Speeches & Statements

Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the public gathered in the Ilia Chavchavadze Museum

Welcome everyone!

This idea – to found a Computer Skills Promoting Society, belongs to Giorgi Vashadze and Giorgi has been the driving force of this project too.

I believe it is a rather honorable job.

You know that Ilia Chavchavadze had founded the literacy promoting society. Ilia had said: “Knowledge is like a lit candle: if you light up another 1000 candles with one candle, neither the flame, nor light, nor its might will diminish. Conversely, it will even increase, as instead of one, another thousand candles will start glowing together with it”.

Almost the same thing can be said today – the computer is the candle for us.

These words also belong to Ilia: “The knowledge is everything in current times: it has a greater market than money, it is sharper than a sword, stronger than a cannon”.

In a world of 7 billion people, we are a country whose population is little less than 5 million.

How can we sustain ourselves? How can we get through? How can we achieve success? – Only with knowledge! This is the response by Ilia Chavchavadze.

When we started the computerization, English learning and subtitling of movie programs at schools many people objected and said: who cares about this, people are in misery…

Yet, the computer alone are not sufficient, if you do not speak the language of communication – English, you will not be able to look up information even on that computer.

Certainly, there are many people who are in poverty today and the daily fight for existence is very acute, yet it is no longer 2003, when people indeed were in hunger.

Again, Ilia Chavchavadze responds to this: “Certainly it is not considered not only a great deed, but even a small one by those people who turn a blind-eye on each public deed and say that spreading of literacy will not bring benefit to people, first we need to feed them and then make them literate”.

Exactly the same thing can be said about computers and the English language.

The group that has founded the literacy society has been such an interesting generation and they are so relevant for today’s discussions! Although in an entirely different context, as Georgia was not an independent country then and did not even have its chance.

Ilia Chavchavadze had begun the formation of a unified Georgian mentality in a very difficult environment. 

Basically, he had started to collect the different characteristics of Georgian parts, different places and form a single nation and he had managed to reconsolidate it in a very difficult environment.

I am sure that Ilia would have very much liked for instance, our custom’s terminals, where the goods flow fast, as he wrote a lot about free trade. He wrote how important it is for goods to cross borders without any barriers.

There was a large article by Ilia Chavchavadze published in 1900 in “Iveria”, on the economic freedom and protectionism.

He also wrote many articles about Georgian wine.

I have a vineyard in the village Kindzmarauli, a few hundred meters from here. The taste of wine which is made from the grapes of my vineyard, is an exact match to the taste of an Italian wine “Sasikaya” – it is a very precious wine and the price of a single bottle starts from a few hundred Euros and goes up to few thousands. I have only tasted it once or twice.

The Russians accused us a few years ago of selling poison instead of wine. Certainly, our wine had never been a poison, but the fact is that the quality of Georgia wine then had been much poorer than it is today.

Thanks to Russia for forcing us to produce a better wine.

This is precisely what Ilia Chavchavadze wrote about and discussed in detail; how to make a better wine so that it had no problems on the market.

When you read this article, you will have an impression that it is written by current wine makers of this period.

Look what Ilia Chavchavadze is writing: “it is impossible for the initial owner of wine to have a benefit”. First our entire care, our exercise should be dedicated to give our wine the fortitude, and the rest is simple. If our wine does not have an endurance of taste, color and bouquet, if all the kindness it has does not reach the market, a person who drinks, a person who buys, the markets of foreign countries will be a futile wish for us. They say that first of all you need money to start business”…

Meanwhile, I speak to winemakers, just as Ilia writes: “do not think about money, just make sure you give a solid foundation to your business and the money will find you”.  

This is an absolutely exact characterization of what is happening.

I remember well when we started to address the quality of wine, there were winemakers here that told us: I have a million bottles of wine still to export, help us to sell it and once we have the money, we will take care of the business.

These one million bottles had been almost entirely dyed liquid.

This is no longer the case today, it is gone!

We are beginning the production of this wine in an entirely different manner.

There were very interesting debates being held then on religious freedom, women’s rights. Ilia Chavchavadze wrote many articles on this topic and he was right. People that state today that unless you are rich there is no place for you in politics, perfectly matches the title of Ilia Chavchavadze’s article- “Wandering of the ignorant”.First, Ilia Chavchavadze and then Iakob Gogebashvili wrote very interestingly on these issues.

Ilia Chavchavadze wrote: “on equality of classes”: “there is no good in advancement of a single class within a nation, if the rest of the nation does not advance; conversely, advancement of one class had lead to the regression of others. Regretfully, our lordship has not yet grasped this thinking and as a single separate class of our nation, often leans and counts separately”, - Ilia attacks those who say that there should exist only one class and all the others detached from everything. 

This is called meritocracy in our language – promotion based on skill and hard work, on labor.

They will never see Georgia being divided up among few families. Georgia is being governed and has to advance similarly from Kvareli, Chkhorotsku, Batumi, Kutaisi, from Sokhumi in the future, and so on. Of course, from Tbilisi as well, and all of its districts – from Gldani, from Varketili, Vazisibuani….

