Speeches & Statements

The President of Georgia addressed the population of Rustavi


I have arrived here today to have a briefing at the Regional Administration building. I wanted to discuss the issues of city development with our Governor, the Mayor of Rustavi, as well as other people in charge, but I decided to take a yard-to-yard walk in Rustavi, hear people’s opinion and then have a briefing. I believe this is more appropriate.

I think that the most important thing is to raise those issues, which are of direct concern of you, the Rustavi population first and then the issues which the representatives of regional administrations will brief me about. 

That is why I want to listen to you, but before that I would like to address you.

As we can see, there are few things that need to be solved here: first – the problems related to the municipality infrastructure; second – social protection in general; third, I believe the most important – employment; forth, very important as well – the sphere of education and then those common political issues, which concern us all – e.g. healthcare which falls in the social sphere and so on.

First and foremost, it needs to be mentioned that some issues of municipality infrastructure are already solved. In particular, when we were beginning to work on the issue of water supply in Rustavi 4-5 years ago, provision of water to the population was scheduled and the local residents had it for 1-2 hours. Now, the population of the city is provided with water for 24 hours.  Before we started to work on this issue, I hoped that we would manage to increase the provision of water from two hours to 6-7 hours, as abundant problems were being identified.

You certainly should not be preoccupied with this and hence I will not bother you with this issue.

The whole of Rustavi is provided with water for 24 hours now and all of this has brought a huge relief to me personally.

The issue of roads had to be solved as well – the main streets have been paved almost everywhere and we are beginning to refurbish the yards now. Every yard has to be very well refurbished. If the population is willing and everyone agrees, at least 90 percent, we have to take out the garages and arrange the playgrounds. However, the people should make decisions on such issues.

The second issue concerns the construction of hospitals. There are huge hospitals being built in Rustavi, hereby, it is worth mentioning that we are establishing an insurance system.

Every child younger than 5 years will have insurance this year, which is very important and in addition to this, persons over 60 will also be insured.

The fact that no one from Rustavi will have to go to a Tbilisi clinic for treatment is very important as well. You will have the best hospitals in Rustavi, where treatment will be affordable for everyone and you will receive the highest quality service on the basis of insurance policies. 

The third topic I would like to discuss with you – is education. As I pay particular attention to the reconstruction of Rustavi, I would like every school of Rustavi to be exemplary for the rest of Georgia.

It is important now to train the youth in a way that they should not only have the opportunities to find jobs in the local market, but be able find the best, with a high-income and most interesting jobs. Because of this, every school in Rustavi will be renovated using modern technologies and will be equipped with the latest technology.

The next subject is the employment issue.

I received a letter from Rustavi a while ago and I would like to read this to you:

“To Mr. President from the population of Rustavi”

“Rustavi, practically, is a city populated by poor people. The people in charge of the city should be more attentive and compassionate. The main problem is employment and an adequate salary. It is very difficult to solve family issues with a low income. Despite the bit-by-bit progress for the city’s welfare, unbearable situations still persists within the population; the average income is about 200 GEL, which is the least amount for existence.

I agree with the author of this letter and think that the people in charge are always required to show more compassion, I believe our senior officials are aware of that, otherwise we will draw adequate conclusions and make staff related decisions. Everyone is aware of this at all levels and I know it as well.

When we talk about 200 GEL, certainly, this is very low for a salary, but there were no jobs 3-4 years ago at all. We are gradually moving to a stage when low paying jobs are being created.

Our enemy decided in 2008 that Georgia as a state had to cease its existence, but after this we have opened five factories and one big trade complex as an auto-market in Rustavi. Besides, 15,000 permanent and 5,000 seasonal jobs have also been created.

In other words, 20,000 jobs have been created in the city with a population of little over 100,000. In no other Georgian city has so much progress been made.

In fact, the dome of the President’s Palace, the Batumi Public Service Hall, the Batumi Customs, the leather factory that exports its goods to many countries around the world, have been made by the Rustavi Metal Construction Factory. They used to export the primary production before, but now they have begun to reengineer to make the complete products on site.

The Nitrogen Factory which works at full capacity will be twice as big very soon. 

Besides, a larger cement factory will also be opened.

The Georgian Cement Factory, which was opened after the war already produces more than what was produced during the Soviet times, but despite all of this we have a big deficit in the market and we still have to import cement from abroad.

There are also investments being made into the Rustavi metal production currently, which means that this factory will operate at full capacity. 

I also met the population in the 8th District before coming here. There were few boys whom I might not know by name, but looked very familiar. I have often seen their faces on the places where people who did nothing would gather in Rustavi.

Everyone is working as a master now in the auto-market – the car importer has less profit today than the master.

6,000 people have been employed this market alone during the last year.

I am aware that at minimum 100 USD income is left over from selling a car and certainly it would be great if it was 500 USD. We all would be much happier if for their quite hard work everyone could get 700-800 GEL, instead of 400-500.

But, after waking up in the morning people had nowhere to go a while ago, consequently they could not do anything about their children either.  These people have jobs now and perhaps not as much as what their children and family need, but it is already a step forward. Everything, including this process is progressing.

I myself try to think in this direction together with you.

One of the ways that we move forward in this direction and at a quick pace too is in the manner that our country is developing – we had almost 7 percent growth last year. For example, Russia’s economic growth indicator in terms of percentage varied from 2 to 3 despite them having oil and gas.

We need to always have more if you are to survive in this environment.

There are very educated and intelligent people living here and since we moved on to politics, I would like to mention that the Russians have recently declared Boris Akunin as Georgia’s agent, because of his Georgian origin and his last name - Chkhartishvili.

