Levan Izoria, recently appointed defense minister, says the ministry examines his predecessor’s decision about abolishing conscription (ipn)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Compulsory military service remains a hot topic after resignation of Tina Khidasheli, who actively lobbied a shift toward voluntary service and managed to partly abolish the system during her tenure as a minister of defense.

Levan Izoria, recently appointed minister, told journalists on Monday that ministry examines the issue, yet no decision had been adopted so far.

The government has a strategy, which is part of a four-year action plan, and it soon will be published, and it foresees plans about a reserve army, Izoria says.

Earlier former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, who is a prominent member of the Republican Party, which recently split from the ruling Georgian Dream, expressed hope the new leadership of the ministry wouldn’t revise the protocol she has issued about abolishing compulsory recruitment in army.

She again specified that her decision concerned only Ministry of Defense. However, other bodies, like State Security Service, are still able to use compulsory recruitment.

Khidasheli explained that there were many reasons why she decided to change the system.

“The key reason is that it’s not correct to force 18-19 year olds for slavery labor,” she said adding that it was a fundamental decision.

Meanwhile Vakhtang Kapanadze, Head of the Joint Staff of Georgia, said he would try to assure the new leadership of the Ministry not to revise Khidasheli decision.

“We spoke about this issue with the former minister [Tina Khidasheli]. We decided to find time and dedicate a particular meeting to this issue, in order to assure the new minister in our firm decision,” he remarked. However, he doesn’t rule out reversing compulsory military service abolishment.

Kapanadze believes that in the light of existing challenges and resources available, professional army is by far more efficient.

Ending the draft was one of the Georgian Dream coalition’s election promises in 2012. However, when Tina Khidasheli, the first female defense minister, took first steps to abolishing the compulsory recruitment system, she was criticized by Prime Minister and some core members of the GD.