Speeches & Statements

President of Georgia Addressed to the Georgian Society 

My dear fellow citizens

My second term as President is nearing its end, and as the result of yesterday’s elections are already known to us, this is probably the last time I am addressing the nation from this very office.

I would like to thank all of you, citizens of our beloved Georgia, for the opportunity you gave me twice to serve our nation as President.

There is no higher honor than to serve your nation.

There is no bigger chance in life than to be able to help it develop and progress.

I want to thank you and to reflect with you on what we have achieved together and what remains to be achieved, the road we have accomplished and the road that lies ahead of us, the obstacles we have overcome and the problems that our nation still has to solve.

I want to address you in full trust, humbly share my deepest thoughts and my emotion also, open my heart and soul,.

Let us all mark a pause in our daily political routine, let us forget for few minutes our fights, our confrontations, our polemics and let us think together about what these last 10 years have changed, what they mean, what they were preceded by and what they should be followed by.

Let us forget for few minutes our political belonging, religious and ethnic differences and think about what it means to be Georgian, what it meant 10 years ago, what it means today and what it should mean in the times to come.

We have nothing to divide, we are all the children of Georgia and we all love our nation. But this is not enough to toast for it at a supra, we have to ask ourselves what it means to be Georgian, what the love of our nation commands us to do.

Since I have entered the adult age, I have been driven by the quest for a new definition of what it means to be Georgian, what it means to belong to this nation, a quest for a definition of the Georgian identity that would be inclusive enough to unite and unify our so often and so deeply divided nation, a definition that would be progressive enough to allow us to join back inevatbly the European family of free nations, our family.

People from my generation have all been marked and shaped by the years of civil war, these times of divisions and hatred, when everybody was against everybody, when the nation of David the Builder, the nation of Queen Tamar, the nation of Ilya Chavchavadze came close to full implosion and total self-destruction because of intolerance, anger, incompetence and corruption. 

My quest started then, in the heart of the Georgian darkness, when people would be ready to kill their neighbor because he had another ethnicity, rob their cousins because he had found a better job, beat their fellow citizen because he had a different hair cut or the wrong sweat shirt or watched in a different manner…

And when I was studying law in Europe and in the US, I had only one thing in mind: to understand what was working in these developed places that was failing at home.

It was the hardest period for Georgia.

Then I decided to leave my job as a lawyer in New York and came back to Georgia to compete for Parliament. The same quest and the first responses I had found to my questions were driving me.

I never overestimated my capacities, but neither I ever believed in the fatality of darkness.

It thought that altogether we could make a difference for Georgia.

What was possible in the West - the government by the people for the people, the open and creative economy, the rule of law and the cohabitation of ethnicities, religions, rival political parties and social backgrounds in an open and peaceful society – I thought it was possible in Georgia too.

It had to be possible because it had existed here already.

It had to be possible because the people of Georgia really, honestly, deeply, fundamentally wished it.

When we created the National Movement, the idea, the goal, the essence of our project was precisely to give a new meaning to this word: “national”, to make it an inclusive word and not an exclusive one anymore.

It was to revive patriotism in our pessimistic society, to revive the hope in our common future, the hope in our country, the hope in ourselves.

And, despite mistakes, shortcomings, setbacks, this is what we have done altogether during these past years.

We have revived the hopes, shaped a new form of patriotism, regained long-lost feeling of national pride that unites instead of dividing, that does not look at your name or your faith before making you feel proud to be a citizen of Georgia, proud of yourself and proud of your State.

I’ll never forget the days after the Rose Revolution, when we arrived in these dark government offices still smelling sovietism, I remember what we have found there: nothing, we have found simply nothing but ghosts of the past and empty space - There was no budget, no money to pay salaries or pensions… There was nothing at all but Russian mikes and bureaucratic greed…

I remember I saw a barrel of water in the office of my predecessor, because often there was no water supply, I saw an electric power generator, because power was often disconnected and  cat, because the office was full of rats and mice then. I remember we looked at each other and regretted for a second that we had ever entered in these offices.

But this quest was driving us and pushed us to start our reforms right away. This quest and the eyes, the smiles, the words of so many people who trusted us, who pushed us, who made us work days and nights.

And, 10 years after, the new ministers and the new President are entering very different offices, rule a very different State, take responsibility of very different institutions.