If we use this logic Dimitry Shashkin is then Kremlin’s agent, because he is Russian ethnically, physically and accent-wise, yet Dimitry Shashkin is a great patriot of Georgia.

Their country is on the verge of a collapse but they still find time to talk about us. They find time to go to Africa, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on something which will be entirely counterproductive for them. They find time because the country they thought they destroyed and devastated, all of a sudden is successful.

For example, everyone is coming here to buy a car: to do this, they come from Central Asia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Southern Russia as well…buying a car here is much easier – there is no corruption, customs clearance is prompt and besides, our guys are the best at doing anything. That is why a client from Central Asia prefers to come here to buy a car, than being fraught with problems there.

I visited the hotel construction site today – Tamaz Gelukashvili is building a 70 apartment hotel. However, so many people are coming here that not a 70 apartment hotel, but a lot larger hotel should be built here.

This does not only relate to the car sale, as the visiting person might either go to eat, go to the supermarket or be interested by so many other things and would spent money everywhere. 

We used to visit Germany just like this and spent money there. This money stays in Rustavi now.

Let’s think what the situation is like today – People with fascist slogans are talking about democracy and human rights today; those who would always rig the elections talk to us about fair elections; people who have overwhelmed Georgia during the last decade of the 20th century talk to us about corruption; people who have brought us darkness and gloom tell us not to build dams. All these people have grouped together now and want to take us back to the past.

These people tell us what to do.

I am personally always for seeing new people in politics; I support promoting the youth, as well as the interesting people of the older generation and certainly, such people can be found in every generation.

But those people have gathered now and are trying to bring back the old times, the ones who let us live in the darkness, squashed the dignity of other people and represent the symbol of corruption.

I believe our answer to their action is very concrete and is the same as to our conqueror – we will develop, we will build and improve conditions. If we keep developing like this at our first stage we will completely overcome the unemployment, which is absolutely possible, while in parallel to this, at the second stage we will increase the income in order to live better.

This is how I imagine this…

Therefore, I perfectly understand your concern regarding unemployment.

For example, the same people, the same group would have the ownership and rob the Rustavi Metallurgical Factory in the old days. Imagine how much potential the factory had, it resisted the 10 groups of thieves and there is something still left of it.

They still wanted to rob some more lately, either by bringing international arbiters, or by one clan or the other and basically they did destroy it. I myself talked to the investors, but bringing investment turned out to be very difficult.

It was very hard to distinguish who truly wanted to revive the factory and who wanted to export the scrap over again. Everyone would promise mountains of gold and nothing happened afterwards.

We are seeing now that, although starting from zero, but still it has been lifted and the production started to grow. It has also been helped by the fact that construction has fully spanned across Georgia and the country is developing. 

For example, we need materials for building the new city Lazika and let’s say we were to import the street lighting, or metal construction from Austria or Belgium. But why should we import these items from abroad, when for the same price – for a bit more expensive or cheaper, we can make them on the spot, in Georgia? We do have a potential to make them here as well.

Therefore, I clearly understand when you worry about the youth’s unemployment. Yet, I have also seen how very experienced people with 50 years of work experience, due to having missed 10 years of work, have returned to a number of factories and people around 70-80 are now teaching the youth, as quite some time had been lost for nothing.

Our country had lost the labor momentum and almost an entire generation was basically lost.

Yet,what has not been entirely lost can be returned. We are doing this too – the specialist has to be employed; and we should give people an opportunity to obtain a new profession,  the youth, as well as the elderly. We are creating vocational centers for this and are already creating conditions for people of every age to improve qualifications and seek jobs.

 I do understand the anger of those who have low paying jobs, for instance 200 GEL is not enough, but some do not have jobs at all.

I have an ambition to turn Rustavi into an exemplary city of Georgian in terms of municipal infrastructure. This implies having the best roads here, refurbishing the yards, building an Olympic standard swimming pool, building a very large sports complex and other infrastructural projects.

Similarly, it is important for the children of socially unprotected families to have the relevant passes which will allow them to enroll in different sport activities.

There is a unique park here, the rehabilitation project of which has already been finished by Spanish specialists and the reconstruction works will surely begin. 

Besides, the Tbilisi-Rustavi highway is being constructed which means that it will take us half the time to come from Tbilisi to Rustavi.

In the end, Rustavi will become a very comfortable and particularly attractive place not only for the residents of Rustavi, but also for those of Tbilisi.

When I was a chairman of the Parliament’s juridical committee, Zurab Adeishvili was my assistant. I did not have a high salary myself and certainly neither did he although, this amount meant much more back then. The bulk of it would be spent on transportation. Despite this, he would still prefer to live in Rustavi as the prices of apartments, compared to that in Tbilisi was much lower. Zurab Adeishvili has remained the biggest patriot of this city as of today. 

Rustavi has this feeling that receives people from all parts, shows warmth, connects with each other and makes them fall in love with it.

I am saying all of this because when the road is completed and the infrastructure finished the prices on apartments will become much higher than what is in Tbilisi.

We have to achieve exactly this, as it relates to more income.

With the increase of prices on apartments the income will also increase but you have to take part in this process as well.

Among these, the environment of the city must be improved – the quality of life is measured by green zones everywhere. In fact, one of the things which the communist did well was making the environment greener.  They had specialists for this task everywhere, especially in the 50-60s. They gave it up afterwards, messed up certain things and started to steal everything. 

Therefore, let us also work in this direction.

I would also like to take care of the park this year, we need to think about the lake in the park and I repeat again – This should become a place that everyone wishes to live in.   

I am convinced that Rustavi will indeed become one of the best cities and we will all work on this together. 

Thank you very much for your attention. 

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