Mikheil Saakashvili: “You are the ambassadors of the Georgian statehood”


I would like to start our event with a pleasant activity.

The Olympiad in information technologies was held in Bulgaria and three of our students received Gold and Bronze medals.

This was an Eastern-European regional Olympiad, where the Eastern European countries Russia and Kazakhstan were taking part. Our children beat everyone and took first place.

It seems that information technologies have great prospects in Georgia.

You know that we were the first to build the “Intel” factory in the country. This factory produces computers that have written on them: “Made in Georgia”.

The schools that you went to are supplied with these computers.

There is also a perspective to substitute the details of these computers with Georgian produced components.

Besides this, we are building and starting to gradually open the new Batumi Technological University, in Batumi, near fall of next year.

Likewise, we are working to perfect the existing Technical University and faculty, to broadly develop the engineering and IT fields. While in schools we will promote learning of mathematics, physics and chemistry.

You know that we are starting to raise the salaries of people in these fields.

Thus, for us it is a very important direction of our joint work.

 I would like to award the winners of the International Olympiad with IPADS. These are: Nika Nadiradze – Gold Medal, Nikoloz Svanidze – Gold Medal and Jimsher Skhirtladze – Bronze Medal. While to their teacher Giorgi Mandaria we present a watch as a gift.

Those of you, who are gathered here today, teach the Georgian language to our citizens of different ethnic backgrounds.

When I met one some of you, I said it then too, you are the ambassadors of the Georgian statehood.

We have no bigger task today than the integration of groups of different ethnic backgrounds in Georgia, for them to have it embodied that they are an integral part of the state and for them to be engaged in the common state process.

Despite having a positive balance in recent years in the birth rate and migration compared to that of the other post soviet and eastern European countries; we are still a small country with a small population.

Everyone who lives in Georgia should be allowed to become an integral part of our country.

Georgia passed an exam on national toughness in 2008, on national unity. This is neither a legend nor fiction. For example, in the territory of Tskhinvali and Akhalgori, where the enemy’s tanks had entered then, the bulk of the population were ethnic Ossetians. The majority of them left their homes and today, the greatest part of those people, who live in camps for war affected people, are our citizens of Ossetian origin.

It is also very important that when the enemy entered Javakheti, it met there local special forces of the Georgian police, which by almost 100 percent consisted of local citizens of Armenian origin. Each one of them was ready to sacrifice their life to defend their own country, to defend Georgia.

There were Azeris, people of different religious beliefs residing in Georgia that fought in the Georgian army and sacrificed their lives. 

These stories are not propaganda– we are a small country and you can not invent this story – this is the reality.

This is what makes Georgia an entirely unique country.

In order to consolidate this we need to give these people a chance.

In order for these people to feel like full-fledged citizens of Georgia, you are the main source as you give them the knowledge of the Georgian language.

It has been several months that you have worked in these places. I know that you do not have a trouble free life and it is not easy work.

Despite development having started all across Georgia some villages where you work, certainly do not stand out with remarkable comfort.

I know that many of you live in very difficult conditions; I know that there are heating problems in many places, I also know that locals share their last bite with you, even though they are  often in great misery. But I know as well that these people receive you very well, as they absolutely want to learn the Georgian language and become a part of the Georgian state.

If I am asked what the biggest pride is for us, what we are proud of and what we have reached after the Rose revolution, I would say: Precisely this! This is overlooked quite often, but it is the most important thing.

These people have felt that they are citizens of the Georgian state and no matter how much the foreign forces try to take these people away from us, they will not succeed. They have tried many times to deprive us of this hold and bring down Georgia finally, but they never succeeded. I am very proud of it.

A large group of Georgian idealists will join you next year.

There are several thousands of Americans, Australians, and teachers from New Zealand that have arrived here, and work without salaries.

This does not surprise me at all, as we have similar idealists in Georgia – even more desirous, more motivated and more special.

Perhaps, some might even get angry, but you truly are the best Georgians – you have given up everything and dedicate yourselves to this job.

