Speeches & Statements

The President of Georgia delivered a speech at the ceremonial opening of the Parliament in Kutaisi

Welcome everyone!

I welcome the MPs, guests, the society of Kutaisi and all of Georgia.

My dear people, our dear fellow citizens,

Our great predecessors had embarked on a very difficult road of freedom on this date 96 years ago.

Before that, Georgia had been deprived of freedom by the empires for centuries, our country had lost the tradition of statehood, a vital threat was looming over our national identity. Despite this, they still had dared and declared the independence of Georgia.

There are family members of the founders of the first Republic today with us in this hall, including son of Noe Zhordania, the Chairman of Government of the Independent Republic of Georgia, Rejeb Zhordania and his wife.

Please, let us welcome them.

Of course, it was a very difficult decision, but it was underpinned by the most principal value of our people – love of freedom, which in itself was based on the unconditional conviction that the sons of this beautiful country, of this unique mountain, valley and seashore deserved a right to determine their fate themselves; deserved a right to take care of their own lives and have a chance to improve their being with their own determination.

Marching on the road to freedom proved to be much more difficult that time than many would have imagined – in just three years, a new ruthless empire which intervened from the north had made this road impossible to march and Georgia had lost its freedom for a long time.

We had lost an opportunity to decide our fate ourselves for far too long – we have lived without rights for 70 years, under complete occupation, with deprived speech, infringed dignity, deprived property and destruction of the best part of society.

 Yet, the only thing that they could not take away from us was precisely that unconditional conviction, which underpinned the May 26, 1918 decision – a conviction that our fate should belong to us; a conviction that our fate is in our hands and that freedom is the only way for the success of our small, but a great nation.

We are celebrating an intactness of this conviction today – the conviction, which is already a fact of our daily lives and which will actually determine the independent existence of our state and successful development in almost hundred years from now.

We pay tribute today to all of our predecessors and those people in our times, which brought us to the present day; to those who gave us freedom; those who sacrificed their lives, generations and epochs to the fight for freedom…

We pay tribute to those at the expanse of whose lives we hold the flag of an independent Georgia today.

We pay tribute to those who gave up their lives in the 90s and 2008, but did not give up the freedom.

As well as to those, who preserved their lives, but lost their homes, their own fatherland and motherland and are now living in refuge, until the country unites under one flag of freedom and the last battle of the empire against our statehood is not defeated.

We bow to the heroes who have passed on this great day, but at the same time, express our respect towards today’s heroes – towards our youth, who wear their military uniforms with dignity and represent the fortitude of our country, stand guard of our land and our dignity.

Their determination, their dedication, their resoluteness is what will make our nation’s independence a reality. Their service to our country on the Georgian territory or abroad, will determine our statehood.

 We are on the one hand remembering our past today, while on the other, we are writing the history of a new Georgia ourselves. Today, for the first time, Parliament is taking a seat in this lovely, the most modern building of this great city.

I would like to congratulate the Georgian Parliament with a new seat, while Kutaisi with the special status of the second capital of Georgia.

This new building of Parliament is also a perfect symbol of our country in many respects. Just like the new Georgia – this building is also modern, impressive and transparent.

Just like the new Georgia, this building represents an equal, unconstrained arena for all groups of our society, for non-governmental sectors, minorities and the free media. They will have an opportunity to present their interests here without any obstacles and influence the governance of a country. This building is a symbol of the open democracy, which we are building.

But, besides this, this building represents a metaphor of the modern Georgia in one more respect. As you see, despite the huge work which was carried out to build it during the past months, it still is to be finished. The same is true about our country – the new Georgia is a still to be finished construction.  

Yes, we have built many things together in recent years: integrated the country with new infrastructural projects, restored roads, freed the country from corruption and crime, improved the business environment – we made our country renowned in the whole world, as one of the most convenient countries in terms of doing business and tourism. We became ever closer to the civilized world, western democracies. Even in the last week, at the NATO summit in Chicago, where with joint efforts we made yet another significant step towards full-fledged NATO membership.

But despite this small progress, construction of new Georgia is still far from being finished. It still is under-construction and there is much more to be built in addition to what we have built so far. 

Everyone is in a triumphant mood today, and that is why we are cheerful. But I know very well that not every day is like this. I know that the daily life of our people is still fraught with many problems, troubles and poverty.

