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Monday, December 25
Defense Minister on New Reserve Concept

The new Georgian military reserve system, to be introduced in the near future, was one of the topics of an interview Defense Minister Levan Izoria gave to Imedi TV on December 21, a day after his pre-confidence vote appearance before the lawmakers.

Izoria said the new concept envisioned two reserve components. One of them - “the active reserve” - is to include former soldiers, both contract and drafted ones. The active reserve will not be compulsory, however, with former servicemen only having an opportunity to volunteer for membership, with contract and salary. The active reserve members will have to train 45 days a year.

The second - “the mobilization component,” - according to Izoria, “involve broader participation of the society.” The Ministry of Defense will have an electronic database, supposed to include “every citizen that can potentially be ready for mobilization.” Izoria said these citizens would be categorized within this system, with their organized mobilization prepared in advance.

Izoria added that the reserve concept had been prepared after “very close cooperation with all stakeholders,” including the Parliament members, the President and the NGOs, and characterized the new concept as “new and specific initiatives” that would strengthen Georgia’s defensive potential, with both active and mobilization reserve.

In his interview, the Defense Minister also mentioned that the U.S. Congress had agreed to the Javelin anti-armor missile sale to Georgia, and that the equipment required for the first phase of the French anti-air system installment had already arrived in Georgia, with the training of the Georgian personnel to begin early next year.

Abkhazian “visas” to be issued at Enguri border crossing

Breakaway Abkhazia will start issuing “visas” at the Enguri border crossing. Until now, these travel documents have only been issued in Sokhumi and Gali.

DFWatch was made aware of the new procedures, which will come into effect from January, by one of the school principal from the Gali district who attended a meeting with separatist authorities.

Like other documents issued by Sokhumi, these “visas” are not recognized by Georgia.

Locals DFWatch talked to expressed a positive attitude to the decision, hoping it will mean a significant simplification of the procedures associated with getting obtaining an entry permit.

Firstly, the people we talked to said the processing time for a “visa” is very long, sometimes several months. If Sokhumi goes ahead with the decision, they expect the waiting time to be much shorter.

Secondly, they complain that sometimes a travel document is not issued even after submitting all the documentation needed and paying the fee.

“We often pay the fee, but the Russian border guards find out at the ‘border’ that the ‘visas’ are fake,” a resident of Barghebi village said. “So if this [issuing visas at the Enguri checkpoint] happens, it’s probably better for us. It may be the only way to bring our children and grandchildren here.”

Visas are valid for 10, 20 or 30 days. A 10-day visa receipt in Sukhumi costs 750 Russian rubles (USD 13), in Gali the same document costs 1,800 rubles (USD 31). 20 and 30-day visas in Sokhumi cost 1,400 Russian rubles (USD 24) and in Gali it costs 2,500 rubles (USD 43). The document can be extended by paying the relevant sum.
(DF watch)