Speeches & Statements

The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili congratulated the Georgian population with New Year


2008 was a very difficult year for Georgia and for the whole world.

During this year, not only our country, but the whole world got wrapped up in a dramatic political and economic process.

The world has faced absolutely new political reality, when the largest country violated the world political order through the most aggressive means; crushed under its feet the international law and for the first time after the World War II attempted to redraw Europe's political borders through use of force.

The process began, which jeopardizes national interests of many democratic countries and for some of them even physical existence.

On the other hand the planet was hit with severe economic disaster.

Economic fall has never been universal and on such a wide scale.

At this time, there is not a single state in the world that is not experiencing a heavy economic recession. Many of them are under the conditions of collapsing. Leading companies and economic institutions of the world are going bankrupt; hundreds of people are losing jobs and national currencies are depreciating.

Budget resources of many countries' are almost completely exhausted; state is not able to give salaries to workers; businesses are losing their profitability.

The real prognosis of when this trouble might end does not exist--when the world might stop the economic descending and start ascending.

Aside from this, 2008 turned into a year when for the first time after the end of cold war, the opposition was renewed not only between the states, but also among the world ideologies.

The force, which has openly confronted these values established by the civilized mankind, is in the leadership of our neighboring country - a former superpower.

This force has declared that the world should be divided into empires and spheres of their influence; the people should be ruled under the conditions of dictatorship; that small states have no right for free choice. The directing force of politics should be lies and fear; the free will should not exist and the deciding should be up to the power; we should all stop thinking about the future and return to the past, where there is no independence, the free will, or a perspective of developing further.

The battle between the ideologies is not new to the world. The axis of this battle went from one state to another during different times and epochs. Regrettably, in 2008 Georgia appeared at the center of the conflict.

Georgia has become the first target of imperialism and ideology of the past, because our country is a symbol of free choice and democratic reforms and an unprecedented example of success of civilized vision; because we cannot make a choice in favor of tyranny.

Our country went through a very tough aggression in 2008. Tens of thousands of civilians were forced out of their homes as a result of inhuman ethnic cleansing and 166 Georgian soldiers, 16 policemen and 220 civilians had been killed.

Because of ethnicity, they annihilated villages, which before the start of aggression were controlled by the Georgian government, where we built numerous schools and hospitals, built roads and within the last few years did many useful deeds.

Georgia was attacked by 80,000-strong army, thousands of armored vehicles and 200 warplanes from seven different directions.

A total aggression, which was well-planned in advance, was carried out with an eventual goal to capture Tbilisi and to install puppet government.

Despite this, the year 2008, showed us, the rest of the world and to our enemies, that Georgians are unbreakable and proud nation, it is impossible to force us to our knees, we have an army that does not fear even the most powerful opponent even in the most unequal battle, our warriors are ready to sacrifice and until they fall on the battle field they will make the enemy pay hundred fold for the encroachment of the motherland.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude towards our patriot soldiers. Without their selflessness, the flag of independent Georgia would not be flying over Tbilisi.

This last year showed us that our people are determined and brave. The entire world was watching the courage of our society as they came out against aggression during the protest meetings. Then, when Tbilisi was being bombed, many people of the world would have run, and no body could have blamed them.

This last year showed us that in the most critical moment Georgians can stand together and show everyone our strength through our unity.

This last year showed the world the truth about the existing conflicts in Georgia. It revealed the real bases of these conflicts; and removed the peacemaker mask from the aggressor.

The year 2008 also showed us that Georgia is no longer alone; that the entire democratic world stands by Georgia; that we have strong and faithful friends, and those who decide to dismember Georgia will be destined for international isolation.

As a result of all this, we endured the aggression of an empire; our country is again civilized and faithful to the man-made values. Our country still independently determines its future and development.

Despite many efforts of our adversary, today Georgia is closer to NATO membership, than it was before the launch of Russian intervention. The entire North Atlantic Alliance is declaring loudly, that Georgia will become the NATO member; it was impossible to even dream about it previously.

In next few days Georgia would sign a Charter on strategic alliance with the United States.

A new stage is beginning for Georgia's international relations by signing of this agreement.

Georgia has never before been the world's strongest state's equal strategic ally. This agreement, of course, won't neutralize all the short-term threats; but in a long-term perspective it will turn Georgia into the state of different quality.

With this Charter we are actually moving from the epoch of the Georgievsk Treaty.

