Mikheil Saakashvili: “We respect people’s free will and the freedom of choice”



I welcome the governors, the chairman of the government of Adjara autonomy, the mayors of cities, including the Mayor of Batumi, Kutaisi and Poti.

Periodic gatherings and discussions on important issues is very important for us.

There is summer ahead, but we neither stop working in summer, nor in any other period – there is an epoch of great reconstruction in Georgia and we have no right not to work tirelessly.

Certainly, there is no uniform attitude towards what is happening in Georgia. For instance, one lady wrote to me in a social network that it is good to have electricity, gas and fountains in the 21st century, but she did not agree to the money being spent on it from the budget. The problem is that this lady missed one thing – beyond these fountains new cities have been built in Georgia.

Batumi is an entirely new city; Anaklia is an entirely new resort; we can say that Kutaisi as well will be a completely new city in 2-3 years; the center of Tbilisi is being entirely renovated; Sighnaghi is a totally new city; Telavi will basically be a new city by September or will be on this track; Kvareli is being renovated; Lazika will surely be built and those who ridiculed the construction of Anaklia two years ago, or awkwardly recalled Batumi, were made to take their word back and change their skeptical attitude.

The principal thing is that beyond cities we have created an entirely new healthcare system, which will be accessible for every citizen of Georgia; we have to establish a universal healthcare system.  

Similarly, we are creating a completely new education system. Not only are our schools no longer what they used to be like 10 years ago, but they are becoming the best across the whole region.

We are building new universities. I met the students of the Batumi Maritime Academy today, there is a new academy being built with its thousands of students, and there is also a new technological university being built, which will open in September.

The campuses will be situated in Batumi and one will be located in Tbilisi as well.

We have created a large network of technical study institutions, which grant people of such professions that 80 percent of its graduates will get quite highly paid jobs in the first months.

Our railway will no longer be a jam – through the Tbilisi-Kars-Akalkalaki railway we will connect with the China-London railway, and we will become its significant hub. It is of historic, epochal importance.

Georgia will have an express railway and it will take us 3 and one half hours to get from Tbilisi to Batumi. It is an unbelievable breakthrough.

We are building new airports – We have built a Batumi international airport and also a small one in Mestia.

Besides this, we are beginning the modernization of the Telavi Airport, we will begin the construction of the Poti Airport, the Kutaisi Airport will open in September, and we have to surely start the construction of an airport in Guria, in particular, in the village of Meria.

In terms of airports, Georgia will be one of the best developed countries in the world, as it is our function – we are located in a very important geographical center and we need to have good communications in all directions.

All of this is not being done in order for us to show off, and we do not want this just to attract foreign tourists. First of all, all of this work aims to improve the lives of each one of you.

Although, the poverty has diminished in Georgia, we should never forget that there still is an unbelievable level of poverty in Georgia.

Despite the fact that we insure people, assist the socially vulnerable with money for food and a minimal amount, certainly the problem persists in this regard in Georgia, and it is very important that each member of our government works precisely for this category of people.

First of all, our care should be directed to these people and we have to understand that no one should get the feeling of unfairness.

No one should get a feeling that he was unfairly treated by the social worker; that any of them were mistakenly taken off of the list of socially vulnerable;

No one should think that anyone – any commercial bank, any commercial structure or even its neighbor has abused their vulnerability.

We have to be a proactive government, which will protect the most vulnerable people of the society.

This is the essence of what we are doing, for Georgia to become a just society.

We have built the Justice Houses – it is very nice and the whole world likes it, but first of all, the main thing for me is that our citizens like it.

Just as the Justice House is transparent and simple in terms of service, exactly the same has to be the case for every local administration my friends.

This is the model of what the work of every city hall, municipality and city council has to be like tomorrow, which should entirely spillover to yours and every administration.

There will be parliamentary elections held in Georgia in few months.

We have faced numerous critical challenges in the recent past, the challenge of which further development of our country had depended. 

Georgian people have dealt with each such challenge, each such decisive moment with the demonstration of great civil dignity and patriotic attitude.

They have handled it so that at the same time they proved their unconditional faithfulness towards statehood and democratic values.

The upcoming elections will be another decisive historical moment for us. It will then be decided whether Georgia will cross the Rubicon, from which no one will reverse.  

I am convinced that our society will once again surprise the whole world with its political maturity, with its love of democracy and freedom just like it has done numerous times in the recent past.

What is at stake with these elections is absolutely crucial for our country and our people: from the corruption free economic course- to the Euro-Atlantic integration; from the universal healthcare system accessible for everyone – to the development of agriculture.

That is why these elections obliges each one of us, people on every level of authority – starting from the President finishing with the governor, to maintain unconditional faithfulness to democracy and principles of fairness and make sure that the election process is indeed exemplary.

I, as your president, as the guarantor of constitution and strength of the democratic institutions, which we all have built together, would like to deliver a few messages to you today.

The first message is very simple, and it should be easy for everyone to comprehend – I will not allow anyone to question the credibility of our democratic institutions. I will personally ensure that any attempt of bribery and fraud of the elections process is punished with the most severe punishment. 

We have built a system together during the past 8 years, within which everyone has to abide by the rule of law; the law stands above everyone and everything, regardless of social status, wealth or political affiliation, regardless of a person’s name and their past.

