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Defence Minister restores compulsory military service in army

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 8
Georgia’s Minister of Defence Levan Izoria stated that he had decided to restore compulsory military service in the army after it had been abolished by his predecessor Tinatin Khiadasheli in June this year.

About 25 percent of all eligible conscripts served in the Defence Ministry and Izoria stressed that this had to be maintained but reformed.

The Minister stressed that countries as small as Georgia need conscripts.

However, Izoria highlighted that unlike in years prior, recruits would undergo intensive training that would enable them to be well-prepared in case of any national emergency or to continue their military careers in contract-based service.

He also said the recruits would have days offs and their monthly pay should be 50 GEL.

The ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party representative and the former head of Parliament’s Defence Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili, stressed he approved Izoria’s position.

He said he was against the abolition of the system from the very beginning and believed it should has been reformed instead.

Meanwhile, Executive Secretary of the non-Parliamentary opposition Free Democrats, the party that is still chaired by ex-Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, has demanded “detailed explanations” from the Minister as to why the “ugly” system should be maintained.

Tamar Kekenadze,executive secretary of the Free Democrats, highlighted the importance of the country’s total move to “contract-based, professional military system, rather than focusing on outdated compulsory service that only caused budgetary expenses”.

She also stressed that the change to a contract-based system would make Georgia closer to NATO standards.

When announcing her decision, ex-Minister Khidasheli said serving in Georgia’s Armed Forces (GAF) was an honour and it needed to be based on a voluntarily basis.

"The GAF doesn’t need servants who were forced to join it against their own will,” Khidasheli said.

Currently, military service in Georgia is compulsory for male citizens from 18 to 27 years who do not have a deferment or an exemption from service.

About 25 percent of all eligible conscripts typically served in the Defence Ministry while the remaining 75 percent served in the Interior Ministry or Corrections Ministry.