Georgian troops take an oath at a May 26 ceremony to mark Independence Day in Tbilisi. (Leli Blagonravova / AFP)
TBILISI, GEORGIA — Georgia has sent troops to the Central African Republic to help a European Union military force curb sectarian violence in the strife-torn country, the tiny Caucasus nation’s president told AFP on Tuesday
“Georgia is providing troops to the EU’s mission in the Central African Republic as part of its responsibility to contribute to global security,” President Giorgi Margvelashvili said by telephone.
Some 140 Georgian soldiers have joined the EU force tasked with pacifying the capital Bangui, Georgia’s defense ministry said in a statement.
Western-backed Georgia is poised to sign a key association pact with the EU this month and aspires to one day join the 28-nation bloc.
Brussels invited Georgia in November to participate in the EU’s crisis management operations.
In February, Tbilisi also provided a handful of officers to a separate EU military mission to train Mali’s army.
Led by France, the EU’s forces in CAR are trying — along with African Union troops — to head off a spiral of bloodletting between Christians and Muslims that has left tens of thousands dead and displaced around a quarter of the landlocked nation’s 4.6 million people.
Georgia currently has around 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the largest non-NATO contributor to the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force in the country. That number will soon be halved as the international force prepares to withdraw later this year.