Speeches & Statements

Mikheil Saakashvili: “There are organs, by shutting down of which the organism cannot live – such an organ is Adjara for Georgia”.

I welcome everyone.

May 6 is the 8th anniversary of Rose revolution of Adjara, the full restoration of Georgia’s jurisdiction in Adjara, and it indeed is a very significant date.

I would like to talk about such issues today, relating to the revolution of Adjara, which, perhaps, I have not previously touched upon.

But before that I would like to tell you that I am very delighted to see you.

You, the students of Shota Rustaveli Batumi State Theater, have gathered here today and for us you are the people for whom it is worth living, for whom it is worth working and for whom we actually exist – I mean the members of the government, members of parliament, and in general the political class of Georgia. Everything that you see is being created for you.

Georgia belongs to the younger generation and I say this as a representative of a not so young generation any more.

We have very meaningful students’ programs and we are planning to implement several of them.  

We have announced a while ago, that we are introducing students cards, which all of you will have. With these cards, for example, it will cost you much less to get from Batumi to Tbilisi by train; you will have discounts in cafes, banks, and different commercial structures. We are now negotiating with supermarkets as well.

To be a student should be a privilege in Georgia and this should be demonstrated by the student card as well.

This card will have an electronic chip, which we will plug into an international system.

We need all of this in order to help ease the life of students, especially for those who pay for their own schooling and have a huge expenditures.

The second thing we would like to offer you is medical insurance for students…

Within the frame of the hospital sector development program, there are 150 hospitals being built in Georgia. Added to this are other big projects – e. g. Koreans are planning to build a huge medical center and there will be an investment of about 250-300 million USD made for this.

Georgia will become a main center of this region in terms of medical service, as well as other spheres, but this service has to be accessible, primarily, for the Georgian people.

We are insuring almost half of the population on the first stage, but our principal, strategic aim is to insure every person in Georgia.

Each person should have insurance in our country either from work, state, or self insured, but no one should be left without insurance.

We will achieve this gradually, but first we are insuring children up to 5 years of age and people who are of retirement age this year.

As students have many expenses they have to have insurance.

Students might not necessarily need insurance, but the medical facilities that are being opened here, should be accessible for you.

The third issue –we have achieved the elimination of protection in the entry exams of the higher institutions. Perhaps, you do not remember this, but I remember it well that since soviet times there were fees established in all higher institutions of Georgia and for instance, it cost 15,000 to apply to the law faculty, 20,000 to the medical institute, etc.

It truly is a great achievement that exams are underpinned by the equality principle, but there continues to be a feeling of unfairness with regard to one issue. If, for instance, a student does not get enough points on exams to receive a state grant due to various reasons, he has to pay for his entire four years of study and has no chance to improve his results.

It is not fair, and because of that, I and Dimitry Shashkin, have discussed this matter and are introducing the following testing system.

If the student is outstanding and has excellent results, they will be able to take the relevant exam at the end of the year and receive the state grant.

By this, you have the chance to fund your study. Let be clear, I do not support the kind of equality where the state would similarly finance someone who does nothing and someone one who does an excellent job in their studies.

The state has an interest in you having an incentive to study well. We give you a chance and if you study, it will never be too late for you to improve your grant.

I am very delighted by the fact that we are implementing yet another project, which envisages employment for students in summer.

When we first started to implement this program a few years ago, I remember there was not much activism.

It did not work across all of Georgia, but Adjara had continued this and I know that many of you who are graduating this year enrolled in this program back then.

This program had tremendous resonance this time – 25 thousand students registered in one day across Georgia. I was stunned, but this means that an entirely different generation is here, different people, with different a mentality and attitude.

The 500 GEL that students will receive within the one month summer   program may not be a huge salary, but this means that our youth has willingness to work today, has no hesitation about it and are even proud of doing a valuable thing for their society.  

This will give everyone of you a chance to see what it is like to work and this is a very significant opportunity.

These are a number of initiatives, which we are planning to implement in the education sphere.

You are aware as well that the Batumi Technological University is being built behind Piaca and the “Radisson” hotel, which will open towards the end of September. Only half of it is complete so far. It is important that Batumi will become a University city.