The war really was not our choice; even some of our friends thought that Georgia should have showed patience in the face of the empire's intervention and should not have even moved its hand for the protection of its independence. I do not want to engage in polemics with anyone, but I will tell you, that I, as the President of Georgia, simply had no right to act like this. Georgia's entire history is struggle for freedom and independence; this struggle has always been unequal and sometimes hopeless, but we have never given up our freedom and dignity and for that very same reason we managed to maintain our statehood and national identity and our faith.

If we are proud of anything from our past, if we love and respect the deeds of our ancestors; this is not a compromise, but a selfless battle for the motherland and for the protection of our freedom.

We did not give in this time, or at any other time. Every conqueror and emperor always knew that Georgia was a country of unbreakable people. They know this today, and will know this in the future.

Our struggle will continue unless the last occupant leaves the Georgia's holy soil.

2008 turned out to be the year of large economic cataclysms. The unprecedented scale of the world economic crisis hit Georgian economy. It stopped the speed of the economic growth that Georgia had within the last few years and that was desired by the entire world.

The investments were hindered significantly. Almost every large industry is experiencing problems, since their product prices considerably fell on the world market.

Although temporarily, but jobs are anyway being lost and people are in hardship.

Like in rest of the world, in Georgia too we are facing a sharp economic recession, economic slowdown, but unlike many other states, we are managing to protect Georgia from economic crisis. The Georgian economy has not entered into the phase, which is called full-scale economic crisis... We have undertaken all the necessary measures to prevent this economic slowdown to grow into full-scale economic crisis.

At the end of the year, with the existing conditions, despite the problems, we are maintaining stable bank and fiscal systems; price increases are being controlled and annually they do not go over 6%; exchange rate of Lari is stable, and the budget system is working without fail.

Not that we are late giving out salaries, we are even increasing them (for example in the case of the teachers). Pensions are given out in a timely manner, and this did not stop during the war. We are increasing the social protection programs. Instead of increasing the taxes, we are decreasing them. We have record high state reserves.

Energy system is working well. We have a contract that guarantees a long-term receipt of gas.

The infrastructure that was damaged during the war is completely restored and is in order. The works for further developing infrastructure are not being hindered.

All the victims are settled. More than 5000 houses were built for them. We are continuing to secure housing programs for the rest of the refugees that were affected during the conflict.

In order to protect our economy from the crisis, we collaborated two very important economic packets.

First- economy stimulating packet, which consists of 2 billion, two hundred million Lari and takes into account infrastructural projects and construction investments, so that Georgian economy can maintain positive dynamics, so we can save the old and create new job positions.

Second-social protection packet, Parliament received a budget and this packet consists of 1 billion six hundred million Lari. This takes into account increasing the aid for those that are under the poverty level and increasing some salaries such as those of the teachers.

The new government is working 24 hour regime. Within the last few months, we took the right steps for the economic recession in our country not to turn into a full scale economic crisis.

We have an orderly plan for maintaining and protecting our economy.

As far as the global economic crisis is on, neither I nor any other member of the government have a task more important than to help our economy withstand this storm. I, as the President of this country, am responsible before you that we will be able to protect Georgia from the global economic crisis... I, on behalf of the entire government, and myself promise you that Georgia will overcome this economic hardship and we will return back to the previous levels of economic growth.

2008 was a test for young Georgian democracy with two early elections - parliamentary and presidential - and local elections held in Adjara.

Today the Georgian democracy is stronger, than it was a year ago; today level of cooperation between the opposition and the authorities is higher than it was a year ago. We will continue to further strengthen our democracy.

Unfortunately, Russian aggression and the world economic crisis changed many of our plans, many of our missions were postponed and new provocations appeared. We will stay on the course of development, we will not forget any of our promises we gave you, we will complete every job that we began, and we will together flourish our country.

I am now addressing you from Kutaisi, and from here I would like to say Happy New Year. Today, Kutaisi is the symbol, demonstrating that no matter how big of the difficulties we might have to overcome, we will not stop building, and we will not turn down the development of our country and people.

After so many years of destruction, just like we managed to restore and renew the beautiful center of Kutaisi, we will together manage to restore and renew entire Georgia.

I would like to wish you peace and unity, endurance and success.

I would like to wish happiness to our families, building and development to our cities and villages.

Let the year 2008 take all the misfortune with it.

Let the year 2009 be the year to overcome the difficulties and the year for our country and our families to move ahead.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Let the God be the protector of us and our country.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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