In an interview with the Georgian daily Rezonansi (Resonance), published on July 11, Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili accused some officials in the National Security Council of masterminding “political intrigues” against him. The Defense Minister also spoke about the current challenges in the Georgian army and his point of view regarding the conflict in South Ossetia.
Irakli Okruashvili said, while commenting on a recent war of words between him and the Chairman of the Tbilisi-based Abkhaz government-in-exile Irakli Alasania, that this disagreement was the result of intrigue, which is being masterminded against him by the officials at the National Security Council.
The disagreement between Alasania and Okruashvili involved the latter’s decision to cancel the "Monadire" (hunter) military unit, based in the Kodori gorge - the only part of breakaway Abkhazia controlled by the central authorities in Tbilisi. Irakli Alasania criticized the Defense Minister’s this decision to abolish the Monadire unit.
“There are absolutely different problems. The problems are caused by those intrigues which still comes from certain representatives of the government… Those persons, whom I have sacked [from the Defense Ministry] find shelter in the National Security Council. I mean Vakhtang Kapanadze [ex-Chief of Staff of the Georgian Army and now military aide to President Saakashvili] and Paata Gaprindashvili [ex-Deputy Defense Minister]. Alasania appeared to be on that team, together with these persons. These very same persons told Alasania what to say,” Okruashvili said.
Okruashvili said that Monadire, which, according to him, was engaged in criminal activities, will never be restored again. “As a representative of the government, I can say that anti-criminal operations should be carried out in the Kodori gorge in order to clear the gorge from those bandits who have found shelter there,” the Defense Minister said.
In the interview Irakli Okruashvili also said that corruption remains one of the biggest problems in the army. “It does not matter how much salary an official who is in charge of logistics has, he has the mentality that he must steal. That is why we often carry out staff changes, mainly on the lower levels.”
He also said, while speaking about these problems, that “in most of the cases, the situation in Georgia is managed by individuals rather that by the system itself.”
Okruashvili also criticized his opponents for casting doubts about the necessity of increasing the number of military hardware. “I can not understand the logic of [my] opponents. We have two uncontrolled armies – in Abkhazia and in South Ossetia; we have some 200 tanks and infantry vehicles from another state [meaning Russia],” the Defense Minister said.
Okruashvili said, while speaking about the South Ossetian conflict, that this breakaway region has no opportunities for development if it does not re-join Georgia. “From the military point of view, they [authorities of South Ossetia] will never be able to confront the Georgian armed forces,” he said.
He also said that smuggling, which persists via South Ossetia, hits Georgia “in large scales.” “No one should have the illusion that smuggling has ceased there,” Okruashvili added.