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Defense Minister dislikes compulsory conscription

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, August 3
The Defence Minister of Georgia, Tinatin Khidasheli, says that military service in Georgia should not be compulsory; however, she is not for complete reformation of the system.

She believes that in the current situation, the country should have a chance of increasing military forces.

“In general, I am against compulsory conscription and I believe that an army based around contracts is much more efficient, but I am against the abolition of compulsory military service as there must an opportunity of using such a lever and it should be written in legislation in order to avoid any misunderstanding,” she stated.

According to Khidasheli, Georgia's Army is ready for the changes, because contracted military staff vastly outnumber the conscripts, who currently make up only 7-8% of the Georgian Army.

She also noted that on July 31 the government approved a new plan of autumn recruitment, according to which the number of autumn conscripts will be decreased from 10,000 to 2,500.

“We are on the right path and by 2016 there will not be any compulsory soldiers,” said the Defence Minister.

Chief of General Staff, Major-General Vakhtang Kapanadze does not fully share the vision.

He stated that if necessary, the country should have an opportunity to increase military forces by compulsory military service.

“We have to move to professional armed forces, but if necessary, we should have the opportunity of compulsory recruitment of soldiers; I do not think that it is urgent to adopt this law,” Kapanadze stated.

The draft law about abolishing compulsory military service in Georgia was initiated by the member of New Political Center, Zurab Japaridze, who quit the opposition United National Movement several weeks ago.

Due to the holidays in Parliament, the draft will likely be discussed during the autumn session.

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