NATO, Georgia to share radars in 2007: Tbilisi

Georgia's radars will probably be integrated into NATO's radar system by the end of this year, earlier than planned because of worries about Russian military flights, the Georgian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

NATO, Georgia to share radars in 2007: Tbilisi
Georgia's radars will probably be integrated into NATO's radar system by the end of this year, earlier than planned because of worries about Russian military flights, the Georgian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

"Recent incidents prompted discussions in Brussels, at NATO headquarters, to speed up these procedures, so that Georgia is incorporated into that system as soon as possible," Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kuteliya told Reuters.

"They should probably be finished late this autumn."

The announcement came a day after Georgia accused Russian aircraft of trespassing earlier this week into its airspace and two weeks after it accused a Russian jet of dropping a missile on its soil. Moscow has dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

Integration of Georgia's radars into the NATO system will give NATO controllers real-time information about any incursions into Georgian airspace, Kuteliya said in an interview.

In Brussels, NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said she was unable to give a precise date for the linking of radar systems with Georgia's but added: "It seems that the implementation will be ready in the near future."

Georgia's pro-Western leadership has started procedures which could ultimately lead to the ex-Soviet country becoming a NATO member. Former imperial master Russia opposes Georgia's accession to the alliance.

RUSSIAN OPPOSITION

The integration of radar systems is likely to sharpen Russian concerns that a Western military presence is creeping closer to its borders. Georgia has formed a close alliance with Washington and receives U.S. military aid.

Russia already opposes a U.S. plan to station elements of a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and has suspended its compliance with an arms control treaty, accusing NATO of building up conventional forces in eastern Europe.

"Data which our radar system gives us on the situation in Georgian airspace will be accessible for all ... NATO countries. It will be in real time," said Kuteliya.

"Everything will be displayed at NATO headquarters, at the central command point," he said.

"We have completed the technical work and bought various pieces (of equipment) in order to be incorporated into this system ... Now technical and legal procedures are under way in NATO for inclusion into this system."

NATO spokeswoman Romero said the system allowed for the exchange of "airtrack data" with NATO partners.

"The partners connect to the NATO system and receive NATO data at the unclassified level and they share their own data with the NATO system," she said.

The alliance agreed in 2003 to a plan to share radar data with Georgia, but technical issues have remained unresolved.

In Brussels on Wednesday, NATO member states discussed the need to finalize the plan after reviewing an August 6 incident in which Tbilisi accused Russia of dropping a one-ton missile -- which did not explode -- on Georgian soil.

On Wednesday, Georgia's foreign ministry said a fighter jet flying from Russia had a day earlier flown 5 km (three miles) into Georgian airspace.

Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of Russia's military staff, denied the claim on Thursday. He said Georgian officials "must be starting to suffer from hallucinations."

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Ağustos 2007, 18:28
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