Speeches & Statements

The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili’s annual speech presented in the Parliament of Georgia

Good evening ladies and gentlemen!

The Majority and representatives of the opposition, members of government, dear guests and journalists!

Today I address you as the President of the country, which has a very difficult period.

I was elected by my nation, which has huge problems to solve. I have received the mandate of a president and this great responsibility from my people - I have very specific tasks to perform - to create better living conditions for my people, because many still suffer in our country.

We had to create many jobs for our people, because many Georgians are unemployed and many still fight with poverty.

We had to improve the living conditions, because many of our families suffer greatly.

I have received a very specific task with my mandate, to create Georgia without poverty.

Today my speech should have been my report on how we were implementing our program of Georgia without Poverty;

I wanted to speak about increased pensions and agriculture, about vintage, we have started this year giving direct subsidiaries to winemakers and money as well.

About new agricultural enterprises and new economic projects, and we promised to create thousands of jobs in the nearest future.

But instead of that, now I am standing here as the president whose country was attacked by a huge aggressor, who tried to totally destroy Georgia;

I am standing here as the President of the country, which has faced more massive, challenges that it, had had before.

At the same time I am the president of the nation that was not broken and which continues its struggle to achieve its goals;

Our problems are as big as brutal as the brutal attack undertaken by our enemy against Georgian statehood, to destroy love of our nation towards freedom.

We have been warning the world about this threat, we were warning them that Russians were preparing for this attack against our statehood.

The faster our economy developed, the more our country moved forward, the more this danger increased and this was very obvious.

I was saying this in each of my speech.

All of our diplomatic and political efforts were directed to avoid this threat.

Unfortunately the civilized world could not imagine by that time that something like this could happen in the 21 century.

We were warning everyone, that Russia played very dangerous games, that their leadership is overwhelmed by the idea of restoration of the empire, that Russia's strategic interest in Georgia couldn't be discussed as an alternative for Europe, regarding supplying it with energy resources. That Georgia could not make a choice between independence and Georgia must have warranties for safety and its borders couldn't ever be changed.

Historically it always was so and it is repeated now in the same way.

We did not have the right to make the same historic mistake. Our past is full of examples when Georgia was left alone facing big aggressors.

I did everything to create many friends for Georgia around the world.

During these five years all our diplomatic efforts were directed to make Georgia a member of the civilized society, to make sure that Georgia wouldn't be left alone in hard times.

Besides we have done everything to protect what is most important for people - to protect peace.

We were patient and did not follow the provocations during the years in order to protect peace, we saw how our citizens were humiliated, how they were terrorized.

We were building schools, kinder-gardens, cultural centers, resorts in the conflict zones, to create better perspectives for living and to overcome this process. We wanted to show that Georgia belongs to every ethnic group, to restore everything that was destroyed by aggression, by love.

We were conducting humanitarian interventions for peace.

We were trying to develop diplomacy between people, regardless how strong the resistance was.

We were working on different youth exchange programs.

We used to take kids from conflict zones to different resorts. Many of them saw the sea in Batumi and Kobulety for the first time, they went to the amusement park for the first time near Choloki bridge. We were treating people from conflict zones in our hospitals. We used to go to the location and do the surgeries there. Here is Mr. Pridon Todua, he knows how many humanitarian surgeries were made in Tskhinvali.

We were offering the separatists plans for the conflict regulation, these plans were supported by the whole world.

In order to have peace, we did not respond to our enemies with live-fire, even when they started to bomb our villages in the beginning of August. When they injured and killed our soldiers.

I ordered cease-fire unilaterally when the bilateral fire was taking place and you cannot imagine how hard it is to see how our enemy used this for a more massive attack.

We did everything to avoid war. We just did not do one thing - we did not surrender when the enemy crossed our borders and started the total invasion.

As the President of Georgia I want to state - we will never allow this to happen, never, before we are alive.

Enemy will not see our rear position.

