Georgia will not choose between neighbors, Defense Minister says

“Georgia will not choose between its neighbors,” the country’s Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said after a meeting with her Turkish and Azerbaijani counterparts.

Asked about the Karabakh conflict at a joint press conference, the Georgian Defense Minister said: “In January 2016 I was in Yerevan (Armenia) where I said Azerbaijan and Turkey are Georgia’s strategic partners … Georgia has a lot of friends. We work with many countries. Today the most important thing for Georgia is peace in the region. We will do our best to contribute to this stability and peace.”

She continued: “Armenia is our neighbor and we don’t have problems with the country. However, I said there is a partnership – the way countries work together.”

“Turkey is a NATO member and Georgia wants to become a NATO member too and this defines our strategic partnership. Armenia made a different choice. It joined the Eurasian Union, where we aren’t going to enter. And this defines the level of our cooperation with Armenia – we are friends, without being strategic partners.”

Khidasheli added there is a major Armenian minority group in Georgia with the same rights as anyone else in the country, which is why cooperation with Armenia was as important as with Azerbaijan or any other country.

At the press conference Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan announced plans to conduct joint military exercises in Georgia in spring 2017.

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