Even the fiercest critics of the National Movement or of my personality among them cannot deny this. They cannot and should not deny it, because it is the common work and the common property of the whole nation, of all of you. This our House, built by all of us for all of us.

Whatever we did, you did, whatever we achieved, you achieved.

Being president, does not mean to be somebody, being a president means to do something. You, the multi-ethnic nation of Georgia are the source of power and legitimacy, you are the beginning and you are the goal. You , the children of Georgia were, are and will always be the main power, you cannot be an instrument in the hands of domestic or foreign masters or a toy of a billionaire. Please never forget it, do not let anybody confiscate this from you. Never forget your power, and therefore your responsibility towards your nation, towards your children.
And I want now to humbly ask you to mark a pause and think for yourself, by yourself, each of you, making abstraction of the social pressure or the political fashions, I want you to ask yourselves these questions: aren’t we better off now than 10 years ago? Haven’t we, all together, changed our nation for the better? Are pensions paid and electricity delivered, water supplied and safety provided? And was it the case before? Are not we currently changing governments or presidents by elections while we used to change them through coups or revolutions? Is our State stronger or weaker than before? Is corruption higher or lower? Havenot we uprooted the institute of  thieves in law? Are our children growing up in a nicer or worse environment than we have grown up in the 80s or the 90s? Are our cities more, or less beautiful? Are we closer or further from our European destiny? Is it easier, is it happier to be a citizen of Georgia or not?

I want you, each of you to find in yourself the responses to these questions.

I have spoken in the past about the many progress we have made so I will not list them again today.

But I want you to look in yourself and respond frankly to all these questions.

And then, because we are in Georgia, I want all of you to discuss about it at the diner table, where my friends know that I forbade them to make toasts for me, an share your thoughts and debate together how all of us can make a difference for our country.

My dear friends,

More than a revolution, what has happened in Georgia is a rediscovery. We have rediscovered in our History and in ourselves that we were not sentenced to be angry, sad, pessimistic, corrupt or dependent on a foreign master, that we had in our past and in our heart the roots for freedom, love, optimism, tolerance and independence.

We have rediscovered what had allowed our nation to shine so many times and survive so many underscribable problems.

We have entered resolutely in the future by reviving our past, our glorious past, not the servile and the shameful one that some want to rehabilitate nowadays.

Some might rebuild statues to Stalin, but what we have done all together is to revitalite the spirit of our founding fathers

These fathers were poets, philosophers, kings or priests. Not oppressors, not communists, not traitors. They did not create gulags, they did not rule us from Moscow. They gave their heart, spirit, soul, talent to the cause of a better and freer Georgia.

It’s time to stop asking one and the same rhetoric question – Shall we be saved? And to stop useful singing of the famous stanzas, which were in fact the anthems of the 90-ies: ‘If present is no mercy for us, the future will be for sure’, because we should look at both present and future with justified optimism and relyable hope.

This is not about building statues, this is about building the nation that corresponds to their vision, their heart and their souls.

Statues of Stalin will soon once and forever vanish in the garbage of History where they belong, while the spirit of Ilia Chavchavadze, Vazha Pshavela, Mikhako Tsereteli, Kakutsa Cholokashvili, Ambrosi Khelaia will continue to preside over the destiny of our nation.

Together, we have gone through tempests, storms and even survived in fact the tsunami of 2008 invasion.

We have gone through what other nations could not survive and still we have continued to build, to grow, to progress.

The high speed of my work irritates some of you, but please, you should understand me, because I always felt the horrifying breath of the past behind me. The past was chasing and bombing us, but we were still looking at the future with the faith and the hopes of the most stubborn lovers. Because we are all in love with our nation.

My friends, we have survived what we should have perished from, first thanks to the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen heroes.

There is not one single day during which I don’t think about this young boys killed by the invaders in 2008.  We should not waste their bravery and sacrifice, don’t give the conqueror without fight what they failed to gain in battle.

And, in this solemn occasion, in this moment of sharing, I want to ask you once more to go beyond your political differences, to reject in the darkness the recent and sterile polemics, and to unite in paying tribute to our fallen heroes, to think about them and about their families that are missing them so much.

I want all of us to share now the burden of these wives, children and parents who have lost the dearest person in their life.

I want us to show how proud we are of them, I want our whole life, our actions to be directed by this very thought: wherever they are, let us act so that they can be proud of us too.

