Georgian Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said on May 9 that some figures within the Georgian Dream ruling coalition “perhaps do not fully realize” threats Georgia is facing.
Alasania, who is founder of Free Democrats party which is GD ruling coalition member, made the remarks in response to complaints, which were voiced by some of the senior officials and GD coalition members, who suggested that Alasania should have at first consulted with the President and the government before calling publicly for deploying NATO “defensive assets” in Georgia.
Alasania said in Washington on April 30 that in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, NATO allies should deploy “defensive assets” in Georgia. Speaking during a panel discussion at the Washington-based think-tank Atlantic Council, Alasania said that air defense and anti-armor capabilities are “something we need to put in Georgia and Russians will understand that you are serious.”
Vice speaker of Parliament, GD MP Manana Kobakhidze, said on May 8 that it was “perhaps a little bit hasty to make such a statement at a high-profile forum, because something that is being discussed as an idea perhaps should not be declared publicly.”
“Although there could have been a pre-condition during that particular [panel] discussion for making such a statement… I still think that we should be more careful while making such statements about [the issue] that is still being discussed as an idea,” she told Maestro TV on May 8.
President Margvelashvili said on May 9 that such issues should at first be discussed at the National Security Council (NSC) and comments about it should be made afterwards based on those discussions.
Margvelashvili’s national security advisor, Irine Imerlishvili, who is secretary of the NSC, said on May 9 that although she agrees with what Alasania has said, she thinks that the Defense Minister should have agreed it with the President, who is the commander-in-chief, before speaking publicly about it. “It should also be raised at the National Security Council session,” Imerlishvili said.
No session of the NSC, which is chaired by the President, has been held since Margvelashvili was elected as the President; it has actually been replaced by the security and crisis management council, which was established late last year and which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
Appeared alongside with PM Garibashvili and other government members, as well as senior GD lawmakers, at Imedi TV’s political talk show late on May 9, Alasania said that it was “absolutely logical” of him to call for the NATO defensive assets in Georgia while discussing how the West should respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
“As a defense minister of course I ask for weaponry,” Alasania said, adding that it should be done “gradually” in accordance to country’s budgetary resources. “Of course I can’t ask for violins for our jazz bands. Strengthening of our defense capabilities is my job.”
“Perhaps even some of our team members too do not fully realize the threat Eastern Europe, including Georgia, is facing,” Alasania added.
He also said: “Our task will be to explain as much as possible both in the Parliament and in the government what does it mean for the defense of our country weaponry required for protection of skies over our country.”