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Okruashvili Speaks of ‘Revolutionary’ Defense Reforms
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Apr.'06 / 14:52

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili described Georgia’s reforms in the army as “revolutionary” but added complete reform in the defense is a long-term process.

Okruashvili made remarks while addressing the NATO North Atlantic Council in Brussels on April 13. His speech was published by the daily 24 Saati on April 20. Along with Okruashvili, Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Issues Giorgi Baramidze visited Brussels to discuss implementation of commitments undertaken by Georgia under the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO.

Okruashvili said that huge efforts were made by the Georgian authorities to implement these commitments, especially those envisaged by the IPAP’s second chapter, which deals with defense, security and military issues.

He said that there were three major priorities in a course of reforms: NATO integration and interoperability; improvement of management and increase of combat capabilities.

Okruashvili said that “very important process” of conducting Strategic Defence Review (SDR) is about to end. Presentation of preliminary findings of SDR is planned for May 2 in Tbilisi, he said.

But he also noted that dynamics of security issues in Georgia and in the region needs a prompt response and reaction, which also should be reflected in the SDR.

“We plan to review and assess threats this autumn,” Okruashvili added.

He also said that a significant progress has been reached in fields of personnel management, logistics, military education and defense planning.

Okruashvili said that after visit of the NATO assessment team in Georgia this March a joint interagency commission of the Defense Ministry and Border Guard Department (which is under the Interior Ministry’s subordination) was set up in charge of development proposals on a joint use of infrastructure.

In his speech Okruashvili also noted that a controversial Army Development Fund does not exist any more.

He also said that the MoD plans to increase transparency in the armed forces and a special “PR strategy” is under development right now.

Okruashvili stressed importance of Georgia’s contribution to international peace operations and said that over 1000 Georgian servicemen, which is 8% of the country’s armed forces, are deployed in Iraq and Kosovo. He said that Georgia plans to increase its presence in international peacekeeping missions in the near future.

Okruashvili said that Georgia, which hails NATO’s open-door policy, has successfully implemented its commitments and called on the NATO member states for a strong and firm political support.

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