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Saakashvili: We should build a prosperous country for our citizens

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Friday, September 12
“I personally assume all responsibility for the developments which preceded the Russian aggression in Georgia,” Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili stated on September 10, as he claimed he would make Georgia prosperous again and restore peace and stability in the country.

During his visit to Shida Kartli on Wednesday, where he met Gori residents and IDPs, the President explained that the Georgian Government could not organize a prior evacuation of Gori due to Russia’s rapid and powerful attack.

According to Saakashvili it was very hard for him to take the decision to withdraw Georgian troops from the city, and many Gori natives may think that the Government left them face to face with the enemy. He underlined however that through taking this decision Georgia and Gori prevented the complete destruction of the city and the creation of many more victims.

“Maybe the locals of Gori gained the impression that the Georgian Government had abandoned them. But if I had not made such a decision, nothing would have been left of the city. It was a very difficult decision. We had to leave Gori,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Meeting with local officials, Saakashvili ordered the rapid restoration of the region and gave a concrete plan of what must be done from now until winter. The Government has an 18 month rehabilitation plan for Shida Kartli. According to the President the first and the most important task is to give everyone shelter until winter, create good conditions for children to study and aid socially vulnerable people.

Saakashvili also said that the Government should move to the next stage of rehabilitating the region. “We should make Kartli the most successful and richest part of the Caucasus,” he said, and adding that Minister of Interior Affairs Vano Merabishvili will personally oversee the rehabilitation work in Shida Kartli.

According to Shida Kartli Governor Lado Vardzelashvili, 17 apartment blocks in Gori, home to about 1,020 people, had been damaged by the Russian aggression. Vardzelashvili said that in a month reconstruction works will be finished and the residents will be provided with gas, water and electricity.

The Governor told the President that 11 buildings damaged in Kareli and Kaspi will be repaired soon. Vardzelashvili says that in the villages controlled by Georgia 98 houses have been repaired and when the work is complete about 20,000 IDPs will be able to return to their homes.

Saakashvili also stressed the importance of taking measures to control the allocation of relief aid. According to the Georgian President, the Anti-Crisis Group should be involved in this process together with the Government. The group should include opposition members and representatives of the wider public. "We should rebuild the country together and show aggressors that Georgia is united and effective," Saakashvili emphasized.

According to Saakashvili, along with financial compensation the issue of the employment of the region’s population should also soon be settled. "Various enterprises will effectively operate in this region. After the agreement on free trade with the EU is signed and the double taxation avoidance agreement between Georgia and USA concluded, Georgian produce will be exported to the USA and the European countries," Saakashvili said. He added that investor confidence would be restored in two or three months and the Government-run 50-month national development programme, as well as other initiatives, would continue.

Russian aggressors first bombed Gori on August 9. On August 13 Russian forces occupied the whole city and the Georgian police and troops left. Only after two weeks, on August 23, did the Georgian police re-enter the city and take control of it. The Russians then left the city and erected an illegal checkpoint 2-3 kilometres away at Karaleti.