Speeches & Statements

Georgian president praises winegrowers' resolve, calls for unity amidst embargo

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has praised the tireless efforts of winegrowers and called for national unity in a speech in the wine-producing region of Kakheti, where this year's grape harvest is currently under way. His remarks come during the second grape harvest since Russia imposed a ban on imports of Georgian wines and other products in early 2006 and at a time when opposition forces are seeking to capitalize on discontent among winegrowers. In an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he spoke of a "modern Shah Abbas", an Iranian ruler who conquered much of eastern Georgia in the 17th century. Saakashvili also appeared to make a comparison between Imedi TV co-owner and founder Badri Patarkatsishvili and a group of people who conspired against the Georgian king in the 18th century. The following is the text of Saakashvili's speech:

My dear people, I want to greet you here on this most beautiful day, in newly renovated Telavi, one of the most beloved cities by all Georgians, in Kakheti. I have just come from a vineyard. I want to tell you: if you want all of our hearts to light up and if you want to completely spite the enemy, we need to bring him [the enemy] straight to Dato Burnadze's vineyard in Khodasheni. I want to invite Georgia's great supporter, President Putin, to Dato Burnadze's vineyard. He is welcome; let him come and see and try the wine. I want to greet and bring all of Russia's Sanitary Inspectorate, all Russian generals who are so concerned about Georgia, I want to bring all the initiators of the embargo, so that they can see once and for all and hear the voice of Kakheti and hear the voice of Georgia resounding from here in Kakheti. Georgia has not been broken; Georgia will not fall to its knees. It is impossible to defeat Georgia. Kakheti proved this last year and will do so again this year to spite the enemy and to make us all rejoice.

I want to tell you, my dear people, that they thought up all manner of tricks, but one thing is absolutely clear: despite the embargoes, this year the whole grape harvest in Kakheti - although it may not be sold at the prices we wanted and we may not gain as much revenues as we wanted from it - but the whole harvest will be put to use. This is because the people here are a different kind of people. Some of these people take money to chop down their vines on television - but this is only 0.001 per cent and the rest labour and sweat day and night so that they can sell their grapes, gain revenues, receive money, strengthen their country and stand their families up on their feet.

The people here in Kakheti are a different kind of people. I want to tell you, my dear people, that there does not exist any force that can defeat Georgia. We are standing here before a monument to the great Erekle II [east Georgian king, 1720-98]. Erekle II had no equal when it came to swinging a sword. Erekle II never lost a war, no matter how numerous the enemy was. Do you know when Georgia was defeated? When Agha Mohammad Khan [Iranian shah] arrived at Georgia's gate, Erekle was going from village to village and begging all able-bodied men to band together to save Georgia while the vile Markozashvili's Darbazi [name of group which conspired against Erekle II; Saakashvili refers to the group hereafter as the name of one of its members], traitors to Georgia, went around saying that Erekle was no good as king, that they did not want a king, that they did not want a lord, that Georgia would be defeated no matter what, that Georgia was done for, and that everyone should save themselves. I want to ask you, the tens of thousands of people gathered here: which path do you prefer - Erekle's heroic path or the path of the vile Markozashvili. Today the Markozashvilis have television stations, today the Markozashvilis have money, today the Markozashvilis have many various means at their disposal, but the Markozashvilis do not have the main thing: they no longer have the support of the Georgian people, they no longer have the-[changes tack]

I want to tell you, my dear people, that today Georgia is stronger than it has ever been - not even during the time of [11th-12th-century Georgian King] Davit Aghmashenebeli, not during the time of [12th-13th century Georgian monarch] Queen Tamar and not during the time of Erekle was Georgia capable of deploying an army like the one Georgia is capable of deploying today. We have hundreds of thousands of reservists, we have the best professionally trained army, we have a strong police force, we have a strong state apparatus, and the main thing is that our economy is growing, we are developing and we are standing on our feet.

