( http://www.civil.ge ) - The Georgian authorities have unveiled a package of benefits for army officers in an attempt to attract qualified professionals to military service.
Speaking at the Senaki military base in western Georgia, Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili said on February 22 that benefits will include state scholarships for students willing to continue their careers in the country's armed forces, a one-time financial allowance for those who have already graduated university, and free dwelling space after completing contracted military service.
In addition, the Act on Special Benefits for Army Officers will offer officers access to a long-term, low interest rate loan from the Bank of Georgia, Kezerashvili said. A relevant agreement was signed between Kezerashvili and Lado Gurgenidze, Bank of Georgia's Chief Executive Officer, on February 22.
President Saakashvili, who was also at the Senaki military base, said that the Act on Special Benefits for Army Officers is "an unprecedented document for the post-Soviet space."
"We want to accomplish the task that we launched years ago. At that time we said army officer should be a special, elite profession in Georgia ," Saakashvili said.
He also said that special attention will be paid to pilots of Georgia 's air force.
"We plan to increase their salaries up to the level equal to that of the President [GEL 4000 - about USD 2 300 per month] and the Parliamentary Chairperson [GEL 3 800 - about USD 2 200 per month]," Saakashvili said.
He also said that all four brigades of the country's land forces will move to a contract-based system.
In his speech Saakashvili emphasized that Georgia wants peace as the country looks towards economic development and prosperity.