The Batumi University will be yours, which we will surely strengthen and I intend to allocate funds for additional scholarships so that students of this university have the opportunity to study abroad.

 I plan this specifically for your university, as the university tradition is timeless and we should make sure that this is no less than others in any respect.

It is very hard to make something out of nothing, that is why it is important to have a foundation and in this case the foundation is your university.  

Next is the technological university, which is 40 floors high – it will be the tallest university across the Caucasus.

Buildings of this height are used for offices elsewhere, or for hotels, while the tallest building we will have here will be the University building.

Inside the building, on the 35th floor there will be an amusement park Ferris Wheel, on top of which will a dining court and a library.

Now I would like to talk to you about May 6th – the meaning of this date. This is a celebratory date, but I know that not everyone feels like celebrating in Adjara and rest of Georgia.

There still is a great poverty here.

Much has been done on the outside, but inside the districts there is much more work to be done.

There is work being done across the whole of Batumi now, but in terms of infrastructure there was such a devastating situation in Batumi and Adjara as a whole that it will take another 10 years to rectify everything.

In fact, the “Royal Caribbean” is entering the Black Sea for the first time, which is the largest cruise company in the world.

There was a ship called “Shota Rustaveli” in my childhood, I was never onboard, but when it stopped here or in the Sokhumi port – everyone stared at it astonishingly.

Obviously, when the Soviet Union was dissolved, “Shota Rustaveli” was cut and sold. There will be much larger ships entering now, through the “Royal Caribbean”.

The first thing the director if this company requested was to see the suburbs of Batumi. We took him to look at every street – wherever he went, there was work going on.

He was stunned and said: “Our ships are sailing to the Caribbean islands, in famous touristic zones, tropical and sub-tropical places, but only the front facades are decorated there – just when a tourist moves in further, everything is so ruined and destroyed, he see such  poverty and despair that he loses all joy. Here, there is something happening everywhere”.

If fact, he advised us about one thing: “make record of the existing situation so that the next generations do not forget what it was like here”.

I have a different wish – I want us to forget this; I do not want remember at all that we had such an awful situation here.

We remember it well what Batumi was like. It was one of the darkest cities in the world – with terrible roads.

Ever since Soviet times they tried to deprive us of factual control of western Georgia.

That is why we are moving the parliament to Kutaisi.

Russia was particularly interested in control over western Georgia. 

Abkhazia is ancient Georgian land, but we were always told that it was not part of Georgia.

 I was recalling it the other day as well that according to the state criteria, you could not even write songs about Sokhumi; they did not allow us to film Georgian movies there – they did not divide money on this...

They wanted to make us understand that it was not part of Georgia – such was their mentality.

They coveted this land and that is why they wanted us to believe in this.

During one of the census taken in the soviet times, they registered the biggest part of the population of Adjara not as Georgians, but Muslims – registering people by ethnic origin was the soviet style.

With regard to Adjara, the Soviet Union was gradually eliminating “Georgian”…

It might seem strange to you, but there had always been discord between those from Tbilisi and Batumi; the same was happening between residents of Tbilisi and Sokhumi. There were always fights, inquiries, jealousy…and that is how that regime was ruling.

Then came Aslan Abashidze, who was the incarnation of all of this – of quintessential feudalism and all the evils that we remember from Georgia’s past.

 He was acting exactly like the proper feudalist.

You would not remember this, but I came here in 1998, I was a member of parliament then, a young reformist and remember it well – Aslan began to adopt laws, based on which he was taking Adjara out of the constitutions space of Georgia.

Namely, he legalized that the laws adopted here would have supremacy over the central laws, e.g. in the defense sphere.

He adopted laws, based on which he called himself the Head of the Automony of Adjara, which means that he became the leader of the armed forces that he was creating here in advance and they would only be subordinate to him. 

He completely took the financial system out of Georgia’s financial control.

I remember we had a meeting of the Parliament’s bureau in Batumi, we arrived here and there was a football match and the whole park and boulevard was closed just because the grandchild of Aslan was riding his electric cart. There was only one road paved in Batumi anyway.  

