Final Report of the Special Commission Investigating the August War
· Identifies Russia as Solely Responsible for Planning and Starting the War
· Supports President's Decision to Launch Military Operation
· Highlights Shortcomings in Georgian Military & Government
· Offers Sweeping Recommendations
TBILISI, Dec. 18 – The special commission established by the Parliament of Georgia to investigate the August war between Georgia and Russia issued its final report this evening.
The Commission concluded that the President was justified in ordering a counter attack on rebel-held positions in South Ossetia after Russia began its invasion and was attacking civilians. The commission also found serious deficiencies in several areas of government, most notably in security planning, intelligence, and defense. It has issued a series of 12 recommendations, which are detailed below.
The Commission's principal finding is that the sole responsibility for the August war rests with the Russian Federation. The investigation was presented with clear and credible evidence that Russia planned and provoked the war. By contrast, the Commission found no clear or credible evidence that the war was provoked by Georgia, or that Georgia had planned to attack.
While the Commission identified numerous shortcomings in the actions of the Georgian military and government, it also saw evidence that both performed well on numerous levels. The Commission also found that the information provided by the Government regarding the war, including the number of dead and wounded, was largely accurate.
The work of the Commission, chaired by opposition MP Paata Davitai, is unprecedented and confirms Georgia's progress in establishing enduring democratic institutions. For the first time in Georgia or anywhere in the region, a president testified before an independent parliamentary inquiry and is being held to account for official decisions. The Commission conducted over 55 hours of hearings, with testimony from over 22 high officials, including all key ministers and the heads of the Intelligence Service and National Security Council (a full list is in the Annex). All sessions were open to the public and broadcast live, with full transcripts posted on the Parliament's website (www.parliament.ge).
The Commission's final report offers a comprehensive analysis of the preparedness and performance of Georgia's military, intelligence capabilities, security planning, and other government agencies; assesses the provocations by Russia and its proxies that led to the escalation of tensions and ultimately to Russia's invasion; and evaluates legal issues surrounding the war.
Among the report's key findings are:
· The Russian invasion of Georgia was well organized and planned in detail long before the war.
· Georgia did not provoke the Russian invasion, and there was no evidence that Georgia planned an attack on the occupied territories.
· Despite reliable intelligence reports, the Georgian Government did not expect—and was not prepared for—the large-invasion that began on August 7 when Russian forces entered Georgia en masse through the Roki tunnel.
· The National Security Council (NSC) neither predicted nor prepared for military action of the scale that occurred.
· Once the Russian military action began, coordination among Georgian government agencies was insufficient and did not follow established emergency protocols.
· The military's communications system, despite being well equipped, experienced serious shortcomings and thus hampered military operations.
· Due to poor management of the nation's reserve system, a critical part of the military, reserve forces could not be mobilized.
· The country's strategic defense planning and its national security concept proved poorly developed; major gaps also were found in its air defense capabilities.
· The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not have protocols in place for actions its embassies should take in a crisis, and certain ambassadors acted in ways deserving censure.
· The country's civil defense system is inadequate, with the exception of the ministry of health, labor and social protection, which performed well.
As a result of these findings, and to address the shortcomings revealed during its hearings, the Commission has made the following recommendations:
1. The NSC should revise the national security concept to adequately reflect the risks facing the country;
2. The NSC should establish an early warning system to notify relevant government officials and agencies of impending risks;
3. The NSC and the Government should establish a crisis management center and protocol;
4. The NSC, Government, and individual ministries each should elaborate crisis communication protocols that are coherent and compatible;
5. The NSC and the Government should revise the civil defense concept and ensure that adequate plans are in place in case of a crisis;
6. The systems to prepare and mobilize military reserves should be thoroughly reviewed and revised;
7. The Ministry of Defense should undertake a complete technical and operational review of its communication systems, and make all necessary adjustments;
8. The Government of Georgia should pursue all necessary measures to address shortcomings in its air defense capabilities; the Trust Group of the Parliament of Georgia should be regularly apprised of relevant developments;
9. The MFA should establish an adequate crisis protocol for its diplomatic missions;
10. The MFA should review its policies for the recruitment and professional development of its personnel;
11. Parliament should establish permanent committees to monitor the implementation of these recommendations;
12. The Government, in taking account of this report, should assess necessary changes to senior positions in the military and Government.
Annex: Officials Testifying Before the Parliament's War Commission
The Parliamentary commission that investigated the origins and conduct of the August war heard testimony from the following officials (in chronological order):
1. Gela Bezhuashvili (Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service);
2. Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili (Minister of Foreign Affairs);
3. Teimuraz Yakobashvili (State Minister on Issues of Reintegration);
4. Aleksandre Lomaia (Secretary of the National Security Council);
5. Mamuka Kurashvili (Commander of Peacekeeping Forces);
6. Zaza Gogava (Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces);
7. David Tkeshelashvili (State Minister on Issues of Regional Management);
8. Zaza Gorozia (State Representative in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region);
9. Lado Vardzelashvili (State Representative in Shida Kartli region);
10. Aleksandre Kvitashvili (Minister of Labor, Health and Social Protection);
11. Lado Gurgenidze (former Prime Minister);
12. Giorgi Ugulava (Mayor of Tbilisi);
13. Dimitri Sanakoev (Head of the Interim Administration of South Ossetia);
14. Malkhaz Akishbaia (Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Abkhazia);
15. Ekaterine Sharashidze (Minister of Economic Development);
16. David Bakradze (Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia);
17. Erosi Kitsmarishvili (former Georgian ambassador to Russia);
18. Giga Bokeria (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs);
19. Ivane Merabishvili (Minister of Internal Affairs);
20. Grigol Vashadze (former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs);
21. David Kezerashvili (Minister of Defense);
22. Mikheil Saakashvili (President of Georgia).
Press Release of the Parliament of Georgia