This holiday is of course a good day to talk about our achievements, but it is hard for me to talk about achievement when no matter where you look everyday life shows us how much work still needs to be done – how much still needs to be finished and taken to the end – how much still needs to be built and how small it is all that we have managed so far.

Yes, we are attracting new investments and are constructing new buildings, but many of our citizens are still unemployed, which is like a black cloud hanging above their lives every day. This is a daily struggle for a bite of food for themselves and their own children.

Yes, despite the world crisis and the possible economic collapse of Europe, in difference from the majority of the countries, our economy is increasing to an impressive 7 percent, but because of the still persisting, very difficult economic shortages, lots of families are still finding it difficult to get by.

 Yes, we have built new hospitals and clinics and have opened the latest medical facilities in all regions of Georgia – where it was impossible to even get basic treatment before. Yet, healthcare is still inaccessible for many of our fellow citizens. Many still do not have insurance. For many treatment is a luxury which they cannot afford.

And yes, we are proudly celebrating our statehood and Independence Day today as a sovereign, full-fledged state – just as our predecessors dreamed about it in 1918 – but at the same time a significant part of our country is still under the occupation of the Occupant Empire and hundreds of thousands of our citizens are not able to return to their homes.

Thus, I am delighted by the progress and success of our country, but at the same time I have sorrow and dissatisfaction.  On the one hand, we all see that the country is moving forward, while on the other hand, it is clear that not many citizens of our country are yet able to duly benefit from the success of the country. The benefit of country’s progress cannot be felt in many families.

That is why, despite today’s triumphant mood, we have to also say that the real celebration of our independence will be when a much greater number of our citizens will have a reason to celebrate personal and family success – when the majority of our people will feel independence from unemployment and misery.

Georgia is like this building – pretty, under-construction, filled with optimism, but still to be finished.

The construction of new Georgia will be successfully finished when each of its citizens will receive and feel the benefit from the common success of the country.

Because of this, let us together turn this day into a day when each one of us and first of all me, as the President of Georgia, will better realize our responsibility before each of those citizens and families, who have not yet benefited from the success of the country.

Today, let all of us together celebrate the newly begun process – but let us make a promise that we will not be satisfied, we will not stop, we will not have a rest, we will not relax until we take the commenced work to the end.

We have lots of things to do, in order to make sure that a greater number of people benefit from the development of the country; in order to expand the circle of those people who feel the progress of a country in themselves.

To that end, our plan envisages making healthcare accessible for everyone and giving insurance to every citizen – the new pension package will provide every pensioner with medical insurance from September. Likewise, children under 6 and students will receive insurance. Step by step, there will be no one left in Georgia, who will not have medical insurance – i.e. none of our citizens will be left without medical insurance. Healthcare will become accessible not only geography-wise, but material-wise as well.

To that end, we will significantly increase the funding of agriculture – continue the mechanization of villages and irrigation of agricultural lands, so that every farmer feels the impact of country’s success on the success of his family and field of work.

To that end, we will present all of our citizens with unprecedented opportunities of improving their professional qualification, so that greater numbers of people are able to find jobs as the result of increased infrastructural projects from the state, development of tourism, construction of new hydro-electrical stations, free economic zones, new cities and ports and inflow of additional investments.

Likewise, Georgia is under-construction in terms of democracy as well. That is why it is important, with our joint effort for the October elections, to be the fairest and freest, exemplary – with the highest quality of democracy.

It is impossible to bring the success of a country to the public, unless the democratic rights of the people are protected with the highest standard.

Only a free people manage to free themselves from unemployment and misery.

Yet, there is one more direction, with which we have to even better guarantee the universal development and engagement of our people in the success of our country – the true freedom and opportunity of our people to manage their lives on their own.

This is decentralization – economic decentralization, institutional and social decentralization…mental decentralization…

With decentralization we can do much more in order for more our citizens to benefit from progress of the country not only in the capital, but in other regions, villages and cities of Georgia.

With decentralization we can do much more in order for the economic growth to be better and more fairly redistributed across the people, for the profit and hope to be redistributed.

One of the principal ideals of the Rose Revolution was to stop the division of Georgia into centers and peripheries; into first class streets and the rest second class Georgia; into elites and ordinary people.