Look at how our cities will be restored, look at how we are building Telavi, look how we have built Sighnaghi, look how Gurjaani will be built, look at how Sagarejo will be built, look at how Kutaisi will be built, look at how Zugdidi will be built, look at how Batumi is being built to spite the enemy and to show everyone that Georgia-[changes tack] And I want to tell you that these cities are being renovated not only to make us happy. Enough tourists will come to Georgia that we will be able to drink all of the wine ourselves, together with them. We will enjoy ourselves, we will receive revenues ourselves and we will manage to stand on our feet. I want to address the people of Kakheti, the backbone of Georgia: the modern Shah Abbas I - and you know who I am talking about - the modern Shah Abbas struck his main blow against you, the wine embargo was aimed at defeating you. Georgia's ill-wisher, the modern Shah Abbas, knows well that the path to defeating Georgia leads through Kakheti and that if Kakheti is broken, if Kakheti falls to its knees, then Georgia is done for.

He knows full well that there have always been Markozashvilis in Tbilisi. However, he could also see full well that it is impossible to break Kakheti. I would like to tell you that today, there is but an arm's reach separating this moment and Georgia's unification, separating us and Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. We must not allow anyone to cut this arm in the middle. We must not allow anyone to sever this arm. The path that we are to move along to return to Tskhinvali and Sukhumi does not run simply to the west of Tbilisi, but first and foremost to the east of Tbilisi [where Kakheti is situated], from Tbilisi via Kakheti, [Kakheti towns of] Telavi, Gurjaani, Sagarejo, Sighnaghi, and Qvareli - the home town of great Ilia [Chavchavadze, prominent 19th-century writer and public figure]. This is the path along which we will return to Sukhumi - via Telavi, Qvareli, Lagodekhi, and Dedoplistsqaro. We will definitely reach the place where all of us are to go together.

Look at them here! These are the people. Those who are speaking about fear today are those who are most afraid. Only cowards always speak about fear. However, everyone should see full well that Georgia is a country of dignity, and dignity is not exchanged for any money, and dignity is not sold because of any hardships. I would like to tell you all: those who imposed the wine embargo - Kakhetians, I want to address you - they wanted... [changes tack] We are being told: cede Sukhumi and Tskhinvali and your wine will return to the Russian market. Do you agree to cede Sukhumi and Tskhinvali? Do you agree to cede Georgia? [People cry out: "No!"] This is your answer to Moscow and to some people in Tbilisi. Georgia is not sold. Georgia is not afraid. Georgia will never fall to its knees. I want this message to reach the whole of Georgia from here.

Last year, we showed the whole world-[changes tack] I will never forget our gathering in Telavi. We were still weak then. Many of us were afraid and many had suspicions. The whole of Kakheti told contemporary Shah Abbas last year: you will not be able to intimidate us. You will not be able to bring us to our knees. No-one is afraid of you. We will become stronger. Since last year, we have built up Sighnaghi, and Telavi has been built since last year. Our army has grown sharply since last year. Our economy has grown since last year, and what is most important, we have begun trusting in our own forces and in our future. All this started here in Telavi and will continue in Telavi too.

This is Georgia. This is Georgia, and not the people who never come out of their television studios. This is the new Georgia. This is our future generation that cannot be subdued. Their blood is all of [18th-century Georgian King] Erekle, the [noblemen] Choloqashvilis, the [Georgian royal dynasty] Bagrationis, the [17th-century Georgian military leader Giorgi] Saakadzes, [11th-12th-century clergyman and public figure] Giorgi Chqondideli, and Davit Aghmashenebeli. This is a special Georgia, a special country with a special present and completely different and special united future.

God protect us. Long live Georgia. Long live Kakheti. Long live our unity.

Translated by BBC Monitoring

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

Send link to the email
Captcha* Verification Code
2013 (7)
2012 (12)
2011 (12)
2010 (9)
2009 (11)
2008 (12)
2007 (11)
2006 (9)
2005 (11)
2004 (3)