Once, this child, who was left to the guards, hid in one of the parks and they could not find him for five minutes. Aslan Abashidze beat those guards with his own hands and everyone stared while the bloody clothes were being removed from there.

His family members would go into the cafes and restaurants and would close them and do whatever they liked.

Some shameless representatives of Tbilisi intelligentsia would call such a person a savior of Georgia and a great Georgian figure. 

In the meantime, Adjara was gradually leaving the constitutional space of Georgia.

I would like to remind you as well, there are records of this too of when the situation would escalate in Tbilisi, Shevardnadze would directly prompt him to declare Adjara’s independence. The main thing was to maintain his seat in Tbilisi, he would accept anything. For instance, had he not signed the peace treaty in Abkhazia and had not let the Russian “peacekeepers” come in, how would the Abkhaz maintain control, let’s say, over Gali and Ochamchire, Gulripsh and Tkvarcheli? There is no population at all there…He stationed an army there…just for him to preserve his authority in Tbilisi.

Even if we discuss the Tskhinvali’s case – had he not stationed the Russians there with the Dagomisi treaty, how would the separatists maintain their positions? They would never be able to do it…

He would prompt Aslan Abashidze exactly the same way.

There had been a case of classical state separatism in Adjara, as it is in many other countries and historically in Georgia too.

That is why, when Shevardnadze did everything together with Aslan to win elections in 2003, imagine what it would be like had the Rose Revolution not happened.

 In this case, state-wise Adjara, basically, would no longer be within Georgia.

In effect, the Rose Revolution was also a very important stage in preserving the Georgian statehood.

I believed in this back then and today as well – had we lost Adjara then, the Georgian state would have no future at all.

A person has organs, which can be shut down for a while, but then they can recover and continue to live; but there are organs, by shutting down of which an organism cannot live – such an organ is Adjara for Georgia.

This is the kind of situation we were in. 

After the Rose Revolution, despite the fact that they did not want to hold the inauguration here, we still arrived in Batumi. The ceremony had only lasted for few minutes, there were many people in Adjara who were prevented from coming to us, and after we have left, a few demonstrators were arrested and beaten.

Adjara continued disobedience since then and we knew that we had very little time. That is why, when Aslan was on another visit to Moscow to receive instructions, we decided to arrive without notification, to enter the government’s house and say that government of Georgia, the authorities of Georgia are here.

We did so too. Of course we were headed off by cars. On the way here, they transmitted to the the security services of Adjara from the three main check points that we were coming with an unknown mission.

The road police was entirely corrupt then and it was subordinate to this group and Russia without a word. Hence, we were met with the armed groups on the Choloki already at six o’clock, who had taken all the positions.

I stepped out of the car, but our bodyguards who had American detectors, showed us that armed people were hidden everywhere. They could confront us, but there would have been victims on both sides.

There were 3 thousand men armed to the teeth standing there.

We returned to Poti, but decided to hinder Aslan’s arrival, as it already was an open military insurgence against the Georgian state. 

We had two military crafts then, which we stationed on a raid in front of the airport. He thought that we wanted to shoot him down. We never had such an intention, but that is what he thought. Russians had sent a few famous journalists and deputies of state Duma with him and that is how he arrived.

We had military exercises in Poti after this and I took a military helicopter from Tbilisi. Despite coming to Poti, I had asked my pilot to make a circle above Choloki – I wanted to see what was happening and then continue on our way.

They had Choloki fortified in that period, but had no leaders on the ground and called for the Russian general Netkachov, who was protecting Adjara from the Georgian authorities. At the same time, they were instigating the topic on the Russian televisions: “Adjarian-Georgian conflict”.

The pilot had listened to me, but suddenly had changed course towards Poti. It turned out that Netkachov had ordered to shoot down the plane; Tbilisi had intercepted the signal and transmitted it to our pilot.

I remember the second incident as well:

After long disputes and negotiations, we were told that we could go, if we only arrived on a plane. We did not agree and still took cars; we were met by lots of people on our way, who received us well. The moment I arrived in Batumi, despite their resistance, I addressed the population from the balcony of a private home in front of today’s city hall.

