The Parliament, within the Ministerial Hour, heard the Defense Minister Levan Izoria speaking about the Governmental program implementation for 2018-2020.
He touched upon NATO-Georgia relations and progress so far: “Today, on April 4 NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary and it is symbolic to report to you this day about the progress of Georgia as one of the reliable NATO partner state. The foreign and security policy priorities envisage NATO integration and I am proud that during 27-year relations with NATO, Georgia-NATO relations have never been so positive and wide-scale”.
It is evidenced with NATO-Georgia Training 2019 held last week. “For the first time, Georgia as the partner state was assigned to plan the trainings and we have fulfilled our responsibility in dignified manner”.
During the last 3 years, it is one of the ambitious initiatives. He emphasized the statements by NATO Secretary General and Military Committee: “I would like to cite Mr. Stoltenberg that the reforms in the Defense Ministry are very impressive achieved jointly, which makes us believe and motivated to soon become full-fledged member of NATO. We state it on the basis of the reforms in full compliance with NATO defense and retention policy”.
He emphasized NGP and stated that Georgia was named at ANGP Conference as the model country. As NATO decided, NATO-Georgia Training and Assessment Center in 2020 will exercise its operative functions within NGP.
“NATO on the basis of the constant basis defines 5 positions for NATO representatives. It is realization of certain principle called More NATO in Georgia and More Georgia in NATO”.
He spoke about international missions: “For years, we have been contributing in international missions and proved to the civilized world that we are loyal in terms of democratic institutions and in military terms. I would like to stress loyalty of our positions towards NATO in Afghanistan”.
He touched upon Black Sea security: “We will do our best to ensure security for Georgian citizens along with NATO in the Black Sea region”.
Speaking about EU integration, he noted that the Ministry within security and foreign policy priorities, does its best for EU membership: “We are engaged in all strategic dialogues and fulfill our EUAA commitments and agenda”.
Georgia managed to participate in various initiatives for member states and USA is one of the key allies to Georgia on NATO integration path. As of the Georgia-USA relations: “On December 16, 2016 we signed the frame agreement and for the first time, defined the long-term cooperation plan for 3 years. In 2019, we successfully fulfilled all priorities and are now to sign the second long-term agreement”.
Financing by USA in military sphere is highly increased: “If 5 years ago US allocated 12 ml GEL, the allocation now constitutes 41 ml GEL. It is the joint policy we launched the ambitious defense readiness program (GDRP) consisting of 2 components – trainings and institutional maintenance of the progress”.
The Minister spoke about the procurements: “I would like to tell you that the Javelin system is fully acquired by Georgia. US allocations will be directed for repaid and modernization of the helicopters”.
He emphasized cooperation with GB, France and Germany: “After USA, it is the Great Britain represented in the multinational military trainings”.
The new format is Dimitri Amilakhvari Georgia-France Dialogue. He outlined the last acquisition in air defense system on December 17, 2018 granting Georgia the management and control system in NATO.
Speaking about Germany, he noted that on November 27, 2018 Georgia and Germany signed cooperation agreement: “For years we side by side with Germany contribute in SNGP and Germany is our key financial contributor. It concerns DIBS, as well as JTEC. Germany has significantly assisted us in acquisition of vehicles”.
The Minister outlined positive cooperation within the Black Sea region and spoke about cooperation with Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Baltic states and Scandinavia: “In December, 2018 US military unit for the first time held the trainings in Georgia, which gives us basis to believe in strategic context and in terms of more NATO, that US and NATO member states’ military units on rotation basis have been trained in Georgia. It is important for our strategic cooperation”.
He spoke about budget allocations to equipment and trainings of the army. “The budget is directed to morale in the army”. If 2/3 of the budget was considered for social and personal expenditures, reforms increased this amount with 20% to armament and morale.
“Today, budget management is the reasonable distribution and approximation with NATO standards. Georgia meets all the standards by NATO in financial terms and spends 2% of GDP for defense”.
He spoke about the inter-agency coordination: “Wide civic engagement and high inter-agency coordination condition total defense quality”.
He emphasized logistic provision in army, trainings and military education, as well as the novelties in the special operations.
He touched upon the National Guard and underlined high academic degree of the Defense Academy. Speaking about priorities, he named development of air defense and spoke about modernization of the helicopters: “It will allow us not only to implement the military tasks but to enact it upon crisis”.
He named military police and cyber-security as the priorities and spoke about care of the military and civilian personnel. He also overviewed the challenges: “Challenges remain and we are far from being ideal but we do our best to fulfill the strategic tasks – NATO and EU integration. We are unprecedentedly recognized in all the directions”.
He answered the questions.