People often ask - was it worth of resistance? There is a big difference between your forces. But Georgia has a different historic experience and instincts. No matter how big and strong our enemy is, they will always face our resistance and unimaginable devotion. They will always see the unforeseen love of our patriots towards their country and towards their own freedom.

I want to ask you to keep a minute of silence. Lets honor the memory of 182 heroes, our soldiers who were able to surprise the world with their devotion. I want to ask you to honor the memory of our 188 peaceful civilians.

They were buried with Georgian flags and for their remembrance the five cross Georgian flag will never stop flying over Georgia.

Our small and young Army faced unimaginable challenges from the enemy, which is one hundred times bigger then them, they fought like 300 Aragvians, like 9 Brother Kherkheulidzes.

Our Army fought with huge devotion, on the edge of human abilities.

In the most critical moment they stood to defend our capital and stated they would fight with the enemy in this last battle.

We will never forget the names of these heroes.

I want to bow our heads before every Georgian soldier. Our children will know the heroes not only from their books.

You know that we have a tradition of inviting our heroes to this hall and greeting them here.

I decided to break this tradition today, because the main hero of our life today is our nation, the society of our country.

I want all of us to stand up and greet our people. our brave and wise nation.

The nation that stood holding each other's hands when the country needed it most, when we needed to be united like never before.

I want to stress a very important role of our Church; Our Patriarch, his Holiness Ilia II, our Archbishops and other clergy, who took out our injured people from conflict zones, to take out dead bodies, to feed hungry people, and first of all to cheer them up - this is the heroism of historical importance. Archbishop Andria, who was in war the second time, saved hundreds of people and gave shelter to hundreds of IDPs - this is the heroism of historical importance.

I want to ask you to greet our church and its Patriarch!

Our people showed our strength.

They showed the example of patriotism, heroism, national firmness and devotion.

I, as the President that was elected by its nation, thank my people and promise my people that each and every day of my term in the office will be in your service; It will be dedicated to your service and I will try my best to be a president, who is worth of this nation, like they serve our country and are devoted to our country.

This war showed us one more thing. For the first time in our history, Georgia is not alone.

For the first time in our history the whole civilized society stood together as a whole to protect Georgia.

For the first time in our history the fortune, freedom and independence of our country matters for the rest of the world.

Each new day proves that Georgia has its own noble place in the Commonwealth of Nations.

This confirms that we have made the right choice in choosing our allies;

I want to welcome European Council, President Sarkozy, other European leaders, our Eastern friends, our friends from Baltic Countries and Ukrainian brothers. They stood together to defend and support Georgia.

I want to welcome NATO, which stood beside us; we understand that there is a long way towards NATO, but we clearly see this road and we will travel this road;

I want to welcome the United States and the whole American nation. We always stood beside the United States because we have common values and the United States stood beside us when we needed it most.

The support of Georgia comes from the hearts of the American people and it proves, that both party leaders, both presidential candidates openly express their readiness to stand beside our people and statehood.

When Russian aggression started the Presidency candidate Obama called me. Americans are very proud of being Americans. There are only two examples when US made identification with the other nations. First when President Kennedy said - "Ich bin ein Berliner!" - and now when the Presidency candidate McCain said - "Today we all are Georgians!"

Today it is not like this. Our country is not alone any more.

Georgia will not only utilize the international security, but must put its own share in its firmness.

Today we all are ready for the freedom of a free nation.

By protecting our security we will protect the energy security of Europe, to make sure that there is no blackmail policy anywhere in the world regarding small nations.

We are in the most decisive moment of our history right now.

We have very difficult tests to pass. This is a decisive battle for our freedom. This is a decisive battle for Georgia. We have a long way to go to the final victory. The enemy was not able to destroy our statehood, they were not able to make Georgians say no to freedom.

This is our success, but it still doesn't mean a victory.

Do not believe those who say that we have won; but do not either believe those who tell you that we have been defeated.

They can see examples of losing - they can see these examples in the recent history - in 1921 - when Georgia was united with the Soviet Union by force and was deprived of freedom.

In the beginning of 90ies - the enemy occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and forced us to accept their peacekeepers mandate.

