Although some may want it, and indeed have called for it, President Saakashvili said on October 25 that neutrality was not an option for Georgia.
“Georgia signed an agreement on its neutrality in 1920 with Bolshevik Russia and after six months Georgia was occupied,” Saakashvili said at a graduation ceremony for 123 officers.
“We signed this agreement," Saakashvili continued, "because Georgian politicians at that time thought that Europe would not help us and they also thought that it would placate those who wanted to conquer Georgia.”
“So, our firm response to their two demands - that Georgia should not have weapons and an army and that Georgia should be neutral - is that we will have modern, not large, but well-equipped armed forces and we will be committed to the principles of democracy and good-neighborliness. We will not commit to anything that would hinder us or our friends from defending Georgia’s independence and sovereignty.”
Senior Russian officials and diplomats, as well as Russia’s Foreign Ministry, indicated several times this year that Moscow wanted to see Georgia as “a sovereign, neutral and friendly country.”
Russia’s calls for Georgian neutrality collide with Tbilisi’s NATO ambitions. Georgian authorities have repeatedly said that the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration is the top foreign policy priority and it can not be traded off.
President Saakashvili also said on October 25 that Georgia was building “a new society, a modern state, but based on its ancient traditions.” The armed forces, he said, were “an integral part of this society.”
“We are transforming our armed forces, ensuring they meet modern standards with state-of-the-art military hardware, ranging from armored vehicles to aircraft. This is expensive, but we are sparing no efforts to have a western-style army,” Saakashvili said.