There will be no marching army parading down the Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi center, but “military component” will still be present on May 26 when Georgia marks its Independence Day, deputy PM and education minister Giorgi Margvelashvili said on April 26.
Margvelashvili chairs a government commission in charge of organizing events for the Independence Day celebrations.
“Troops will not be marching… but there will be a very beautiful military component, especially with the involvement of aviation… military equipment of course will also be involved,” he told journalists after a meeting of the government commission without elaborating details.
He said that celebration events would embrace the regions throughout the country and would not be concentrated only in the capital city.
PM Ivanishvili said on April 10 that he was skeptical about military parades; at the time no final decision was yet made about the issue.
“We will probably refrain from holding a military parade… My personal stance is that we are not the country to show military force… I do not think there is a need for Georgia in showing off military force,” Ivanishvili told journalists on April 10.
President Saakashvili, who is also the commander-in-chief, said in response that the government did not want holding of military parade because it did not want to see him reviewing the marching troops.
“I am ready to go to Afghanistan on that day [on May 26] and mark [the Independence Day] with our troops there. I am ready not to review the parade and let the defense minister, army chief of staff or other government members do it, but let the army march. This is of vital importance for the army; this is the army which saved Georgia in [war with Russia in August, 2008],” Saakashvili said in an interview with Rustavi 2 TV on April 16.
Last year the Independence Day was marked by a military parade held in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city; meanwhile in Tbilisi, Georgian-made products, among them armored vehicles manufactured in Georgia, were exhibited on the capital city’s main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue.
Tradition of marking the Independence Day with military parade was restored in 2004 after about eight-year pause. Since then parades were held on each Independence Day on May 26, but 2009 was an exception; at the time the authorities had to drop the plans of holding the parade amid opposition's protest rallies, which were ongoing at the time, as well as because of an incident, known as Mukhrovani mutiny, at the tank battalion outside Tbilisi in early May, 2009.