Today Russia is not a winner. The victory of Russia would be the defeat of the Georgian democracy and taking a control over Caspian and Central Asian energy resources.

But there will be no defeat in the year of 2008.

2008 is the year of freedom, unity and national strength in Georgia.

In 2008 million and a half Georgians stand together in a chain to express their national protest (and not to celebrate the virtual victory, as some of the cynics noted).

In 2008 all the civilized world stand together to defend Georgia's security and territorial integrity.

In 2008 there is no place for the Kremlin imperialistic adventurism. No dictator will be able to redraw the political map of free and democratic Europe.

Their plan to restore Russian imperialism and its rebirth in Georgia, ended by burying Russian imperialism.

They cannot defeat such Georgia. But before reaching a final victory we must be diligent, we must stand firm, love freedom and each other.

Our country went through gigantic stress. Georgia went through aggression of enormous scales. It was a heavy, massive attack against our people and our major values, against our freedom.

Now when the threat still exists and when our enemy is still on our land, our aim is to take care of our victims and restore destroyed country. The mission of my government, each Georgian and me is to take care of those tens of thousands citizens, who became victims of this aggression, who were left without their homes, who were forced to leave their own territories where they lived, who lost their businesses and jobs.

I, as the president of Georgia, assume responsibility for everything that happened before the war and for everything that is needed for the country's reconstruction, for all what our people need after this war.

My government and me personally, do everything in fast tempo and will do everything, to help those who need it most.

We now need peace and stability; we did not want this war and will do everything to prevent it in future.

Our strength is in our unity and only by joint effort we will be able to reach success.

We are still evaluating the damage caused by the Russian aggression.

We have tens of thousands of families who have no housing, they need warm flats and big support. Many of them still live in very difficult conditions. Winter is close by and none of them must be left without shelter by this period of time.

Their houses must be restored, their flats need to be renovated.

The infrastructure of the country is damaged. We need to restore bridges and roads, ports and airports.

Schools, universities, kinder-gardens and hospitals need to be restored.

Those villages that underwent Russian aggression need our attention and restoration.

Every enterprise, which stopped functioning during the war, must start to work, to make everyone go back to their working places.

We need to restore services, commercial and state services completely.

We started the reconstruction process when the war was going on. I personally get familiarized with the working tempo and the tempo is very high in lots of places.

But we still have more to do. We do not have a minute to lose.

We have so much work ahead.

In the next 18 months we should be in better conditions.

We must restore each house and reconstruct each village.

A special government commission coordinates this process.

I requested that every minister, every ministry, the whole government get involved in this reconstruction process.

I requested the whole structuring of work be supervised by the parliament.

I think it is very important that this commission will actively coordinate with the Anti Crisis Council, which was formed together with the opposition.

We at least managed to find a common language with the opposition on the major issues - unity of the country and continuation of democratic reforms;

I welcome one part of opposition, which actively works to defend the interests of its country, and I want this cooperation to be continued during the whole reconstruction process and during the process of fight for freedom.

I find it necessary for opposition to have a chance to thoroughly supervise the process of reconstruction and the assistance of the victims.

And more, I think that it would be good if Anti Crisis Council is delegated with executive functions as well, for example - fair distribution of humanitarian assistance or in raising up civilian defense capability.

In respect of another, small part of the opposition, I want to say: do not forget that as never before Georgia needs our unity and our cooperation; I am as never before ready for cooperation;

I was, I am and I will be ready for cooperation.

The unity of course doesn't mean exclusion of diverse ideas or democratic debates.

On the contrary, the future firmness of our country will be proportional of democracy.

We have learned good lessons after this war. It showed us the dignity of our people. It showed us the strong sides of our statehood, but it also showed us our weaknesses.

Now it is everyone's debt to make right conclusions out of this practice. To strengthen what is right and make corrections.

We do not want this war. But because it was impossible to avoid it and the enemy could not reach their aim - to destroy our statehood, we need to use these lessons as an example in order to get stronger.