I always say that Giorgi Antsukhlidze is the symbol of Geogian heroism,  Georgian inexorability, the symbol of that Georgia, beautiful and brave, on the back of which conqueror jumps but still fails to make him bend down. But now I want to tell you few words about his mother, Mrs. Lili, what I have not said so far. When I met her for the first time, I could not hold my tears, but she did not cry. She told me that everything that was done for making Georgia stronger since that day,  would be done for the honor and respect of Giorgi. She asked only one thing – to help some of their relatives in starting service in Georgian army. This happened in the days when she was mourning the greatest loss of her life amid gravest social circumstances; it happened in the days, when she was sheltered by her relatives and only afterwards I learnt that she did not have her own home and she did not tell me that…

A nation is shaped by a common attachment, a visceral attachment to its heroes and its dead.

A nation is shaped by the mothers, who bring up heros to the homeland.

It is also shaped by individual vision of each of us, which is formd into a common project.

My fellow citizens, ten years ago I offered you to make a journey in the future, but I did not promise you that we should reach the point of our final destination by all means and that we’d stop at each station duly in time. This future is today and it is all yours my fellow citizens, you are in charge of our common journey, a journey that did not and that cannot be stopped.

We have passed very important steps on this journey and you have to go on looking forward rather than backward. I will always stand by you on this amazing journey towards our progress.

Let us ask ourselves what do we want for our country, for our children.

We all want a prosperous nation, right?

A nation that allows every family to be a shelter for our elderly and our youngsters, a home that can sustain itself through work and salary. We want employment and decent life for everybody.

In the first days of my presidency, one self-taught painter presented me with a picture of a married coupe, two lovely pensioners on the background of empty kitchen cupboard. He told me – now this cupboard is empty and it’s up to your presidency whether it is filled in the future. Since then that picture is hanging on my wall and I never forget the words of the painter. That cupboard is probably only partly filled even today, because I know it for sure that we still have much to work to make it completely full.

In the last 10 years, our economy has grown spectacularly, investments have come, new opportunities have emerged. But still too many people live in property and too many fathers or mothers cannot find a decent employment. Much has been done, much more needs to be done. Please, do not let easy or populistic solutions destroy the medium term future of our economy. Economy needs openness, investments, foreigners to come and inject money, small or big. Do not prevent them from coming, invite them on the contrary and welcome them.

We all want peace for our nation right?

We have built a sovereign State against the odds, we have expelled Russian spies from our security apparatus, we have secured amazingly good relations with NATO and EU, but we still have huge problems with our northern neighbor.

We need to talk to them obviously, we need peace. But absence of war does not necessarily mean presence of peace. Peace cannot be exchanged on the slavery to the conqueror and peace cannot be bought on the expense of independence.

Please, don’t allow anybody to sacrifice our sovereignty, don’t allow the spies to come back, don’t give up ever ever on NATO and EU. Because giving in does not bring peace, it brings dependence and chaos. Only a strong and Western integrated Georgia will build peace with Russia.

We all want a united nation, right?

When we arrived in power, Georgia was a divided nation, Adjara was ruled by a local satrap, the Armenian minority district was abandonned by the central government. That time government did its best for making Samegrelo and other regions alien. The Pankisi Gorge was in fact out of conrol... We have reunited the people by winning the hearts and souls of those who felt excluded. Russian occupation did not allow us to do the same with our Abkhaz and Ossetian friends. But Russian occupation will end one day for many reasons and we will be reunited. If and only if we manage to develop an attractive model, an open and tolerant nation.

Those who tell you to attack your Muslim cousins or to insult your Armenian brothers, those are the enemies of Georgian unity and reunification, they are playing the game of Russia. Please do not let them contaminate your spirit. We are tolerant, we need to be tolerant and open to differences. Or we will die. Or lose our statehood and end up as a divided corpse in the Eurasian Union, which is the same. What does it bring to our faith or our name to assault a neighbor because he does not share the same faith or has a different patronym? It brings nothing, but collapse and shame…

We all want a democratic nation, right?

