Georgia's president Speaks of Army, Ties with Russia

( - President Saakashvili said on December 25 that Georgia needs to create a large team of reserve forces and that the Georgian army needs highly-qualified officers.

Saakashvili, who was speaking at a meeting with students from Tbilisi State University, said that for this reason the government will launch the recruitment of 1 000 or 1 500 university graduates into the army, reports Trend.

We need highly-qualified officers to modernize our army; we need new intellectuals, preferably those who speak English and other foreign languages, Saakashvili said.

He also said that the government is thinking of allocating 100 000 square meters of living space for these recruits in Tbilisi and in other towns of Georgia, plus offering a GEL 600-700 salary per month. Those willing to apply will have to serve a four-year term.

Saakashvili also said that he has signed a law on reserve forces envisaging compulsory 18-day training for every male between the ages of 27 and 40. A person can avoid compulsory service in the reserve troops through spending 180 or 200 hours working in alternative service, according to the draft law. In case of evasion, a person will be fined GEL 1000. If the evasion is repeated a second time the person will be jailed for one year.

We will teach you to handle arms and we will teach you endurance. And conditions [in the training camps] will be very good, Saakashvili told students.

He said that Georgia needs unity in order to survive under foreign pressure, and he spoke about the Finnish experience and said that Finland was able to repel Soviet aggression [in the 1939-40 war] when this small nation stood side-by-side united.

We will do our utmost to never again become part of an empire. Today is a historic day, as the last Russian soldier has left Tbilisi, Saakashvili said, referring to the closure of the Russian troops headquarters in Tbilisi.

He said that the pullout occurred in a civilized manner and I am grateful for this.

The President said that the process of Russian troops' withdrawal will be completed when the last Russian soldier leaves the Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflict zones.

Saakashvili also said that Russia today is not a successor of the Soviet horror, and we should manage to build ties with Russia.

He noted that Georgia's intentions are totally peaceful, but warned that if someone wants to stir tensions under the pretext of protecting ethnic minorities, and in reality [is acting] for imperialistic reasons, everyone should know that we will stand against them united, each citizen of Georgia, ethnic Georgian, ethnic Ossetian, ethnic Armenian, ethnic Abkhazian.

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