You have gone to a totally alien environment and perhaps, even felt discomfort, but you know what you are doing this for.

This is what real dedication is all about. 

These kinds of Georgians have always lived, but today’s enthusiasts come from the Rose Revolution climate.

They have a feeling of new Georgia, which means that no one can take us back to the Soviet Union – new Georgia has been created, which is founded on entirely different ideals and which is guided by an entirely different motivation.

We were divided by ethnicity before. This was the psychology of the Soviet regime, the last breath of which we have witnessed, at least, in light of the recent developments and the processes that have infolded in our neighborhood.

We will never go back to the Soviet Union, for the reason that with your help a new Georgian army with numerous soldiers has been created.

It is now important to solve your problems.

We are now building roads everywhere including in Javakheti. What is important is that the regions, which were isolated as a separate continent because of a bad road, are already connected to the common road. You have seen that yourselves.

It took 6-7 hours to get there before. With the main road, we now get to Akhalkalaki first, then to Ninotsminda and it takes less than two hours.

This is an inconceivable, truly historic breakthrough.

When certain politicians pose a question: what are these roads for? I would like to respond: one of the main motivations is the unification of Georgia.

 Along with this, we will, of course, get to every village by a nice road and there should not be a single village in Georgia with worse living conditions than that in the city.

You see that we are building hospitals everywhere, of which comparisons cannot even be found in many large cities of Europe.

We are building schools similar to those in Japan, Korea, America and Scandinavia.

 We are doing many things in cities, but first of all we care about villages.

We are a small country and not everyone should necessarily move from villages to the cities. It is possible for people to go to work from villages as well, as the industrial centers are being created across all of Georgia. We are creating new complex factories, there is an opportunity of movement, we are bringing natural gas everywhere, and we have installed high voltage transit lines…

In a nutshell, we are creating new centers where people will have the opportunity to find employment.

One of the centers like this, in fact, will be in Javakheti, as a huge railway hub is being built there, which will connect the Georgian railway with the European railway next year.

Because of this, everything is developing at a fast pace there.

We entered there with two roads; one is a real asphalt road, while the other is a road of development. With your help, we “entered”: with the third road as well that is most important. Because of this each one of you is the builder of roads.

As regards the books, bilingual books have been issued for the first time this year.

The books were imported from neighboring countries before (Armenian, Azeri…) and we had to study according to the program that was used, e.g. in the Armenian and Azeri schools. 

 We have already published bilingual books – in Georgian and Azeri, in Georgian and Armenian. This does not only concern Georgian language books. The books in all subjects are bilingual.

From first to sixth grade inclusive the books will be distributed this year, while we will have books for 7th to 11th grades next year.

This problem will be fully solved by the next year.

I would like to tell you that I have received the New Year’s wishes that children have written in the Georgian language.

We will still continue this program especially when the number of people is doubling.

We tried many things in previous years and came to the conclusion that we need to give opportunities to the youth, to the greatest idealists and enthusiasts.

I have rarely seen bright eyes like yours. Though, of course experience is very important.

In fact, we are implementing the teachers’ certification program now and at the meetings with the population, especially during the opening of the hospitals there will be many certified pedagogues present.

Among the pedagogues of different generations there are some who need training, who want to be able to teach better.  

Our people are very intelligent and I am very delighted that positions are being filled by the young teachers. This is very important.

We need people that are familiar with new technologies.

We have just now awarded the students; some foreign embassies have even issued grants and expressed willingness to take Georgian students abroad to pursue studies in information technologies. 

Everyone has learned that we have very smart children in Georgia, but your own country needs you – there will be adequate conditions here as well.

There will be the best living conditions in Georgia. The progress is already visible, but because of many factors, in a few years everything will be much better than in other developed countries.

Perhaps, the average income is not as much as that in a developed country, but the specialists of information technologies and other spheres will have very high wages and what is most important, they will be in their own country.   

 The pace if today’s computerization does indeed make it possible.

We will give you the grants, we will finance you, we will send you abroad for studies and we will know that you do not owe anyone except for your own country.

