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Alasania: Defense Ministry faces budgetary problems

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 29
The new Defense Minister of Georgia, Irakli Alasania, met with ministry employees and the leading figures of the united staff on October 27. The Minister spoke of the ministry's priorities and voiced that the Ministry budget has a deficit of 113 million GEL.

Alasania emphasized that some problematic issues have already been detected at the Defense Ministry; including the lack of 113 million GEL. According to the new minister, his working group has elaborated a proposal on how to defeat the crisis as soon as possible. (The MoD’s 2012 budget is set at GEL 676.5 million.)

“I will represent these proposals to the Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvil, on Monday,” Alasania said.

Alasania stated that the ministry’s main aim will be to protect peace, “but to protect peace we have to be in constant combat readiness,” Alasania suggested.

Alasania again underscored that the country will fulfill all its obligations with the international community and Georgian soldiers will remain a part of the ISAF mission. He also stated that positive reforms and their outcomes will be retained and much will be promoted for Georgian military advancement.

“The Georgian army will become faster, more mobile and flexible and capable to deter and resist the enemy. Among the priority issues are also the enhancement of Georgia's defense capabilities in the country, the transparent work of the MoD and the strengthening of civil control over the armed forces. NATO interoperability and the ongoing integration process will continue. The MoD will fulfill all the commitments and agreements undertaken before the international community,” Alasania stated.

Alasania focused attention on the new priorities of the Defense Ministry and highlighted that the military servicemen will be attributed more attention and their rights, social conditions and safety will be maximally protected. A full de-politicization of the Defense Ministry will also be carried out. According to the Minister, he will leave all the political and party positions.

“Military and defense production was mainly of a superficial nature used as a PR stunt by the former Georgian leadership. I would study this sector in detail and it will be my goal to promote the local military industry,” Alasania said.

He has also emphasized that the civil and media control should increase on the field of defense and strong parliamentary supervision should be imposed.

Alasania especially underscored that the defense system should be “completely depoliticized”.

The Defense Ministry has frequently been in the focus of the acting president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. He has stated many times that the survival of the country was the merit of the structure.

The President has also initiated an increase of ministry funding and promoting educational studies for Georgian soldiers. Mikheil Saakashvili also frequently speaks on Georgian soldiers’ heroism within the ISAF missions and emphasizes that participation in the mission shortens Georgia’s way to NATO and European structures. It should also be noted that the international community very often thanks the Georgian side, as Georgia represents one of largest contingents in Afghanistan.

Concerning the budget, the opposition United National Movement claims that the state budget “is as full as never before” and that Georgian Dream’s representatives’ statements concerning some misuse of funds is far from reality.

Georgian analysts also speak on reform necessity in the Defense system. According to the editor in chief of military-analytical magazine Arsenali, Irakli Aladashvili, the 2008 August War revealed those serious shortcomings which existed in the ministry. Aladashvili states that Georgia lacked important weaponry. However, the country could not even manage to use those which it had due to some organizational problems facing the Defense ministry.

Aladashvili shares the view that Georgia should participate in the international missions however the portion of participation should be looked over.