April 30, 2013
Current Georgian army much larger than in August 2008 – South Ossetian President
TSKHINVAL: Solid protection of South Ossetia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains the most important sphere of the country’s foreign policy, South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov said on Tuesday while delivering his first statement to the people and parliament since he took office.
The president said that diplomatic efforts alone were not enough to protect the country because regardless of the change in authority, Georgia did not give up its territorial claims against South Ossetia.
“According to the available information, the current Georgian army exceeds considerably by any definition the one our opponents had in August 2008. The recent joint drills at the base in Vaziani show the continuing militarization of the neighboring country. And this means that we should keep our powder dry,” Tibilov said.
At the same time, the South Ossetian president said that the country was under double protection – on the one hand, the Russian base and their forces deployed in South Ossetia and units of border control from Russia’s Federal Security Service, and on the other hand the South Ossetian army.
“I can assure the country’s residents that the forces protecting us are equipped with the latest weapons and means necessary to protect our country. We do not keep secret that in accordance with the agreements signed with Russia, Russia is a guarantor of South Ossetian people’s security and integrity of its borders,” Tibilov said.
The South Ossetian president said that the previously made decision to decrease the number of its forces was the gravest mistake. “This caused negative strategic as well as social consequences. So I thought that my main task as commander-in-chief was to correct the mistake. And I can say today that we have succeeded. As of now, the number of forces of South Ossetian Defense Ministry remains unchanged,” he said.
Tibilov said that the efforts to equip servicemen technically, train them and protect socially would be continued.