Speeches & Statements

Joint press conference by President Saakashvili and the Swedish Prime Minister

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili:


Georgia suffers great problems today; however, today's visit by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Gran Persson, to Georgia is a great honor for us.

At this time, I would like to mention that two years ago, the results of the presidential election went into effect and in this very building I took over the presidency.

This date has coincided with a very difficult time for Georgia. We are having an unprecedented energy crisis. We have been attacked. But by being organized, united and calm, the Georgian government has successfully passed this test.

I hope that Russia will intensively cooperate with us.

I would like to stress in particular the brotherly support of Azerbaijan.

As soon as Azerbaijan decided to supply Georgia with gas, Azerbaijan itself was cut off from part of its gas supply. However, despite having to reduce gas supply to its own consumers, it supported Georgia.

The Georgian people should never forget this. By means of this support we have been able to maintain our schedule of home gas delivery.

The Prime Minister of Sweden is an experienced world politician and the leader of a successful country.

We can learn a lot from studying Sweden in terms of economic education, establishing professional institutions and energy saving technologies.

We are eager for this most successful country to share with us its wisdom and experience.

The role of Sweden in the "Community of Democratic Choice", created by Georgia and Ukraine under the Borjomi Declaration, is very important.

The next meeting of this community will take place in Bucharest. We feel that the participation of Sweden in this community will be very important because it is addresses the stable unity of the Black Sea countries and the Baltic states.

Participation of Sweden in this community is of great importance because this country will give a different direction to the forum, which will bring Georgia ever closer to Europe.

Sweden is not a member of NATO. But for Georgia, integration into the North Atlantic alliance, along with integration into Europe, is the most important and efficient way towards the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

In the last year many more guests came to Georgia than ever before.

As soon as energy problems occurred, the whole world's mass media started talking about it. This is one of the main accomplishments of the Rose Revolution.

In this regard, the visit of the Prime Minister of Sweden to Georgia is very important and symbolic at the same time.

He fulfilled the promise he made during our meeting in Sweden, and paid a visit to Georgia.

Thank you very much.

Prime Minister of Sweden Goran Persson

Thank you Mr President, and let me start by giving my heartfelt congratulations to you on your two year anniversary as president, and congratulate you and your country for its promising development. There are a lot of tasks that have to be done, and you have started a process towards prosperity and democracy and we are following what you are doing around the world and we are ready to give you our firm support. I also want to see closer cooperation between our countries as partners. We have different developments, different levels of developments but, nevertheless, we can as partners act together in the democratic, political field as with the upcoming summit in Bucharest. We also seek support from you and other important political leaders for the reform of the UN. I just came from Ukraine where President Yushchenko discussed the UN reforms together with me because he belongs to my network of political leaders around the world who will give support for a reform of the multilateral system. It is also in my interest to have the same type of discussion with the president in Georgia. Of course we are giving support to investments in Georgia from Sweden. Development support is about economic resources, of course, but also knowledge. One thing that I know is that your prime minister is very interested in economic education and I will have an opportunity tomorrow to discuss this together with him and I can say that we are prepared from the Swedish side to support qualified economic education institutions in your country. We also want to share our experiences about how to save energy, how to have higher efficiency in the use of energy and that is from two perspectives: first, the energy will become more and more expensive. It appears that the production of oil has peaked and the demand for oil in the world, not least from China and India, will continue to grow rapidly. That only tells me one thing: price will go up sharply and, with the oil price, the price of gas will follow, no doubt. So, therefore, using energy more efficiently is necessary. That is one perspective. The other perspective is that we have climate change in the world. All scientists today are aware of the linkage between the burning of carbon, energy like oil and gas and climate change. There must be a new approach. So, domestically produced energy from the agriculture sector, from the forestry, hydro plants - we have a lot of experience and knowledge about how to do that and we are prepared to share this with Georgia. Of course we are also a member of the EU. I saw when I arrived today the European flags. It's a signal of Georgia's ambition for the future and I think this is a positive signal also for the EU to prepare the society, to change the legislation, to improve the judicial system and to go for democratic reforms, to meet the criteria set up in Copenhagen by the European Council - it is one step in the direction towards the future membership. It's not happening in the near future but Georgia, like Ukraine, has membership prospects in the future. So, I am looking forward to constructive, fruitful discussions with you, Mr President and I am also looking forward to your next visit to Sweden because I know that you will come back in the coming summer.

Thank you for receiving me. And thank you for giving me this opportunity to have discussions with you.


Swedish TV: I would like to ask you, Mr Saakashvili, how the gas crisis reflects on your relationship with Russia and in that context, do you feel, two years after the Rose Revolution, that you have been successful in consolidating a new kind of state and society here in Georgia?

