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Defence Ministry claims compulsory military conscription abolished

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 25
Georgia’s Ministry of Defence has responded to allegations of ex-Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli and stressed that compulsory military conscription remains abolished, as was decided by Khidasheli during her tenure as Defence Minister.

The statement came after the claims of Khidasheli’s election team, who said people in the regions were still recruited for the compulsory service.

Khidasheli, who rejected the notion of conscription in July after a year of being in office, stressed the Government was still trying to retain “the ugly, Soviet system of recruiting, which has no touch with true military service.”

The ex-Minister, who had to quit the Cabinet in early August due to her status as a member of the Republican Party which is running in the upcoming October 8 Parliamentary elections separately from the ruling coalition, appealed to other ministries to reject compulsory recruitment.

Responding to the accusations the Ministry of Defence, which is now chaired by ex-Deputy head of Georgia’s State Security Service Levan Izoria, said Khidasheli’s decree was in force.

“No one has rejected the decision adopted by the ex-Defence Minister,” the Defence Ministry stated.

Only 25 percent of people conscripted are recruited by the Defence Ministry; the remainder are sent into service with the ministries of Interior and Corrections.

Khidasheli said “it was regrettable” the ministries still continue to recruit people with compulsory service, as it was Georgia’s responsibility before NATO to practice only contract-based military service.

Commenting on the issue, the new Defence Minister said the solution made by Khidasheli over the ban on compulsory military service required time to be discussed.

The new Minister can release a new decree through which the compulsory military service will be restored.

The Republican Party, which is chaired by Khidasheli’s husband, current Parliament Chair Davit Usupashvili, had been the member of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition from 2012 until this summer.

The ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party decided to cooperate only with the Conservative Party from the coalition for the upcoming elections, while the rest of the coalition's parties – the Republicans, Industrials and the National Forum - announced they would run separately.

Khidasheli has already been named as a majoritarian candidate of the Republican Party in western, Zestaponi region.

The Georgian Dream coalition was founded by ex-Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections with the aim to defeat the nine-year rule of the previous, United National Movement Government.