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Boosting Defense Capabilities a Top Priority for Georgia in 2005

The tension that marks Tbilisi's interactions with Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- as well as with Russia, the main backer of the renegade regions -- shows no signs of abating in the near future. On December 1, for example, Georgia accused South Ossetian forces of violating a November demilitarization accord by holding military maneuvers. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. South Ossetian leaders insisted that the maneuvers never took place. At the same time, Georgian officials are closely monitoring events in Abkhazia, where rival factions are battling for power. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

In addition, President Mikheil Saakashvili has warned that Russia is likely to try to exert increasing pressure Georgia in the coming months. In a November 30 television interview, Saakashvili said the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine is encouraging Russia to become more aggressive toward Georgia. "The frenzied bacchanalia that exists today [in the Russian media], for example, over Ukraine is mainly targeted at us [Georgia]," Saakashvili said. "They [Russians] drove these people [Ukrainians] mad with their crude attempts to foist a different political will on them. However, even today, [Moscow's] main target is Georgia."

The accompanying photos show that Georgia's efforts to upgrade military preparedness extend to the country's youth. Last summer, the Georgian military sponsored a summer camp for 30 children between the ages of 12-18 – many of them orphans. Attendees received basic military training and instructions on how to survive in extreme conditions. Instructors at the camp, located a short distance from Tbilisi, were commandos in the Georgian military.

Boosting Defense Capabilities a Top Priority for Georgia in 2005

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