Thanks for that question. First of all I think what is now going on about gas between Georgia and Russia does not only concern Georgia. I think it is extremely crucial for Europe because yesterday it was Ukraine, today it is Georgia, tomorrow it can be anyone else. What we have seen is two blasts in 350 km removed from each other in extremely suspicious circumstance and hopefully we will seek more Russian cooperation and responsible behavior on that subject. But the good news is that we are still alive and keep on, we are not dead. One year ago we would have been dead because disconnecting both electricity and gas in such weather conditions would be exactly the worse nightmare scenario one can imagine. For these years after the revolution we have been fixing electricity lines, we have been fixing our power generating capacity, we have been fixing our power line with Azerbaijan and other countries that basically helped us out now.

So, this is exactly the lesson two years after the revolution, and this country has become more successful. It is not only the growth rate, which was almost nine per cent last year and will be minimum ten per cent this year, but the direction. If you look at the polls more the 70 per cent of the Georgians say that we are on the right track. So, another indication for me was that after we had one or two hours energy outages people are very angry. People are very unhappy. Two years ago it was the best day of the winter if you had only two hours of electricity outage. That was how the government was performing. Now people get very nervous and that nervousness tells me a lot about where we are now and where we were then. These things cannot be denied. The economy is going further, we are investing 7 hundred million, maybe one billion dollars into infrastructural projects, we are constructing more roads this year than were constructed for decades in soviet times and after independence. We are fixing the energy system and we are moving forward. Now of course there's a long way to go and we are now in the situation where Baltic countries were, say, ten years ago. We are starting from scratch; however our advantage is that we learn from their mistakes and from their achievements. We have accumulated more experience and Europe is more willing to look at us like partners and this is very important. Georgia also wants to be an important contributor to European security and also energy security, because we are a major transit route from Central Asia and Caspian to the European destinations. That's why in March we are convening the energy ministers' conference here in Tbilisi from the EU neighboring countries as well as from major energy companies. We need to talk. It is not about Georgia, it is not about Ukraine, it is about everybody else. It's about the new energy situation for Europe and the world. Sweden is the first one to start to talk about it and not to talk only, but to start doing things about it; I mean you have done things that many other countries have thought would never be necessary. That is why we are so impressed and that is why your Prime Minister's visit is so important. So we are not only looking at Europe but Europe also needs to look at us, take a close look at us, because in the end we are interdependent and we cannot only need help from you but we can help you as well, we can contribute to you, because we need each other. This, I think, should be understood. From that point of view the second anniversary shows that we are very far advanced, however we are still not there. There's still some ways to go. Thank you.

Nino Gomarteli, public television: Welcome Mr Prime Minister. Have any joint economic cooperation projects been planned within the framework of your visit to Georgia? Is Sweden going to invest in Georgia?

First, about the investments. It is not up to the government to decide that, it is up to companies to do so, private companies. We want to have more economic cooperation between our countries. It's about agreements, protecting investments, it's about agreements regarding double taxation that are up to me to handle together with my counterpart in Georgia and we will do that. But if there will be investments it is not my task to decide, it is up to the market, more or less, and the companies. If there are good conditions in Georgia for business, if there are good projects, there are many good and big Swedish companies who want to come but you should demonstrate that you have the incentives and the means. I am extremely skeptical of politicians who decide what to invest and how to invest in other countries. It is up to the market. For me it is also necessary to say that we want to support the Georgian authorities when they are going to educate via universities a new group of junior economists. There we can supply you both economically and with good textbooks and we want to start such cooperation. And if we can share something from Swedish authorities regarding energy saving and energy efficiency we are also prepared to do so. But it's not we who shall take the initiative; we can offer partnership in these areas. It's Georgia who has to take the initiative, and I know the government is planning to do so.

Swedish radio: Question to the Prime Minister. You have visited another revolutionary country, Ukraine, and both Presidents have been to Sweden and now you are here. Do you think that this can have any effect on the relationship between Russia and Sweden? Would it be seen as oppositional that the president just said that Sweden is supporting us, or do you think it does not matter?

I would be extremely surprised if it was something that was regarded as negative thing in Russia. Independent countries, with democratically elected leaderships, have the right to communicate, to cooperate and to build partnership. That goes for Sweden and Georgia, Sweden and Ukraine and hopefully for Sweden and Russia.

Maka Gigauri, TV Company Mze: A question to the Prime Minister. President Saakashvili has talked about the existing energy crisis in Georgia. The Georgian government called it an act of sabotage. What do you think?

I have had information from the Georgian president about the blasts in a pipeline of gas and electricity grid and I also had discussion with my Ukrainian friend, President Yushchenko, about relations with Russia. Of course this is something we follow very closely and this is something that is a valuable contribution to the European debate about how we shall arrange the European supply of gas for the future. This is something that also has been reflected in the European debates in the last weeks and I am convinced that many European politicians will follow the developments in this region very carefully, not least regarding the supply of gas and energy. That is what I can say now because I only have information from my friend, the President of Georgia, and I now want to have also information about this situation from the Russian side.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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