Everyone has discovered today, even America that they do not have specialists in information technologies anymore – everyone has chosen juridical and economic fields. 

When I studied in America, the lawyers made money from nothing and of course, everyone chose the juridical faculty.

The Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Asians and representatives of other countries went to America and acquired non-prestigious specialties there, but when these specialties became prestigious, they returned to their countries and America was left without specialists.

We also need these kinds of skilled people. We are friends with all countries, but we have no specialists to lose. Our youth had several proposals, but I am glad that everyone had refused to leave.

Our people should stay in Georgia.

They say often that the country has emptied out and everything we build is in vain. This is not so.

Georgia has a positive balance of migration – more people return than leave each year.

Certainly there are some who are still leaving the country, but a great number is coming back. What is most important is that the youth are not leaving.

This is a very important breakthrough for us. Here, you are not leaving the country as well, are you?

A great number of our citizens with different ethnic origins used to leave Georgia before, but this is not the case today. They have found other advantages, found a perspective to live in the best, to live in the most exemplary country across the post soviet space. 

They can proudly tell the other countries’ citizens of the same ethnic origin today: We live in Georgia and we are Georgians”.

They have at the same time felt a sense of pride, which will integrate Georgia.

It is obvious that people are still in hardship; certainly there are many people, who have the feeling of a lack of perspective, but the bulk of the population has found hope and we need to turn this hope into reality together.

For some foreigners that we have invited to teach English, interaction with other countries circumstances is to a certain extent a cultural shock. Of course, I am not saying this for comparison, as you do not have to go through a similar cultural experience, yet every region of Georgia and every ethnic group has certain nuances. Getting familiar with these nuances makes the relationship even more intense.

I meet youth very often and it is interesting that the accent of their Georgian, which in fact, I find very enjoyable and even encouraging, has almost disappeared. This happens because the youth travel a lot; communicate with each other through the internet and the unification of language takes place. 

You can observe it yourselves; the youth of 17, 18, and 19 almost have no accent. I personally find these accents as our wealth, but this indicates that the integration and unification is taking place.

In fact, this should not only concern ethnic Georgians – this should also concern the representatives of different ethnic groups.

The process that is ongoing today in front of you indeed is historic and revolutionary. What is chief, is for the national organism to be strong and healthy, so that it is immune to all kinds of interventions.

I was in Batumi in October, it was still warm. The bus stopped and children got out – they would have been seniors. They were taking photos and had a slight accent when they spoke. I inquired and it turned out that they were from one of the villages of Marneuli. I was amazed – everyone spoke Georgian.

In fact, this is not the result of this program yet. This just means that they already have willingness and aspiration towards the Georgian language introduced, which is very important.

What each one of you has described at this meeting is a historic process, which all of us together are part of. You can boldly tell your grandchildren that we have integrated Georgian into a single national organism and we have played a decisive role in this job. Many would find it inconceivable.

I know very well, when we started our work in this direction after the “rose revolution” in every region that you work, different international organizations had allocated many grants on the conflict and war topics. They anticipated on a daily basis when we would clash with each other, when we would blow up and when the country would finally dismantle based on the scenario, which Vladimir Zhirinovski has repeatedly described. 

They have been disappointed – all of these organizations are closed currently, while every grant has been canceled.

If we disregard the occupation, Georgia is not on the map of conflicts anymore.

The theme of occupation is much more extensive. The work you have done in the occupied territories has a huge resonance.

The population is basically missing in Tskhinvali, yet they are alleging themselves that there are 17 thousand residents. Unfortunately, there might not even be a third of the 17 thousand left, but no matter how many are left; each one of them is precious to us. 

There are about 80-90 thousand people in Abkhazia and each one of them is very important to us.

They very well know and increasingly understand everything as to what you contribute to the integration process.

I would like to once again greatly thank you for being present here.

I would like to wish you a happy New Year and tell you that what you do is a great gift for me.

The fact that you have not been startled by the worst conditions and continue the work you have begun is very important for me. You will make everything possible in life. 

Thank you very much.

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