We have built a system in which elections and not coups are bringing new governments, we have shaped a new parliamentary Republic, we have given back the power to the people. Mistakes were made for sure. But why all these arrests, why all theses prosecutions, why all this violence? Do we want to lose what was built by letting anger dominate our actions and enter in a new vicious cycle of tit for tats and revenges? Some people are carefully pushing for this. And these people are not your friends, even if some of you might follow them. We will see where all of this will lead our nation, but I ask you, for the last time as your President, to carefully consider what is going on and to wonder wether this is helpful to you and to your nation. We need democracy and stability, not cycles of retributions and anger.

We all want a European Georgia, right?

I remember my first trips to Brussels or Washington as newly elected President. People would smile with compassion when I was speaking about our European and transatlantic future. Nobody is smiling anymore, nobody has compassion anymore. We are closer than ever from our European destiny. President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Tusk, the European Parliament, our Baltic friends, I don’t count anymore the European leaders who spoke about our perspective of joining the European Union. So it is not time for us, Georgians, to speak about Eurasian Union... Please do not make the mistake our people have made in the past.

My fellow citizens, never halt, never go back.

On our way towards progress, prosperity and Europe, we have made mistakes, cut corners and we were sometimes too strict. I want to apologize to all those people, who became a victim of injustice and humiliation. I regret that sometimes I had exaggerated trust of the authorities in the ministry of internal affairs and the prosecutor’s office. I already told you that I was too hasty and inpatient and friends called me to be calmer. In our desire to ensure the safety of all citizens, we have developed a zero tolerance policy that has sent too many people to prison. In our wish to reform quickly the country, we have overlooked the necessary concertation with people who opposed the changes or had a different view on them. Our reform of the judiciary was too slow and our reform of the education was not deep enough. I take full responsibility for all of that.

But I will never apologize for having wanted to give back its pride and its power to our nation – to quote the words by Ilia, ‘ourselves belong to ourselves’. I will never apologize for having destroyed organized crime and root out corrupt elite, for having built new cities and traveled the world to plead our common cause against powerful enemies. And I will always be proud of what we have accomplished together.


I will always be humbled by the commitment and the dedication of our team. Here are young and bright people who could have made money in business or live an easy life working for international organization, and they gave everything for their country. And now many of them are facing now threats and prosecutions. And I want to tell them that I sincerely, absolutely love them and I will always appreciate the meaningful moments of our cooperation. There is no need to reiterate that I will always stand by their side.

I was at one of the Batumi cafes recently. A young lady came to my table to take a photo with me and told me her story. She is the director of one of the insurance companies. She told me that since the Rose Revolution she was promoted, many of her friends and peers were appointed at official positions in the government. She said that appointment of so young people at such positions causes confusion and tension with elder colleagues. Of course, we reman young regardless of our positions. We were emotional, we hadhad disputes,  made some crazy things, and maybe we did not match the stereotypes of high rank officials, but this girl told me – we could rapidly succeed in our business only with such crazyness of the youth.

And this is true. I and our majority were brought up in a non-free country,that’s why each next generation is better. Even if it was a very unpopular step, I do not regret for a second that I gave green light to youth in every sphere.

There emerged the generaion of ‘Misha’s times’,  the young people of “Misha’s times” at the state offices, who studied at higher universities by passing united entrance exams.

My fellow citizens,

When we came to power, several myths mostly invented by conquereros, were deeply rooted about Georgia – Geogians are good in dancing and singing, at supra, that they are very corrupt and criminal peple; they can never unite and be organized, moreover, they can never organize a state – they are good in others’ business, but traitors and cowards in their own business; they are not so much brilliant in other fields either.

In these years, we tried to change Georgia and change the stereotypes about it. Meanwhile, we not only changed Georgia, but the whole post-Soviet space – we have had a very serious influence on many other countries.

My dear compatriots,

Those of you, who visited Kiev, Bishkek, Baku, Yerevan or even Moscow in recent years,  you know how they talk about Georgian reforms, Georgian miracle with kind envy and excitement. They say that this small nation could survive a pressure by a hundred times larger state and large-scale military intervention. Despite  energy and economic embargo, world crisis, domestic disorder and stumbling, the country could go forward, could construct new wonderful cities, combat corruption and crime.

Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine, attended my public speech in Kiev recently. This man helped us to evacuate people in Abkhazia in 1993 and he was one of the signees of the document on the collapse of the Soviet Union. He told me:  'People used to stop me in the street, at markets and ask why I collapsed this wonderful country the "Soviet Union". I always answered: Do you know why?  - because there appear countries like Georgia and we'll become of the kind soon'

I was in Cairo in March on holidays together with my family. Four ministers of the Egypt’s government of that period came to the hotel and asked my autograph for the book on Georgian reforms translated into Arabian language.