Georgian people know this very well and that is why they trust these institutions more than any other individual or political movement.  

For instance, in the case of the police… people trust the police as everyone knows that – the police is interested in whether you have breached a law and not in who you are and where you come from.

Precisely this is the solid foundation of statehood –what we have fought for so much up to now.

Representatives of certain political movements have thought during the past months that it is possible to attack the lawfulness and principles of fair elections through reckless aggression.

They have attempted to undermine the ability of the Georgian State – to defend the right to freedom of choice of its citizens.

They have learned themselves, and everyone should know that such attempts will not succeed! Every single attempt will be persecuted by the law.

No one will succeed in bribing the election process or buying the Georgian democracy.

The Georgian State will defend and ensure the right of every one of our citizens to make a democratic and free choice.

Dear friends,

Our state institutions and principally, the confidence which exists towards these institutions, we have built precisely by the fact that our fight was totally uncompromising against those who thought that they were above the law and the people.

Remember how they had acted not so long ago.

Remember, how they used to reign at the expense of our lives.

And also remember, how we have forced every one of them, through the zero tolerance principle, to obey to the law and stand responsible before the people and justice.

They try to doubt this, but the zero tolerance principle was there then, and will always remain and our irreconcilable course towards those who disregard law, will still continue.

Everyone has to realize this.

And when certain forces are trying with excessive efforts to buy our democracy – our answer to them would be two fold – on the one hand, their attempts will be checked by the proportional force of the law enforcement system, while on the other hand, their attempts will be countered by our excessive, disproportionate will for the upcoming elections to be open, transparent and democratic to the maximum extent possible.

We will all, and personally, I will make sure that every political force acts with equal opportunities and that the whole electoral political process is conducted on the evident arena, which is called societal discussion, societal debates.

Some are trying today to portray Georgia as if there are autocrats sitting in this building and are silencing people. There is no restriction in Georgia, is there? Don’t we go outside? Everyone can express their own opinion and we will all be proof of it. Personally, I will always accept your opinion – this is exactly what the free debates are about. 

This arena will be unlimitedly accessible for all of our citizens.

We, in difference from those who try to bribe people’s choice, believe in people.

We believe and respect the free will of the people and freedom of choice.

We want them to make the most informed and realized choice.

That is why, we completely support the parliament’s legislative initiative, according to which every single cable network of Georgian has to make the compulsory transmission of all information TV channels during the pre-election period.

Imposition of this obligation on private companies, of course, is a certain restriction of free market principles, we did the same with regard to advertisements – there are so many free political advertisements…but access to all kinds of information from our people during the pre-election period – is the most important social interest.

This legislative initiative is equally accepted among the world’s most progressing and developed methods, the aim of which is to ensure the access to the media for the electorate.

This is another evident sign of the strength of the Georgian democracy and firmness of our statehood.

I am proud by the fact that we have together built the state institutions, which have the ability to react to huge challenges through even more openness of the system, instead of locking it further (as we often see it in our neighborhood).

The Georgian State will respond to the attack on our democracy with the strengthening of democracy and not its restriction.

Every attempt of subjugation of law will be countered, on the one hand, with strict law enforcement effort, while on the other, with the exemplary work of the state system to ensure that the election process is democratic.

I address all the representatives of the Georgian authorities on all levels.

Certain forces will attempt – they are already trying – to spread lies about your work.

That is why you should know that the best way to defeat lies – is by exemplary work.

Exemplary work to protect people’s freedom of choice; exemplary work so that no political force, including the one in authority, can exercise illegal influence over the will of the electorate; exemplary work to make sure that the administrative resources are not used for election purposes.   

Yet, the work of the government should not stop even for a second, as we have our plans and we cannot stop reconstruction.

The implementation of our plans of reconstruction neither began before the elections nor will it end with the elections. This process will continue even after the elections and it certainly is not accommodated to some kind of populist conjuncture. We have to realize it very well.

We have always done it and we must continue to do so, yet in a way that the administrative resources are not used in favor of any candidate.

We need exemplary work to protect democracy and hence, the future of Georgia.

This is my favor, as well and my categorical request to every state official.

As you are the chief guarantors of the rule of law, you are the force which protects the rights and freedoms of our citizens – including the right to conduct political campaigns – regardless of political worldview, religious or ethnic belonging.

As the head of the country, I am proud to have confidence in you that you will unreservedly protect the fundamental rights of our people in every region of Georgia, every village and city, every district and street. 

I am proud by the fact that I have confidence in you and the entire Georgian society.

The rule of law will be ensured! Our democracy will celebrate another victory!

Not only will we keep the chosen course towards prosperity and European integration, but the upcoming months will be a huge step forward in this direction – we have a real chance in 2014 to become a NATO member and this too will actually be decided in October.

That is why we have to work tirelessly, double our efforts in order to show everyone that people did not confide in you for nothing, and have hope in us. What is important is to show everyone – besides having an efficient state apparatus, we are just, open and democratic.

Let us be close to every citizen, our people, let us shoulder them and show that the common success of Georgian will be the success of each Georgian family, the progress of each Georgian family and realization of each Georgian family’s hopes.

Thank you very much, my friends.

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