“Russian Armed Forces Will Leave Georgian Territory”
22 November, 2012
“Russian Armed Forces Will Leave Georgian Territory”

Interview with Defense Minister Irakli Alasania


Several issues earlier we presented an interview with Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania. Below we present the continuation of that interview. This one deals with national defense plans of Georgia.

GJ: As a minister, do you have any questions to your predecessors?

Irakli Alasania: If you mean violations of law, it’s not my business. It is prosecutors who examine these violations. There were indeed a number of facts when human rights and freedoms were infringed. Contacts with

the military and the ministry personnel frequently assumed the form of harassments. I know that many honorable military people were fired. Every case will be examined individually. We cannot interfere with the court function but we will set up a special group for the rehabilitation of maltreated military personnel, be it dismissals or imprisonments.

Q: Before the elections you used to say that the previous Government was preparing armed groups under the guise of so called reserves to threaten the population. Do you have evidence of it now?

A: When I made that statement, the former defense minister and President did not argue my words. These informal armed groups still exist. We have started relating to these people. We are monitoring all the weapons dispensed to them. It is necessary to engage them into training rhythm of either guards or any other military unit so that we reshuffle their ranks and give them the chance to choose between going home and joining the army. In any case, the process will take time.

Q: How and in what form are you going to liaise with media?

A: We would not impose any restriction for media. Public relations service is being formed anew. We will have a speaker responsible for engaging of public in the defense reforms.

Q: Do you intend to establish a special inter-agency group to study the actions of the Ministry of Defense and army representatives during the August 2008 war?

A: It was our big mistake not to have done the objective analysis. I mean 1990s too. We are a sole country in the world which fought with Russia three times in the last twenty years. I mean only fully-fledged wars because there were also Tskhinvali 2004 and Gali 1998. We have a gold fund of experience and should use it to develop the defense doctrine. We have to learn from our past mistakes in military planning. We failed to take advantage of the big historical chance that rolled out in front of Georgia at the time of Soviet Union breakup.

Q: What sort of military and political threats does Georgia face and how adequately the mobile but small army could deal with them?

A: We will never have a large army like Turkey or Russia. Our vision is to strengthen the component of our social and mobile forces in agreement with militaries, to shift a focus to air defense and artillery support. The main threat is the likelihood of resumption of the armed conflict with the Russian forces occupying parts of the Georgian territories. Therefore, we have to move the accent on to maintenance of peace and international community so that we enhance the effectiveness of the EU Monitoring Mission. The military readiness has to be high. If the enemy strikes us we have to reciprocate with as much harm as to force it to forego the aggressive intention.

Besides, apart from the Russian armed forces, our region hosts a variety of conflicts, of which those in the North Caucasus carry a degree of danger for us. Therefore we have to be ready for instantaneous counter-terrorism operations that necessitate maintenance of close ties with special MIA units.

Q: Do you think Russian forces occupying the Georgian territory, may leave as a result of peaceful negotiations?

A: Russian armed forces will leave the Georgian territory. They assumed this obligation according to the 2008 agreement. Indeed, even if Russian and European interpretations differ on the matter, Russian Federation will have to honor the commitment assumed by their President who signed the agreement. So, it was not me who hoisted this obligation on their shoulders.

Q: Georgia will remain a party to ISAF operation till 2014. Would not it be wiser to reduce the casualty number by a relative downsizing of the 1500 strong contingent?

A: We are heirs to the obligations that Georgia assumed by joining the international security operations. This is an exact matching of values. I will bring this mission to its end.

Q: Do you really plan to introduce the post of the military ombudsman?

A: Yes, it was my own initiative to create this position. I will wait for a decision of the Parliament on the matter.

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