Does it mean nothing to you that Medvedev, who threatened to raze Georgia and the whole world to the ground in 2008, had to admit publicly in 2012 that from the point of view of reforms, Russia should imitate Georgia, and the Russian opposition leader Navalnni, who called us ‘rodents’ instead of Georgians, said last years that the dreaming model for the future of Russia was Hong-Kong, Singapore and Georgia. Does it mean nothing to you that tourists, for whom we opened the border unilaterally, are so excited with Georgia.

FFor all these we became valuable for the rest of the world and we must not lose this. We somehow got accustomed that a nation, which could be hardly found on the map, was the place of the visit of US president George Bush, who danced Georgian dances and called the country the beacon for the world; we got accustomed that Europe’s main leader president Sarkozy opened his election campaign by his speech in Tbilisi. This experience turned out fruitfull in our hard days.


In 2008, when Russian tanks were heading to Tbilisi, Russian leadership told Frech and American leaders that their goal was to seize Tbilisi, destroy Georgia and kill me. They notified me that the US government was prepared to evacuate me. One of the European diplomats told me that Russians agreed to open Georgian air space temporarily to let the plane of my family, my government members leave Georgia.Then I had a reflection of 1921 developments, when Georgian government fled Georgia. Hoping that all this would soon end, I said that I would better die in my homeland than to live abroad. I remembered Winston Churchil, - never, never, never give up. Since then I carry a coulomb with engraved words by Churchil: “never, never, never give up…”

We of couse I have too many plans left unmplemented. I often used to say and this it true that I often see Sokhumi in my deams. For me,  Sokhumi is the ideal Georgian city – beautiful, warm, populated with people of various ethnicities and faiths,who live in full harmony, where talent and honesty is appreciated and where people make miracles by their work.

That kind of Sokhumi no longer exists, because the agressor destroyed it temporarily.  Russia’s departure from Sokhumi is inevitable and we’ll see our dream made true. But before that I started building Lazika. According to my plan, Lazika would be a city of the same kind – successful, focused on future, populated with hard-working people from all corners of Georgia and our compatriots returned from abroad. A city whre people get promoted by their talent and work and not by nepotism and friendly relations; a city, where nobody would be oppressed unfairly. These people would have to join their experience and create a new miracle of Georgia to astonish the rest of the world.

Creation of this miracle, as well as my dream,which was almost made true, was recently suspended – the project of Batumi American Technological University, whih would lay a foundament to new educational system of Georgia, was adjourned, but I believe that it will be ended by all means and if I cannot finish it, it will be ended by the youth of ‘Misha’s times’.

During past ten years, I did not stop to work even for a second for the interests of our nation an all of you. I can say that I have been in most of the villages and distrits of the cities and I visited many families and I did not get tired and I will not get tired, wherever I am, I will continue to work. I don’t need rest, but the time has come that you need rest from me. But we should never forget that in the process of fighting for the freedom and the progress of our country, as a nation we have no time for rest now, and we’ll not have time for rest in the future.

When I was passing entry exams for Kiev University in Tbilisi, on the second day I was waiting for the results of the tests outside an  it was announced that I was enrolled only by one examination as a holder of a gold medal. I rushed on the stairs of the higher building of the Tbilisi university and at the end of the stairs I fell. A policeman standing there helped me get up and told me the words, which I will never forget – he said – the fall does not matter but it really matters that you get up again and now you are beginning everything a new, the best is yet to come.

We have still a long way to go before we reach our final port, nothing is decided yet and the seas we have to cross might again be stormy and hostile. There will be falls and rises. I believe that Georgia still has its date with its bright future ahead.

I will always be on your side, with you, in different capacities and from a different office. But I will always remain what I have never ceased to be: a proud citizen of a proud nation, one of you, one among all of you, my brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of our beloved Georgia.

I have been receiving numerous letters of gratitude on facebook and other sources from many of you, but the day has come when I want to thank you again and for the last time.

I am extremely grateful and humble before all of you..

Thank you, thank you for everything and long live to a free, democratic and independent Georgia.



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