If Irakly Alasania, deputy prime minister/defense minister-designate, has his way, the Georgian Armed Forces will be downsized but made more mobile and battleworthy, and more deeply integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures.
“We need a very small but highly mobile army that will be able to stand up to new threats” such as terrorism and extremism, said Alasania, leader of the Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Georgia’s new cabinet is to be confirmed on Sunday, when the new parliament meets for the first time since the October 1 election, won by the Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, which has secured 83 out of 150 seats in parliament.
The Georgian military currently has over 30,000 personnel on active duty but it will be considerably downsized, Alasania said without specifying by how much.
The military will also need greater interoperability with Georgia’s Western partners to ensure deeper integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, he said.
The Defense Ministry will be made more transparent, and civilian and parliamentary oversight of the defense, security and law enforcement agencies will be intensified, Alasania said.
“We are not going to have offensive armed forces” although one-third of the country’s territory is occupied, he said, referring to the August 2008 war with Russia over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A greater emphasis is to be placed on defense, but Georgia needs to learn its lesson and understand why it lost the war, Alasania said.
“We are unable to change this reality through military intervention” but will seek a solution through diplomacy and negotiation.
“I’m sure that this issue will be eventually solved because Russia has signed a peace agreement worked out with European mediation, and it should be observed,” the future defense minister said.
Georgia’s new government will seek to strengthen bilateral ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said.
“In this context dialogue and an improvement of ties with the Russian Federation are paramount.”
This dialogue could be mediated by Germany as an EU leader and “a country that has always had an excellent relationship both with Russia and with Georgia,” Alasania said.
“Germany is best placed to help restart this political dialog.”