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USA Military Plans Restoration of Shiraki Airdrome

January 25, 2006

 USA Military Plans Restoration of Shiraki Airdrome

The situation in Dedoplistskaro is getting worse. Rumours about the restoration of the Shiraki Military airdrome by the Pentagon seem to hold true as the region’s inhabitants are offered to sell their lands. The population fears that the Shiraki airdrome might be used for an assault on Iran. This might not only endanger the region but the whole of the country as well.

Rumours about the possible restoration of the abandoned Shiraki military airdrome by the Americans that spread several months ago, terrified the inhabitants of Zemokedi, Kvemokedi and Arkhiloskalo. The local government refuted the rumours and managed to calm peoples’ concerns.

The situation took another turn last week when several unknown people began to survey the population about the possibilities of selling their houses and lands.

 “Old military utensils and explosives were left at the military airfield of Shiraki as a ‘gift’ from the departing Russians to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Since that the military base and airdrome, which was an important site in the Caucasus, lies abandoned. The government claims that the Pentagon was planning to build an airdrome in Svaneti and rejected the possibility of building it in Shiraki. However, several persons were surveying the inhabitants about the conditions of possible sale of their houses on the territory. Some inhabitants agreed but others refused to sell the houses and lands where their ancestors lived. The persons interested in buying the houses visited not only Zemokedi but also Kvemokedi and Arkhiloskalo”, - says Tamar Chokheli, the inhabitant of Zemokedi.

The intention to build an American military base in Shiraki became obvious when the territory of the old military airdrome was privatized.

“If we take into consideration the fact that the other airdromes are also built with American money, the supposition that America might use the base for an attack on Iran
can come true. In this case, the population will have to leave their homes as the old experience shows that bomb explosions might occur on the territory covering the whole village with smoke. Also, several houses were damaged and ruined in the past. The most important is that after the explosions the bombs left big holes in the cultivation grounds”, notes Giorgi Kobaidze.

We tried to connect with the head of the press service of the Ministry of Defence but unsuccessfully. Vazha Papunashvili, assistant of the Dedoplistskaro governor in the field of force structures confirms that the Shiraki former military airdrome is to be transformed. “As far as I know, only several buildings are sold. It is true Americans visited the base but it turned out being insufficient for them. No one will tell us about the future plans of America’s Defence Ministry, but it should be mentioned that the Russian bases did not influenced the inhabitants of the region in a negative way, the same can be said of the Americans. On the contrary it should be convenient and profitable for the region’s inhabitants”, explains Vazha Papunashvili.

People doubt that the survey done by the strangers was to check their reaction about the issue. The USA Embassy Press Service denies their interests in the restoration of the old military airdrome on the territory of Shiraki.
Gela Mtivlishvili from Kakheti