Georgia: Defense Minister Claims NATO Plans under Threat
Georgia’s NATO-membership plans have come under attack from within the the country's government itself, embattled Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania claimed on November 4, as a crisis over investigations into his ministry deepens within the ruling coalition.
Alasania, rated as Georgia’s favorite political figure, declared in a televised briefing that prosecutors’ sudden spate of inquiries into the defense ministry’s work is politically motivated. After the arrest of five former and current ministry officials last week as part of a probe into a tender, prosecutors today filed criminal charges against three army medical officers in a food-poisoning case.
“This is an attack on Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic choice. This is an attack on the agency with an outstanding record in achieving our foreign policy goals,” Alasania asserted. “I will not be intimidated by the prosecutors or by mud-slinging by certain media groups,” he added.
He challenged the ruling Georgian Dream coalition to convene to discuss in which direction the country is headed. Next to him stood State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili.
Other members of the coalition also sounded the alarm. Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili threw his support behind Alasania and expressed doubts over why prosecutors decided to launch multiple investigations at the same time. Usupashvili called on the prosecutor’s office to “withstand any possible pressure” in the defense ministry case.
Alasania and Usupashvili did not specify where the pressure might be coming from. But the parliamentary speaker conceded that there is something of a crisis within the ruling coalition.
Local media reports recently have speculated that both Alasania’s Free Democrats and Usupashvili’s Republican Party might end up leaving the Georgian Dream and striking out on their own, but neither party has confirmed the claims.