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Defence Ministry gets thumbs up

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 29
The financing of the Defence Ministry will be increased and those funds will be earmarked for military training, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili stated during his visit to that Ministry on July 28. He also gave a high evaluation of the reforms carried out by present Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia and underlined the challenges and future goals of the Ministry.

“Our military are the elite part of Georgian society as they sacrifice themselves for their homeland. 2008 showed that there is no 100% guarantee of anything and that is why a powerful defence system is vitally important for the country. One of the most important steps for the advancement and development of the system is participation in the Afghanistan peace operations. This is a great experience for Georgian soldiers. We should not think of concluding our involvement, on the contrary, we should find ways to be more actively involved in such operations. We are consulting on this theme with our partners at present,” Saakashvili stated.

The President said that as this sphere is so important for the country’s future Defence financing will be increased. "In previous years, due to the economic crisis, the financing of the Ministry has been reduced, however we still bought military equipment. We are thinking of increasing our assistance to the Ministry, however these funds will not be spent on equipment. The priority at the present moment is serious military preparation, so we will focus on training and study. We Georgians are talented people, we should find ways to free ourselves of always needing other people's assistance and set examples in different areas for others,” the President said.

Saakashvili positively estimated the reforms carried out in the Ministry by Bacho Akhalaia. "Three stages of tests were held in the Ministry and nearly 800 employees were dismissed. Now only qualified people are left here, which is important for the Ministry’s work and for the country of course,” Saakashvili said. He underlined the importance of military training for each part of the country. "Each village should be able to protect its land, so in each village some kind of military training centres should be opened with proper training means and arms, so that the people there will be able to defend their property. It has become obvious to everyone that our enemy does not obey norms and therefore if they decide to step out of the occupied parts of the country towards us they must be made to regret this,” Saakashvili said.

Military analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the military magazine Arsenal Irakli Aladashvili has told The Messenger that, "It has become difficult to see what is actually going on in the Defence Ministry as the Ministry has closed itself off from outsiders, journalists among them. Of course some TV channels have a close relationship with the authorities but the Ministry is becoming more and more closed even for them, which gives us fewer chances to assess the situation and reforms adequately. This is the negative aspect of the Ministry. As for the positives, the President has talked about them and has given more information about them, however, more involvement in the Afghanistan operations has been and will be negatively estimated by me,” Aladashvili said.

"The fact that Georgian soldiers should not be sent to Afghanistan, so far away from their own country, was proved during the August war, when the soldiers in Iraq were not able to protect their own country and their return was only arranged after the war was over. When the President of Georgia talks about experience I can agree with him partially. Experience is good of course, as it enables Georgian soldiers to keep in touch with modern military methods. However, they do not take part in open attacks on the enemy and that enemy does not have the military equipment Russia has. Therefore Georgians do not gain practical experience of fighting against what the Russians will use against us. This is why I am categorically against more Georgian soldiers going to Afghanistan,” Aladashvili stated.