Does Georgia need military draft?
Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria said that the ministry examines the issue of the military draft, yet no decision had been adopted so far.
"This question is being discussed. You will be the first to know about the final decision," he told reporters.
The former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli has signed a protocol abolishing compulsory recruitment in Georgian army, but the document was signed without the consent of the first persons of the country, which caused their dissatisfaction.
A member of the ‘Expert Club of Georgia’ Vakhtang Maisaya speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that there were no statements from the Defense Minister about the renewal of the military draft, although he did not quite agree with the order of his predecessor. "Therefore, he decided to discuss this issue with experts, specialists, representatives of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff, and only after that to announce his decision," the expert explained.
At the same time, the expert pointed out that the draft will begin as early as late August. "It is time for the new Defense Minister to make the final decision," Maisaya said.
He also pointed to political circumstances. Thus, according to the expert, Izoria and Khidasheli are ardent political opponents. "In addition, the new defense minister will pursue a policy of Kvirikashvili's government," the political expert noted.
Speaking about the attitude of the people to the idea of the abolition of the draft, Maisaya stressed that the Georgian army consists of only 5% of the population, so this issue does not cause any euphoria among the citizens. "Every year there are only about 2 thousand new recruits in the Georgian army. In addition, on the contrary, the socially vulnerable sectors of the population are interested in the military service. Families know that their children will receive temporary shelter, clothing, some money. In addition, the military service is not so hard these days. Therefore the issue of recruitment does not affect the public opinion, but rather lies in a political sphere," he concluded.
Georgian political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze, in turn, said that the issue of scrapping of the military draft was primarily linked to the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country.
"There is a theory that the former defense minister Tina Khidasheli has put forward a proposal to abolish the compulsory military service in order to attract additional votes during the elections. The fact that the issue of recruitment was to be discussed in 2017, but Khidasheli raised it in 2016, before the elections supports this assumption," the expert noted.
At the same time he expressed an opinion that the majority of Georgian citizens are still in favor of retaining the compulsory military service. "Perhaps, this issue is treated as a tradition. But many people realize that the contract army requires a lot of money, so the issue of the draft can wait. Basically, the desire to abandon the compulsory service is more linked to the Western aspirations, than to the social needs of the population," Ramaz Sakvarelidze stated.