The most interesting, advanced youth and new generation is coming from those places today.

Iakob Gogebashvili dedicated an article to the equality of citizens in 1880 and writes: “tribal exceptionality hinders the supreme and most honorable feelings and results in the halt of things, where the close and fruitful solidarity and principle of equality among nations should reign. Conversely, it enhances human attitudes among different tribal elements, bears the relationship and love, consolidates the fruitful mutual interaction between the local and non-local elements and contributes to the unanimous fight in achieving a goal”…then he condemns the narrow racial exceptionality and so on.

In a nutshell, a well used term that is embodied on our coat of arms – strength is in unity!

The main guarantee today that the old mentality will never return, apart from the political will and a firmly shaped choice of our society, is education, education and even more education.

This is also a means to ease life.

I have discovered today that I do not have an electronic ID card. I went and took a photo in Batumi, paid money and as I was in rush, I asked them to send it over to Kvareli. So it happened, but it happened not only for the president of Georgia, but it will happen for every single citizen of Georgia.

There is equality today in Georgia and everyone is equal before the law despite who has how much money and which street they live on, the representative of which district he is and to which family he belongs.

I have seen a letter, which the Supreme Council of Georgia had sent to the American Congress and world parliaments in 1990 after the earthquake that happened in western Georgia. The letter depicted our country; it also said in the letter that we are about five and a half million people, that we have a beautiful nature and land and ended along these lines: Such a huge world can afford to sustain Georgia.

We were very naive then and genuinely believed that once we would send this letter, the whole world would surely get together to help us out.

We no longer have such an illusion today and neither do we believed that we can survive only on Borjomi and tea. Yet, it turned out that Borjomi and Georgian tea are very profitable products, even in the modern world.

In fact, there is a rumor going on these days to sell our production online – on Amazon. Several of your employees persistently repeated this and said that Churchkhela was sold on Amazon; they also said that we should sell the Chichilaki too.

It is good if it had been sold, I am glad, but we should not deceive ourselves – you cannot make Georgia richer by selling Chichilaki and Churchkhela on Amazon.

Georgia needs access to the internet and computers precisely because, so that we know what is the most popular, what service we can offer and what products can we assemble so that we do not lag behind and adequately present ourselves on the world market.

We should remember that we are a small country, which has an opportunity to find its niche in all these directions.

No one could imagine that Georgia would ever be able to assemble the military production. Everyone is stunned by the fact that Georgia started to manufacture the electronic management systems of artillery, flight machines, and infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank mines and other firing weapons basically from scratch. We have produced passenger airplanes in the end.

No matter who says what, we are a very talented nation and we have a huge prospect in this field.

We are the only country in the post soviet space, where “Intel” has opened a factory and patented the “Police-pads”. This is a Georgian product in the high technology sphere.

We need to introduce modern technologies into the governance of the country as well, for instance, we should be able to invite any minister with a push on a button and have conversation with him in a 3D format.

All of this will be necessary in order for us to be more efficient.

You know that our government is very mobile, members of authorities constantly travel to regions and have meeting with the population. The legislative body will also move to the geographic center of Georgia, Kutaisi, very soon.

We will be able to establish a full-blown and uninterrupted connection across the country precisely with the use of modern technologies. We already have a precedent of introduction of latest technologies with the “Classes of the Future”.

Students have perfectly managed to use the “Smartboards” and sensor computers installed on desks.

We should understand that we will save huge sums with the right use if modern technologies.

We have lots of work to do in Kvareli, Dedoflistskaro, Sagarejo, Sighnaghi, Chkhorotsku, Khashuri and so on.

We should do everything for the society to have new opportunities and means to access the world market.

We should use computers in order to connect with the wider world.

We are a very skilled and knowledge prone nation.

We have managed and established a system, within which hundreds of teachers are teaching Georgian in different regions of Georgia.

This program is a 21st century classical analogy of the 19th century reform implemented by Ilia.

Apart from this, we have invited more than 2000 English language teachers, who teach English – this also is part of a general program, which will allow us to rid ourselves of the developing country status and become a world’s high ranking country.

There are many things that have already been done in Georgia and this new program will give the Georgian villages even more opportunities for development.    

For instance, people residing in the village Vejini or Gavazi should be hooked to the computer network in a way that people in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica or any populated centers of Singapore are.

The 80 percent of Georgian villages will have the internet in the nearest future, apart from this Tbilisi and Batumi will be entirely covered by the wireless internet – the Wi-Fi system.

According to the modernization plan if not 100 percent, at least 90 percent of school students will have personal computers by 2015.    

We should be one of the leading countries in the world in this respect.

Successful implementation of this project requires the effort of every single citizen, as it is a milestone thing.

Precisely, because of this, as an ordinary citizen of our country, I am joining the Computer Skills Promoting Society.

To achieve the common goal, we need enthusiasm and an idealist society, which will enhance the technological knowledge even further. 

Thank you!

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