate a resurgent Russia.
During his three-day visit, Le Drian will hold talks with Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the French embassy in Tbilisi said.
He will also decorate Georgian soldiers who served alongside French troops in the Central African Republic as part of an EU military training mission.
Tags: air defense, European Union, France, France's Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Georgia, Georgia will one day become a member of the alliance, Georgia's Defence minister Levan Izoria, Georgia's President Giorgi Margvelashvili, NATO, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, sovereignty, Tbilisi