That is why it was not accidental that the Rose Revolution had started from regions, acquired even greater support in the Tbilisi suburbs and transformed into an unstoppable united will of people, an enormous wave in the center of Tbilisi.

That is why it was not accidental that all of our reforms – be it in the education sphere or in others – aimed at equipping our citizens residing in regions, villages and boroughs of Georgia with such opportunities and rights, which would have been a privilege only for the residents of one prestigious district in Tbilisi before.

That is why it was not accidental that while implementing the healthcare reform, our main guiding point was to create the highest standards of contemporary healthcare not only in centers, but across the whole country, so that besides healthcare, to also bring social fairness to our people.

That is why it was not accidental that we did not confine the reconstruction to only centers and expanded it into Sighnaghi, Batumi, Mestia, Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki, Telavi, Kvareli, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti…the result of this is Kutaisi…that is why the new economic zones are being opened and new airports built.

That is why it was not accidental that the Georgian Parliament is not the first state structure which has moved out of the capital.

Everything that we do; everything that I serve, aims at not transforming one district into the center, but the whole of Georgia; to create opportunities where they had never been before; to give the megaphone to those who as determined by the elites, had to constantly remain in silence.

To give a word to those who suffered in silence; to give rights to those who were doomed to not having rights; to free the main places for those who had always been abandoned during any redistribution.

 Different empires had divided and ruled our country from a single street of its capital during centuries.

That is why the new parliament in Kutaisi has a special meaning – that is why it is important that Kutaisi will become the true center of the Georgian political processes according to the constitution.

That is why it is important for us to be free from the old-fashion attitude of center and province.

I have offered everyone to join my train when I became a president – a train that always had to be moving, where there would be no rooms for different classes and all the passengers would get equal service. This train departed and has reached Kutaisi today.

We are not Georgia divided into the west and east, we are not a country divided into parts and regions, we are not a settlement consisting of prestigious and non-prestigious zones, we are not a society which is divided into the privileged elites and masses with no rights, into the elite professions and dirty jobs.

We are one state, one nation, one society, where every place is central and there are equal rights and opportunities for everyone!

Everything we did, we did primarily for those who were abandoned the most, forgotten the most, and suppressed the most. First of all, we did this for the population in villages, who create the main asset of a country and has many times saved Georgia; we did this for the residents of suburbs and peripheries for which no one had ever built a good road, supplied with water, had not provided with basic means. We try to make everything right for those people, who wholeheartedly and without reservation love their country, but have not received much from it.

There is a cave of Prometheus, for us Amirani, here near Kutaisi. Amiran stole fire from the Gods and returned it to people. Now it is time for a political Prometheusism, so that the political authority never again rests within the handful and the same group of people, who state publicly that the non-rich have no place in politics; that country people have no say in cities, that those from suburbs should stay in suburbs; that ethnic minorities should stay at their own places in isolation and that one handful group should determine the fate of everyone – as was the case before.

It is time to say that by moving the Parliament to Kutaisi, we are returning power to those to whom it belongs – to the multiethnic Georgian nation, to the Georgian society as a whole.

By moving the Parliament, the division of Georgia into west and east becomes the past. Parliament is no longer just in the center of any city, even in the center of the capital, it moves into the geographic center of Georgia. It becomes the most significant symbol of its integrity, just as Bagrati has been throughout centuries, the restoration of which is to be completed this year.

Yet, decentralization envisages other important steps, which will grant our citizens even more power notwithstanding the region or a village they lives in.  

This is the decentralization of the administrative governance – this is a delegation of its own, local authority to people.

The Georgian parliament adopted a law this month 7 years ago, as a result of which the local self-governments were granted more authority.

We held the direct elections of the Tbilisi Mayor for the first time two years ago, which was assessed by the entire international community as free, fair and competitive elections, that significantly advanced the democratization process of Georgia.

I propose to you to continue moving forward with bold steps towards further democratization, decentralization and on the way towards delegating more opportunities and authority to our people.

We should bring the local authorities closer to people; we should further increase the accountability of self-governments before the people in all regions; we should give more influence to people and respectively more citizens will have an opportunity to benefit from the progress of our country.

 Today is a special day for our country and let us celebrate it together.