I had also heard that evening that Jemal Gogitidze was asking: Mr. Aslan, what should we do – it turned out that snipers had me in target. That means that at that moment our lives were dependant on the decision of this separatist and not so balanced person. 

I came here last time in March and during the talks, which was observed by the Mayor of Moscow from the next room, they offered me a house in Gonio or Kvariati and an apartment in Moscow too.

They thought that we would shake hands and I would leave them alone.

The main thing happened afterwards – we were ready for everything, we were very close to conflict, but the society of Adjara itself had found a way out of this.

Different from Abkhazia, Russia did not find a force to lean on among the people, did not manage to disperse people anywhere and in effect, the society helped to avoid huge violence.

The society had demonstrated tremendous courage, as they were ready to open fire and crush people.

They were backed by the Russian army. Netkachov blew up the connecting bridges. With that they said that Adjara was no longer part of Georgia, not only legally, as before, but physically as well.

I am telling this so thoroughly because it was a very significant moment in Georgia’s history as well and it will be very important in the future too, as we still have territories, where we have to restore our control.

We have no lost territories, Georgia has territories, which from juridical, legal, justice and historical points of views are its territories, but cannot for the time being control, as the occupation forces are stationed there.

Yet, what happened in Adjara will happen there as well in future and they will leave just as they have left from here. It was the only case where someone ripped something from Russia’s hands in the post soviet space. No one has managed to overcome the Russian veto anywhere – neither Transnistria, nor other places, where similar problems exist, e.g. in the same central Asia.

The Georgian society has managed that and particularly the Adjarian society.

Tensions between us had started after this fact, not because I said something about someone.

When everything was finished, Ivanov, who was not a bad person, and who liked Georgians well, arrived here with the mandate of preserving Abashidze and did everything for this. 

I remember well the first call from Putin, who told me: you have done such an unexpected thing with regard to Adjara do not expect “presents” from us in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, you will fail.

He kept his word too, but it is a temporary reality and of course it will be reversed.

Changing people’s psychology was very significant back then – I remember well, how they alienated the society here from rest of Georgia.

People were very happy and came out to streets after these events. They held a press conference in Bobokvati, which through the mobile television station of Adjara television was to be transmitted live in Tbilisi as well.

The remaining supporters of Aslan brought the residents of one of the districts out with the aim that as if Tbilisi residents were taking the property of Adjara television with them and closed the way to this mobile television station.

Imagine the kind of psychology they were founding here! It is true that everyone was kind towards us, but on the first occasion, they had fears that Tbilisi would rob Adjara.

That is what your generation has overcome and this is the main thing that has changed here – this is what the mental revolution is about.

The main resource of Georgia is Adjara today and not only because such a thing had happened here – there is a tremendously huge potential here.

Donald Trump was visiting here few days ago. He is the most renowned developer in the world, and probably, in history, whose name is known to every American, every Ukrainian, every Singaporean, etc.

He said that Batumi would be the best place across the world in 5 years. Trump is very careful about his name and words. He was stunned by what he saw here.

I remember, a famous reporter of CNN was making a video about Georgia and I did not believe  what I was hearing, when he said: I have been to many countries, and I have never seen a miracle like what is happening in Batumi.

I repeat once again, this person is a CNN reporter and he is very careful about his words as well. 

That is why we are creating something that has tremendous potential for Georgia and a “ticket” for a better future.

Certainly there still is huge poverty in the country; certainly, the level of unemployment is high, but many things have been created herewith.

 A lie was the main instrument of political battle in the past. One of the messages I have heard often, including in Batumi is that the government wants to settle 23 thousand foreigners in Adjara.

Those who preach this are Georgia’s enemies, while those who believe this, should not be all too well.

I would like to state with full responsibility that everything that is being done is being done by Georgians, in the name of Georgia and for the strengthening of Georgia.

The 90 percent of ongoing construction is being built by Georgians. In Moscow, almost 100 percent of the construction is foreign.

For instance, one of the best companies is “Orbi”, which started everything from building three floor buildings to now building 25 and 34 floor buildings and is planning a 60 floor building.