Of course there are questions that need to be answered; I support the parliamentary group and parliamentary debates on these matters that led to the war; we are interested in answering all the questions;

This is why I welcome the idea to create a group of rapporteurs in Parliament. This group will work on questions, and not a single question will be left without respond.

I hope that the representatives of the opposition will staff this parliamentary group mostly and it will work hastily, effectively and productively. It will hold hearings, will receive specific answers to specific questions, will get familiarized with every evidences and proving materials and will inform the society about their own conclusions.

The working process of this group will be important for our people and for our democracy.

The Georgian government not only avoids any question, but first of all is interested in answering all the questions;

Now our country is in the period of historic challenges, it is a victim of aggression and we need support of democratic society.

The President of Russia - better to say the two leaders of the country must answer questions, why have they driven out independent journalists, controlled every TV channel. They threaten people with further repressions. Many countries could say - in the period of war, less democracy and much control. We say - for Georgia, which is a country of developing democracy and democracy, freedom and progressive democratic future is most important.

Democracy defends our country and destroys our enemy.

The major promise I gave during the period of elections was to strengthen democracy and democratic institutes in Georgia.

We made very important democratic steps regarding opposition during this short period of time.

We have increased the number of opposition in parliamentary leadership.

We simplified the procedure of creation of oppositional fractions, to make sure every opposition political group could create its own parliamentary fraction.

We lowered the election barrier to 5%.

We managed to restore a broken dialogue with the opposition and started constructive work on some specific issues.

Hereby, I want to welcome the decision made by the National Movement, not to present candidates in those regions, where new elections need to be held. National Movement lost elections in these regions. Those opposition leaders, unfortunately refused to join the Parliament and National Movement gives these slots to opposition, in order not to weaken opposition wing.

I want to announce about the start of a new wave of the democracy today.

The purpose of these reforms is to have a stronger parliament, to create stronger mechanisms regarding control and supervision over governmental branches, to unchain media and give them more independence and to have a legitimate and independent Court.

In order to make the Parliament stronger and to obtain more control over executive government our new wave of democratic reforms envisages:

A constitutional amendment according to which the newly elected parliament will be able to pass a confidence vote in the new cabinet;

Increased funding for political parties - financing which was terminated for opposition parties after they have refused to enter the parliament. Basic financing will be increased for them and the special funds will be formed, which will finance political researches for the opposition parties and for the NGOs.

The representation of opposition in the trust group will be increased as well - we have already taken this obligation and it is necessary to fasten this process.

This way the opposition's ability to control will be enhanced over the Ministry of Defense and its expenditures, and over other aspects of defense capability.

And what's most important, we have to create a stronger parliament and more accountable government.

This is why new democratic wave envisages:

The proposal will also involve cutting the president's powers to dissolve Parliament and the details of this proposal will be worked out together with Parliament.

The basis of the development of our democratic society is inviolability of the private property, this was our pre-election promise and this is why the most important part of this package is legislative initiative, according to which it will be impossible to deprive the private property without decision made by the Court.

Main challenges for our democracy remain ahead - full impartiality of media sector and equal attainability for every opposition party. This is why a new democratic wave envisages:

To assign representatives of opposition in telecommunication regulating committee - to make sure that the opposition has a permanent control and that it participates in ongoing work of the regulating committee.

Debates should take place permanently on the public TV and we should create conditions for that;

And still - the backbone of the democracy, the most powerful guarantor of all is the Court.

We managed to clean the Court from bribers, simplify the Court procedures and increase the qualification level of judges.

But it is not enough, the Court system still has many deficiencies. Georgian people need a more independent and more impartial Court.

We need a new wave of judicial reform aimed at a more independent and free judicial system;

Our new Court reform envisages a new wave of reforms, these reforms are:

Choosing the representative of opposition in the Council of Justice.

Introduction of Jury Trial Institute - honorable and impartial representatives of the society must make decisions and consequently the decisions must be fair.

Judges will be appointed for life - that will create important warranties for Judges to feel safer and accordingly more independent and daring while making their own decisions.

Democratic reforms are a permanent process.

