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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 878

The Real Reason Behind the Military Buildup of Ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia and Its Invasion of Russian South Ossetia’ ...

New York, 09 August (TMPress International): – The Real Reason Behind the Military Buildup of Ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia and Its Invasion of Russian South Ossetia ... the Ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia and its invasion over the last two days of the Russian population of South Ossetia - the second half of North Ossetia inside the Russian Federation looks to be linked to Georgia's breathtaking increases in its defense spending over the last few years, and it looks set to beat all records this year ... in 2008 alone so far they are over 1 Billion USD of GDP - the fourth largest in Eurasia.

In late June of 2006, the Georgian government increased the defense ministry’s budget of 513 million laris (315 million US dollars) by 442 million laris (260 million dollars). And the money, arms and military training is not from a 'new growing economy' its from the US taxpayer, the Pentagon and NATO ... along with the USAID ... and yes other NATO aspirant ... Ukraine.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, Georgia currently has the highest average growth rate of military spending in the world. Some independent experts are worried that the spending is not fully accounted for, while others say that it could undermine the peace processes with the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and now we know why?

The Georgian government insists that the increased spending is absolutely vital to allow the country to improve its defense capabilities, fulfill its NATO commitments and strengthen social support for its military personnel. Why - analyst, Paata Zakareishvili, is more doubtful, saying he was concerned money was being spent on defense instead of the Georgia’s urgent social needs.

'In a country where a lot of social problems have built up, where there is a need to fight poverty on a national scale, it is worrying that we have this kind of military budget,' he said. 'It’s obvious that the state is more worried about its army than about social programs or education.' The government’s decision encountered almost no resistance in parliament, with opposition deputies only demanding more details on how the massively increased budget - now accounting for over 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and equivalent to spending on social and healthcare programs - would be spent.

Irakly Sesiashvili, who heads a non-governmental organization Justice and Freedom, disputed the Georgian Governments's defense of military spending ... 'saying that the defense ministry had not accounted for large sums in its new budget. He cited a report by the country’s audit chamber that uncovered major irregularities in the ministry’s finances in 2005-2006 under former minister Irakly Okruashvili. Irakly Aladashvili, military commentator with the Kviris Palitra weekly newspaper, has also investigated suspicious discrepancies in the prices paid for military equipment.

Kezerashvili told IWPR in 2006 that his ministry was about to adopt a new automated management system that would ensure transparency of expenditure, as required by its commitments under its Individual Partnership Action Plan for NATO. There is the answer - Georgia has already presented in Brussels a 'strategic defense review' that envisages a long-term budget for the ministry. The ministry has also published details of the increased military expenditure on its website. The report lists sums assigned for all major items, making only one of them secret - 'purchases of weapons, military equipment and materials.' Defense officials say the secrecy is a precautionary measure. 'This is to prevent Russia from influencing our potential arms supplier partners and undermining our plans,' Nika Rurua, deputy chairman of the parliament’s national security and defense committee, explained to IWPR.

Despite reassurances that the increased military spending is designed to professionalize the army and is not aimed at the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the territories themselves are not convinced. 'People in South Ossetia feel that Georgians contradict themselves in what they say, and what they do,' Bela Valieva, a resident of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, told IWPR in 2006. 'On the one hand they speak about peaceful resolution to conflicts, and on the other they increase their military budget all the time.'

Boris Chochiev, then deputy prime minister of the de facto government of South Ossetia and the main negotiator with Tbilisi government went further, blaming western countries for the situation. He told IWPR that his government constantly raised the issue of Tbilisi’s military build-up with the international community but did not get a 'sensible answer.' 'We are astonished at the position of countries that are calling on us to disarm while at the same time they are arming the aggressor, Georgia,' he said.

'It's not Georgia that is increasing its budget. The money is being given them by the West.' What does that mean - the US, Pentagon and NATO via funds situated for Iraq by President Bush and the Neo-Con dream team?

Zakareishvili is worried that the increased spending is undermining trust. 'We are basically sending a clear message - that the military is important for us in resolving the conflicts,' he said. What conflicts ... Russian South Ossetia and Russian Abkhazia ... that's where?

- From Koba Liklikadze … was a military analyst with Radio Liberty in Tbilisi. Veriko Tevzadze, a journalist with 24 Hours newspaper in Tbilisi and Irina Kelekhsayeva, an independent journalist in South Ossetia, contributed to this article. Redistributed by TMPress International Newswire and additional content from TMPI. - Entry and Ending bylines by John Osborne, Sr. Editor, TMPress International Newswire.

- Asian Tribune -

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