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Ex-Defence Minister critical on resumption of conscription

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 11
Georgia’s Ministry of Defence has explained its reasons for resuming military conscription, which was abolished by ex-Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli in June this year.

The Ministry stressed that the resumed conscription would be “absolutely different” from that which operated in Georgia previously.

The difference meant three-month full-scale combat training for conscripts, days-off on weekends, daily combat-training hours over nine months after the three-months of active training and increased monthly pay.

“After one year of service, the conscript will have a chance to automatically enroll in contract-based military service with a high salary,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry added that the monthly pay for conscripts would be 50 GEL instead of the previous 7GEL.

The reasons why the current Minister of Defence Levan Izoria resumed the compulsory conscription were named as following:

The National Conception of Defence, which envisaged military readiness for small nations such as Georgia.

Saving money: if the annual salary for a contract-based solder amounted to $11,000, the cost would be reduced to $3,700 for the state budget in the case of conscripts.

Military units will be fully staffed under NATO standards after the resuming of mandatory conscription.

Resuming the system will help the integration of ethnic minorities living in Georgia and raising civil awareness.

The Ministry stressed the decision over resuming compulsory conscription was made after “active consultations with NATO and American experts”.

Responding to the stated reasons, Khidasheli wrote that the idea that the Ministry will save state money through the resumption was “weak and not serious”.

She also said Izoria’s decision was “against the young people who had no wish to serve in the Army”.

Khidasheli stated that the monthly pay for conscripts was “extremely low” and many young people who had jobs would have to quit them and “forcibly serve” for a massive pay reduction.

She continued on to say that many youngsters in Georgia had bank loans and covered their learning fees through their salaries, and this would be impossible if they had just 50 GEL monthly pay.

The ex-Minister also said suicide cases among conscripts were high.

“You can close your eyes to the reasons,” Khidasheli told Izoria.

The former minister reiterated her previous view and emphasized that service in the army must be a choice and not a mandatory or a forcible act.