To tell young people to become “false priests” to escape from army is “tragedy” - PM

“The army is the highest ranking institution along with the church. These two main pillars of our country. [...] Our main task is to create a strong reserve [of the armed forces]”, the PM noted. Photo via Government Administration, 13 Mar 2023 - 00:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Sunday called Girchi opposition party an “anti-national movement” and said it was a disaster that they have been telling young individuals to become “false priests” in order to escape from the army.

Garibashvili told Imedi TV that Georgian people were proud to say “We serve Georgia, our country”, stressing Girchi had misled “more than 10,000” young people with their “anti-national campaign” against the army. He said despite being a small nation, Georgia had a “very rich military traditions” and its people have been “warriors”.

 Work on the Defence Code started during my tenure as Defence Minister. And there are also key topics I would like to explain to our public. Today, the army is the highest-ranking institution alongside the Church. These are the two main pillars of our country. The Church, the police, and the army—these are the three main institutions. Our key task is to prepare a strong reserve. We are a small nation. We have rich military traditions. We are a strong nation of fighters, and we do not want malignant practices to take root in the country, such as the one carried out by Girchi. This was one of the motivations, to overcome the Girchi challenge. Imagine this antinational and—I can say it boldly—antichristian phenomenon, an anti-Georgian phenomenon and anti-Georgian movement, because when you tell someone, the healthiest and finest representative of society, a young man or woman that they must become fake clerics, members of some inflatable church—I apologise for using this word—to avoid the army and serving their country, it is a disaster, a tragedy. The most gratifying words we are proud of are ‘We are serving Georgia, our country.’ More than 10,000 young people have been led astray. They are told to become clerics to avoid serving in the army. This is a disaster.' the PM noted.

According to the Prime Minister, in response to this challenge created by Girchi, the Government would offer students an “alternative way” to serve in the army and explained the terms for the completion of the service for students, noting the Defence Ministry would be offering them annual month-long trainings in the summer for the four years.

Thus, the case is closed, solved. We had consultations with the Church, and the relevant amendment will be made to the law, and this issue will be regulated; everyone will serve only in the defence institution. This was the main achievement we agreed on. They will no longer be just guards, but will also be trained. It will be a disciplined, healthy, patriotic generation,” the PM emphasised. 

He said that compulsory military service would only be in the Defence Ministry, where recruits would be offered modern military training.