Let us together pay tribute to those who made it possible, who have built, attained and defended our freedom. 

To those who did this at the expense of tremendous work, great battle and sacrifice.

To those who do it today and will do it in the future.

Let us together, once again, comprehend the responsibility of each one of us before the supreme value which is called our statehood and personal freedom.

Lets us enjoy this beautiful new building and the new Georgia, the symbol of which it represents.

But at the same time, let us agree that our chief common goal is for the benefit of the development of Georgia to reach every family;

That the benefit of inflow of investments reaches every family in terms of jobs and increased income;

 That the benefit of technological development reaches every family in terms of access to high level healthcare;

That the benefit of an open society reaches every family in terms of a right to directly elect the local leaders;

That the benefit of successful economic reforms reaches every family in terms of new opportunities and prospects;

The attainment of these goals will be a true and full-fledged freedom for us –it will be a true celebration and a genuine appreciation of our ancestors, who sacrificed their lives to the independence of Georgia…

We will continue to build new Georgia only in this manner…while we will not knee down in this building process, we will not stop, and we will not get tired…

And we will surely make it as great, as glorious and as beautiful as this new building of the Parliament.

As for the decentralization, it is not only about the abolishment of a division into centers and peripheries. I would like everyone in Georgia to feel that the center is precisely that place, where he lives – as the result of the carried out reforms for the good, for Kakheti to feel that it is the center; for Gldani to feel that it is the center in terms of the skilled and hard-working residents, economic activity; that Rustavi is the center, which is rising to its feet again and is acquiring even more importance than it ever had; that Batumi is already today becoming the most brilliant city of the Black seashore – the world wide center; for Svaneti, which had always been abandoned for the past 8 centuries, to become one of the significant centers of Europe in terms of tourism and renewed cultural activity; for the center of Tbilisi, where I was born and raised, to become even more glorious than it has ever been in its history; for the well forgotten Akhaltsikhe to become again and it is already becoming too, a new old center of trade between east and west and already today a center of touristic roads, which will reemerge in front of the world with all of its brilliance; the residents of Poti have to feel that Poti is one of the most important centers of the Silk Road from China to Europe and eventually have to live in a way, that corresponds to such status; for Lazika to become the new center of utmost importance;

That when our most aspired dream will come true – which I deeply believe in and moving of Parliament to Kutaisi serves this goal as well – Abkhazia and Abkhaz will restore the factual link with our common homeland, Sokhumi will become the new great center.   

 The creation of many great centers is the most solid foundation for unity, as everyone contributes with its share of responsibility, with its vital interest in the unity and fortitude of Georgia.

Empires have regarded our country as a marginal, kind, sometimes just for leisure, sometimes useful too, but still a marginal place for centuries. Georgia will never again be a periphery or a margin or a supplement.

Georgia will be a center for this region, which stretches from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, from Russia – to the Middle East. We already are a center of reforms from Tunisia to Moscow, from Vilnius – to Bishkek, for Kiev.

We are already being emulated; we are already becoming a center in terms of trade.

We will become a financial, educational, technological and cultural center of the region.

Our train does not stop here – our journey continues. Our speed will increase even more and no one will get us off this track. People have gotten the taste of dynamics and progress; people have gotten the taste of what it means that we should belong to ourselves; have gotten the taste of a non-corrupt environment, of unity and freedom.

The dark forces of the past, no matter how much money they pool, no matter what kind of lies they tell, no matter how they dream about destroying the bridge or suspending the construction of the new one, will not stop the accelerated journey of the Georgian people.  

Will not stop the journey towards progress, towards the equal distribution of power and responsibility, towards unity, towards the West and the East and i.e. as the result of all of this, towards itself, my dear fellow citizens, as this newly awakened force and newly discovered energy, is our organic part. We need a very simple thing, we just should not betray, we should be faithful to our ancestors, our legendary history, our self. Our slogan in the beginning was – to return Georgian. We had embarked on returning our country, our true Georgian self, our Europeaness and it is only the beginning. 

No matter what kind of misery we are in, no matter what kind of clouds are there today, we will overcome the poverty, we will disperse the clouds and we should know that the best days of Georgia and that of each one of us still lie ahead!

I congratulate you in the Independence Day of Georgia!

God bless us and our country!

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)