It is an entirely Adjarian company, which even plans to expand in order to build in other cities of Georgia and go out to the foreign market as well.

There are local businesses created here; the local people are the ones who create everything.

When I talk about Singapurization, I have to note that Singapore was not built by someone. The population of Singapore is 5 million and in terms of climate, it is very much like Batumi. Every person represents something there and in terms of GDP per capita they surpass all countries of Europe. Everyone has a feeling of being special there and that they are creating their future with their own hands.

A similar feeling has to emerge here as well that the local citizens run businesses; the local residents are creating enterprises.

Of course, the initial capital might be foreign, for example, Ukrainians are making greenhouses here – we had negotiations these days, they opened a tangerine reprocessing factory; similarly the Turkish are investing in textiles; Americans are coming in…

The initial capital everywhere comes from somewhere, but in the end, Georgian have to get the knowledge and experience, should have their share and then open their own business and these businesses should do better than those created by foreigners.

The second thing that is also being done here has to do with tourist center.

Remember, when the touristic season would start in Adjara? It was at the end of July.

Our media group arrived here yesterday and they could not even find one room in the hotels – is it not shocking?

Now – at the end of April, beginning of May, all the hotels are full.

There were 200 tourists visiting here during Aslan’s time, among which 99 percent were Georgian. We expect at least two and a half million tourists this year.

A person that arrives here spends and hence, leaves money, which then is redistribute to different businesses and so on.

Tourism is a huge potential.

The second is the financial service. The Government of Adjara has now elaborated a law in the financial zone. The Batumi seashore line, along the new boulevard, will be continued by the same length as it is now, towards Gonio. There is a new Batumi, the best stadium, carting center, the whole chain of hotels being built there.

There has been a meeting of 50,000 people on the stadium in Tbilisi and they demanded Saakashvili’s resignation. These were the representatives of former nomenclature – those fired road inspectors, government members and former elite, which could accept the idea that everything has changed in Georgia. We have begun the construction of a new boulevard in that period and when we said that we would complete it in month and a half everyone laughed, but you know that it happened just so.

We said it back then that Batumi would be the best place on the Black Sea and it indeed it is the best place on the Black Sea shore today.

Batumi is being built as a whole, but there will be a financial zone built in the back side of Gonio, with all the freedom in financial transactions.

It will be a huge industry for Batumi, for Adjara and consequently for the rest of Georgia.

It will be a new Batumi, where 40, 50 and 60 story buildings will be erected.

I think it will take at least ten years for this zone to become fully functional, but the process has already begun. We are adopting a law now and it will become operational towards the end of year.

Offices, buildings will multiply here like mushrooms, you will see it yourselves, the Batumi airport will expand, and the construction of Poti airport will be completed. The autobahn from Poti will come in directly here and it will take less than 30 minutes to get here.The autobahn will arrive here from Tbilisi as well and it will join the Istanbul autobahn. Hence, we will have a functional infrastructure.

The third is technologies.

We want to create a technological park here, including on the basis of a new university and those factories that are being built now, have to gradually become high tech.

We will have a new textile factory, for example, there are two such factories opening this year, there will be “Adidas”, “Nike” entering. You perhaps know as well that “Lotto”, “Puma” and other brands are already operating here, but these are still low tech manufacturing.

We need high technological manufacturing and we have the potential for this.

You are very intelligent people and you are the very ones who have to put everything into operation here.

I talk about these issues as this city is becoming a center in many respects.

People were leaving this place before – some to Russia, some to the Ukraine, many would go on the ships …it drives the economy.

Everyone will come here to do business and consequently, money will flow here from now on.

It will be a base for Georgia to make a leap forward and our plan is to have 10 percent annual economic growth from next year on for at least 10 years.

The main driving force will be precisely Batumi.

In turn, the Poti and later, the Lazika economic zones will be linked to Batumi.

 The fact that Parliament is moving to Kutaisi, that western Georgian will be the center of government; that decentralization takes place is very much contributing to the developments of this place.

Besides, the constitutional court has moved to Batumi and it is also a greatly conducive factor.

