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Alasania accuses leading officials of wrecking Georgian-French air-defense talks

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, April 6
Georgia’s former Defense Minister Irakli Alasania accuses Prime Minister Irakli Alasania and his current replacement Mindia Janelidze of wrecking very significant air-defense cooperation with the French side.

Alasania stressed at a special briefing on April 3, that a high-level political decision in connection with the purchase of air-defense capabilities from France was made when French President Francois Hollande visited Tbilisi in May, 2014.

According to Alasania, proposals were made and approved by the government, and he was authorized to sign a preliminary deal – a memorandum of understanding – with the French side during his visit to Paris in late October, 2014.

Alasania says that prior to the signing ceremony on October 27, 2014, current Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze (serving then as the secretary of security and crisis management council) phoned him and conveyed PM Garibashvili’s instruction not to proceed with the signing of the memorandum.

Alasania claims that he anyway signed the memorandum which term expired on March 31, 2015, and stresses that the current government hindered the implementation of the very important document.

The former official and the current leader of the opposition Free Democrats also explained that the document, if implemented, would provide “protection against fighter and attack aircraft, as well as against short and medium-range ballistic missiles.”

According to him, the training of Georgian soldiers in handling this system was also envisaged, and all the benefits would not be a burden on Georgia’s budget.

Alasania also states that the current authorities have also tried to influence him not to sign the document, and the arrest of the five employees of the defense ministry for misspending budgetary funds while Alasania was in France served the aim.

Alasania has demanded the creation of a special commission in parliament studying the issue. However, the majority members are against this.

In response, Defense Minister Janelidze stated that such a document has not been signed and made counter accusations, by blaming Alasania in making absurd and irresponsible statements. He stressed that talks over the defense system issues were ongoing.