MILITARY REFORMS AND STABILITY IN THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS
Joni Melikian, Expert at the Center for Caucasian Studies and Middle Eastern Affairs at the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University (Erevan, Armenia)
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, democratization and liberalization processes began in all the post-Soviet countries. These processes were mainly initiated from the outside, but they were also supported by the local power elites.
The Republic of Georgia, which plays one of the most important roles in the region as a political entity, stands out among the South Caucasian countries that are steering a course toward democratization and liberalization. The country has many advantageous prerequisites for this: its transit opportunities, which allow it to create alternative routes that bypass Russia for delivering energy resources and other commodities, as well as its rather contradictory domestic political situation, which could have a certain impact on neighboring countries. Due to its important geopolitical position, Georgia, like other states in the region, can act as a bridge and intermediary between the East and the West. The situation that developed in the region after the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 also launched certain dualistic processes. They will either help to restore peace and stability, or they could start an arms race and lead to a new and more violent war.
It must be noted that the events going on around Georgia have pushed its domestic issues into background and deprived them of their due attention.
Reform of the Georgian army, establishment of a national security system, and the democratization processes going on in the country are of particular interest.
1. Development of Georgia’s Military Capability (1991-2008)
Georgia is still very concerned about how its defeat in the war has affected its economy, domestic policy, and reform of the defense sphere.
Long before the 2008 events and Mikhail Saakashvili’s advent to power, the Georgian authorities had been exerting concerted efforts to develop the country’s military capability and raise the potential of the army and special services. In order to better understand the processes going on in the republic, let us take a look at how Georgia’s armed forces were established.
After the Soviet Union collapsed and Georgia acquired its independence, it began building up its armed forces. The Georgian army, as we know it today, began as the National Guard of Georgia created on 20 December, 1990. On 30 April, 1991, conscription to the National Guard began, and this date is now celebrated as Georgian Armed Forces Day.
The Georgian Ministry of Defense was established in 1992. In the spring of the same year, the 11th brigade (the first brigade of the first corps) was formed under it. At first, the armed formations were comprised of voluntary contingents. However, over time, particularly after the defeat in the war with Abkhazia and due to the increased integration of the National Guard into the Ministry of Defense structures, they became centralized and…………….