What Trump saw here, I had presumed a long time ago, but in 2-4 years the whole world will see it.

We will be in a tremendously lovely, exceptional place and we will all watch this unbelievable miracle together.

We have become accustomed and take it for granted, but besides Singapore and Hong-Kong, there has never been so much construction anywhere in the world actually in the history of the world.

This is only the beginning.

In fact, it is interesting that the construction work has not stopped here during the crises.

We were in need of metal smiths in Kutaisi a while ago, where we have the Parliament’s building to complete (basically, there is a hall and exterior works to be completed, otherwise to finally complete it would take another several months), they took approximately 30 specialists from Batumi, as are best masters work here.

Every operator of every lift, which we needed in Anaklia and Tbilisi – on the construction of Rike Park, is from here.

People acquired experience and there are the quickest and the most efficient construction workers here.

I would like to tell those who say that we intend to settle foreigners here. Basically, even those foreigners who were employed here have been substituted by Georgians – our people today are doing many things better.

What’s more, the Turkish companies that are building dams in higher mountainous Adjara and especially in Javakheti, are hiring our engineers and construction workers to do these jobs in Africa and Eastern countries.

We had 100 percent of the architects hired from foreign countries before, whereas now these are our architects who design things. Every house that is being built here is special in itself and none of them are done carelessly. Every street is being done beautifully.

I often employ the example of Singapore, as everything there is exemplary. I and Levan Varshalomidze were visiting there; Levan would stand at each tree for a while choosing carefully, would take photos and then ordered everything.

We take from them whatever we like, don’t we? But when Trump saw the lighting of our palm trees, he asked us to send 500 leaflets to his companies in Florida and California.

We learn many things from others, but in the end, a time will come when Singapore, as well as all other countries will learn from us.

 I am not exaggerating, you will it yourselves. We will all witness it soon together.

The President of Russia came out on TV and noted that they cannot implement reforms that Georgia has.

The result of the Georgian reforms is not only the fact that the police are no longer taking bribes; or that the Justice Houses have been build in Georgia first; or that what is happening in the custom’s and tax systems.

Georgian reforms are already visual – every spot of Georgia is developing.

We started to develop Batumi first. I remember, they even joked in Kutaisi: when he flies from there to here, he should at least wave his hand”. I apologize to every resident of Kutaisi, who was angry with me, but I believe they have no reason for this now.

I still read often on my Facebook page: as something is being done everywhere, why is nothing being done in Khashuri or Kaspi; or what has Lagodekhi done wrong.

There is something being done in every part of Georgia, you have to start from somewhere, but we will not achieve anything all at once, everything has its time.    

After so much destruction, of course, there still is a tremendous amount of work to carry out.

There still is a great number of poor people in the country. We have decreased the poverty level by 2.5, but see what kind of poverty is here in Batumi, Keda, Khulo and other districts.

Yet this situation is temporary, if we know exactly where and how we are going.

We now need political stability and the consolidation of society. There is a very difficult geo-political environment created around Georgia, but if we are very successful, no one will be able to push us.

We always talk about NATO and the EU, but if we complete all the work, neither NATO nor the EU will refuse Georgia.

We will have difficulties until they regard us as yet another underdeveloped and ruined country that has come up to their doors.

For example, NATO is very much willing for Finland to become a member of this organization; the EU has a great willingness for Norway to join their list. Both are developed countries and the society does see the necessity of joining these organizations.

We have to be like them, but we will surely become a member country of these unions. We should also achieve the level of development, so that they invite us themselves.

For instance, when 100 thousand German tourists will arrive here, I am sure they will be exactly of such opinion.

Remember how Greece has joined the EU. Many Germans had traveled and seen with their own eyes that it indeed is a European country.

Eventually, this is our road.

We should not be yet another one of the post-soviet states, or one of the Central or Eastern European countries – Georgian should be a unique and special state standing out with its successes.

This is the only recipe to reach the goal.

With your help we will either be a very successful country, or our existence, as that of a state, a nation and an independent entity will always be doubtful.

We all have understood it subconsciously.

I thank you once again.

Congratulations on May 6th!



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