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Human Rights Center Requests Cut In Military Spending and Stop Militarist Rhetoric

12.04.2012

The Human Rights Center responds to the Global Day of Action on Military Spending – April 12 and reminds everybody that with the increased military spending Georgia will neither resolve its conflicts nor defeats huge aggressor state Russia.

The Human Rights Center is convinced that conflict resolution is possible only by peaceful methods and in order to avoid aggressive Russian policy we should develop democratic institutions in the country and to gain support of international community.

April 12 is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The date was originally proposed by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) with the aim of promoting a common awareness of the problems occasioned by military expenses, suggesting that instead such monies should be used to promote human development.

The Human Rights Center (HRIDC) represents the International Peace Bureau (IPB) in Georgia.  The IPB contrasts the high levels of military spending (estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in 2010 as being US $1.531 billions at worldwide level) against, for instance, the failure to fulfill the pledges of the Millennium Development Goals.

Research on the causes of violent conflicts shows a myriad of factors, but does not indicate that building bigger armies is the key to keeping a county safe from warfare. In fact, funds spent on weapons may drain resources from social, political, and economic development that may address root causes of conflict. These negative effects include not just the direct ones of money and resources being spent on weapons systems instead of being used for human development but also the associated costs of negative health consequences of research, development, testing and even the safe decommissioning of such weapons, especially nuclear, biological and chemical ones. As is obvious, the greater the military expenditure, the less there is left to spend on other aspects, both at communal but also at individual level, such as building and maintaining infrastructure, education and health.

The Human Rights Center is concerned by recent militarist statements of the President of Georgia. The situation gets particularly alarmed by our memories about President Saakashvili’s statements before the armed conflict with Russia in August of 2008 that ended with devastating results for our country.

On April 11, Mikheil Saakashvili visited the enterprise Delta subordinated to the Defense Ministry. During his conversation with enterprise workers, Saakashvili said: “having its local unit for self-defense and train volunteer reserve troops will serve as the firmest guarantee of peace.”

“The state took over the this and other factories under its control and it turned out that [it is possible] to produce grenade-launchers, automatic [firearms], mortar launchers and also anti-tank weapons – no one was giving us anti-tank weapons, we were begging everyone before 2008 for anti-tank weapons, by the way its market is relatively more open [for Georgia] now, but now we no longer need to buy them [anti-tank arms]; we have produced our own, which costs us twice cheaper than buying it abroad; I am sure that if we work well we will make air defense system too,” Saakashvili said and added “From next year we will have similar [drone], but capable to carry arms… and it will be much more efficient then old Russian [ground] attack aircraft.”

Saakashvili also recalled August 2008 during his speech in the Delta Factory.You saw the factory being bombed. The country was declared to be dead. They thought the president was already dead and deserved to be hung by one part of his body… We all have gathered here to see our Lazika and our Didgoris, our bombers, surveillance drones. I doubt our enemy is dreaming nightmares and it is better for them to be nipped and waken up.”

This rhetoric of President Saakashvili reminds us tragic experience of four years ago, experience which taught nothing to President and his government. Instead of mobilizing state expenses on social projects and spending it in the spheres of health, education and economics, money allocated from the central budget of Defense Ministry increased from 2.600.000 GEL in 2001 to 1.545.225.000 in 2008. Human Rights Center’s special report “explosive billion” explains this in detail. In November of 2011 Georgian Parliament heard and adopted the amendment to state budget in an expedited way which increased the financing of Defense Ministry from 660 million GEL to 704.6 million. Except for financing from central budget, the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs receive rather good amount of money from the budgets of local governments. This money supposedly will be spent on preparation of voluntary reserve.

When people are living in poverty, the “assistance” allocated to the Defense Ministry from the budgets of City Councils of municipalities is impudence and has nothing to do with the protection of peace, patriotism or reasonability in general.

President Saakashvili touched the issue of voluntary reserve service and noted:

“We have started establishing a reserve system anew. We have received a phenomenal result. It irritates our enemy and its Georgian agents, so called politicians very much. In each village where the Defense Ministry has entered, all adult men enrolled in reserve forces. It is an astonishing result.

In summer we will already have 70,000 retrained, volunteer reserve troops throughout Georgia. Next year, we will have 150,000.

It means that each village will have its unit for self-defense and it is the firmest guarantee of peace, because Nazi Germany refused to enter into Switzerland, because Switzerland was the only European country, which had a reserve system.”

Human Rights Center expresses concern that President Saakashvili by recalling the pasts of Finland and Switzerland unstoppably tries to incite militarist attitudes in the country and intensify the armament. Human Rights Center shares the alarm of part of opposition and civil sector that the government might try to use voluntary reserve to disrupt demonstrations. The recent legislative amendments raise this concern. . According to them, the representatives of MIA and Defense Ministry will also be called to voluntary reserve service. It is not understandable why the representatives of Defense Ministry should go to voluntary service when they already have an obligation to protect his country?!

Human Rights Center calls on President of Georgia, members of government and Parliament to cut in the expenses of armament, to spend more time on peaceful diplomacy and not to allow inciting different conflicts in the country.

Human Rights Center addresses civil society and every peace loving person to express protest in peaceful form against the militarist actions of government, to oppose war and any initiative which includes danger of confrontation.

Human Rights Center

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