We have undertaken many democratic reforms recently, this enabled Georgia to have a dignified place in the democratic commonwealth.

Now this process must be hastened.

A hastened democratic process is a process leading to Euro-Atlantic integration and Georgia's victory.

More democracy is Georgia's respond to Russian aggression.

A faster development and progress are responds to the attempt of the regressive world for the revival of the empire of evil.

I welcome the political debates that were held on these issues in the parliament recently. I am ready to work with you on the new initiatives born in the result of this debates and consultations

and finally:

My, main program plan was a 50-month-program, the program, which envisages:

to increase the pensions to 100 USD;

the natural gasification of the whole Georgia;

creation of new jobs;

the extension of the cheap-credit-program to employ more people;

the rehabilitation of the water supply system in whole Georgia;

the strengthening of villages in Georgia;

the improvement of village education and health systems;

the assistance in agriculture.

Unfortunately Russian aggression made important changes in our plans. Our country regressed in many aspects and now we have unplanned obligations to fulfill.

Regardless of big economic damage, regardless of fact that many constructed enterprises got destroyed, we will find enough force in ourselves to survive and get stronger. This wont be an easy process, but I promise that our 50-month-program will be carried out anyway!

Every promise must be fulfilled! But I hope that our society will understand that some of the paragraphs will possibly not be fulfilled in planed timeframes. But the main timeframe will be remained - 50 months.

Now our main mission is the full stabilization of Georgian economy, finance and banking sectors. To make sure that people and businessman continue normal banking operations. To take credits and be able to have long-term investments. To return to their working places.

We need to work for this hard.

Our economy is under double hit right now - on the one hand this is a Russian aggression and its disastrous affect on the economic life and on the other hand the unimaginable world scale crisis.

Despite of these facts, our economy gets back to the normal rhythm. All financial institutes are mobilized. We are carrying out active economic diplomacy, after which Georgia gets important international assistance - US government issues one billion USD, today 750 million USD program was approved from the IMF, which will provide the stability in the monetary system. We will receive serious assistance from the EU, Ukraine, also from the East European states, from Turkey and donor organizations, such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the EBRD and others. We speak about several billions of dollars during next few years step-by-step. There is an International Conference planned in the nearest future, where the amount, directions and timeframes will be specified. We have already passed to the Parliament those changes that will take place in this years budget - 170 million GEL will be issued to overcome the damage caused by Russian aggression and on its reconstruction.

Besides we have intensive talks with Europe and the US on forming an agreement on preferential and free commerce.

You know that in respond to the Russian aggression and as a sign of solidarity Europe and the US took responsibilities to open the markets to the Georgian production free of taxation. This will be an important step for the development of the Georgian economy and creation of new jobs.

Our final aim is to transform Georgia into a successful European country and to resolve the conflicts in a peaceful way.

No one must have illusions that Georgia will get used to losing ay peace of its land, thus making it legal or giving it into possession to anyone in any other form.

Our country belongs to all ethnicities. I once was a specialist in the Ethnic Law and I understand the approach that big and small ethnic groups have and I express my solidarity with them.

For me Georgia belongs to the representatives of all ethnic groups who live here. It belongs to Ossetians and Abkhazs, thousands of Azerbaijaninas, who stood in the live chain together with us, for me Georgia belongs to the Commander of Special Forces from Akhalkalaki, who stopped the tanks at the entrance to Javakheti. Georgia belongs to the representatives of all ethnic and religious groups.

I stand before you as a president of a dignified and brave country, as a leader of the people of free will and greatest traditions, that was attacked by the most dangerous aggressor in the word today.

Despite it I am standing here because they were not able to defeat Georgia. We have all gathered here because the free spirit of our nation can not be broken. Georgia's heroic fight practically changed the world order.

We have a great fight ahead - the fight for freedom and reconstruction.

They couldn't kneel us down, we stand on our feet proudly!

We will necessarily gain our victory!

Its most important not to lose hope and to remember always that our strength is in our unity!

Long live to united, free, democratic Georgia!

God bless our motherland - god bless Georgia!

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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