According to the Chair of the Defense Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili, the ruling party and the opposition shall be consolidated. “Despite you are the opposition and we – Majority, we shall at maximal extent strive for the national interests as the Defense Ministry today is the locomotive of the country to NATO. The Military reserve service cannot endure without civil defense under the total defense principle”.
He echoed the conscription and also thanked the defense and military personnel for their service. “The reforms are very impressive and the progress enhances Georgia in internal and foreign policy terms”, - the Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Sofo Kiladze noted.
The Chair of the Environmental Committee, Kakha Kuchava thanked Defense Ministry for their contribution. “When we deal with the natural disaster, the Georgian soldiers sacrifice their lives along with the firemen, rangers and rescuers to extinguish the disaster destroying our common treasures. I remember the fire in Borjomi Forest when Georgian soldiers were fighting at the front line. During various natural disasters and slides, every time Georgia needs them, Georgian soldiers sacrifice their lives”.
According to the Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili, defense is one of the successes of the ruling party and all the reforms in 2017-2018 meet NATO standards.
He spoke about the reserve: “We do not speak about the programs and projects such is “Our Army”, we do not speak about public awareness or development of defense capacity, which is very deplorable”.
The Vice Speaker Giorgi Volski spoke about August war 2008 stating that Russia started the war: “Of course, it was Russia to start the war but the part and the order of the air attack on Tskhinvali was in interests of Russia, so it was the part of its plan to broadcast these facts worldwide”.
The Chair of the Georgian Dream-Greens, Giorgi Gachechiladze echoed the statement by the opposition: “How we can blind ourselves when withdrawn military bases are now back in Georgia and we encounter the flow of IDPs and repressed people requiring restoration of justice. The opposition still states that we shall forget it and start form the blank page. It is the state crime and the Prosecutor’s Office shall re-investigate it”.
He recalled the PACE Resolution of August 7, 2008 speaking about unwarned bombing of Tskinvali by Georgian military forces. He stated that the preceding Government backed this record forged by Russia.
The Patriots MP Irma Inashvili criticized the Minister: “When we have 22% of our territories occupied, the main objective of the country shall envisage restoration of territorial integrity but I have heard nothing in your speech about it”.
The new Georgia-NATO-Russia format shall be established: “We shall be active and wise to prevent new war by Russia. We shall be ready for peace and undertake peacekeeping policy”.
The National Movement MP Salome Samadashvili spoke about necessity of the army reform: “We need the system ensuring every Georgian citizen to feel obliged to serve. It requires the real reform and establishment of the system allowing people be trained for defense and become one of the privates of the country”.
Giga Bokeria emphasized reduced conscription: “Military service is the special honor and devotion. People sacrifice their lives and I bow to each and every of them. But when it comes to become coercive, it brings the backlash. The best solution is to establish the professional army”.
“Sport is the important component for defense capacity and hence, it shall be the top priority for the state to establish healthy lifestyle”, - Shota Khabareli noted.
The challenge is that 30% of the conscripts are recognized defective.
Irakli Abesadze criticized the activity of the Ministry and introduced the legal initiative of the European Georgia. “Various military officers and persons with various ranks receive the minor compensations, though if the compensation is appointed under 65, it is issued with 80% and above 65 – with 100%. I offer, despite this age qualification, issue every compensation in the amount of 100% and annually it constitutes 8 ml GEL”.
He also initiated untaxed minimum for military veterans to be increased from 3000 GEL to 6000. “We have much to do to promote military service and to associate it with defense and patriotism”.
According to Koba Kobaladze, it’s not only military men that shall participate in security of the country. “Every state and public sectors shall be engaged and only in this case we can speak about the total defense, which in tis turn implies strong civil defense component. Total defense is the task for the whole country – authorities and the citizens to be prepared for defense during the peace”.
He emphasized the budget planning: “The budget shall not be adjusted to the needs but the society shall formulate the price for peace and security, which shall be followed with due distribution of resources”.
Irakli Beraia gave the positive assessment to the report: “We heard the comprehensive information about institutional and operative activity of the Ministry and defense forces based on assessment of the threats and due response thereto”.
According to the Majority Leader Archil Talakvadze, recognition of Georgia as one of the safest countries in the region is the merit of Georgian army and defense system. When we encounter illegal occupation of territories by Russia, defense system acquires the paramount importance.
“We expect the army reform and want the army to be modern and attract the youth to allow them obtaining education, skills, patriotism and morale”.
The Minister thanked the Majority and the Government for supporting the reforms: “We will adhere to progress and alongside you will do our best to ensure defense capacity and security of the country”.
He expressed commitment to cooperate with the Defense Committee and invited MPs to at place study the military bases, their professionalism and equipment.
MPs voted for Giorgi Sharabidze and Natia Ioseliani to one vacant position in CEC and elected G. Sharabidze with 78 votes against 12.