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Saakashvili slams opposition for “begging money from the enemy”

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, July 6
The Georgian people have to choose between building “cells” and building hotels, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on July 3, speaking at the construction site of the Hyatt Hotel in Batumi, where Saakashvili held an “open air” Government session. He stressed the negative effect of the improvised cells, set up outside the Georgian Parliament as a part of continuing protest activities against him, saying that the main reason for Batumi’s quick development is the fact that there are no “cells” there.

“We should choose whether we want to build “cells” or to whether we want to build hotels, which will employ thousands of people,” Saakashvili told Government members, praising the pace of construction works in Batumi and calling it “nearly the only city in Europe where despite the world economic crisis building works have not been suspended.” The President said a revival is being seen in the Georgian economy and called on investors and businessmen to be more active in investing in the country. “If the current pace of hotel construction is maintained, Adjara will receive 2 million tourists in 2-3 years time,” Saakashvili said.

The Georgian President criticised some Georgian politicians for “begging money from the enemy of Georgia” for their own political activities. “This is the first time I have heard someone calling our enemy, which wants to destroy our country, an investor and sponsor. It is a new name for the enemy- investor and sponsor,” Saakashvili said, adding that at the same time “they are abolishing all chances of investments.”

“Georgia’s enemy has two interests – the occupation of the country and the collapse of its economy,” Saakashvili told the Government members gathered in Batumi. “All attempts to cause political or economic crisis in Georgia are predestined to failure,” he said. He noted that Georgia has “greater international support now than even last year, before the war.” “I want everyone to realise that we are not only working on current economic issues, but also on how to save, strengthen and unite Georgia,” the President stated.

The President’s opponents have criticised his speech in Batumi. “I have seen a lot in this world, but I have never seen a President and his Ministers sitting on the roof of a still-unfinished building,” Saakashvili’s former close ally ex-Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze said. “It was an absolute caricature of a Government session. Saakashvili came out with groundless and malicious accusations against the opposition as usual,” Burjanadze noted.

Despite the claims by Georgian officials that holding continual rallies and blocking off the capital’s main thoroughfare is hindering the country’s economic development the ‘radical’ opposition say they will continue demonstrating. “This is the way of victory. This fight should end logically with Saakashvili leaving Georgia,” leader of the Traditionalist Party Akaki Asatiani said on July 4. The opposition leaders are planning to hold a rally on the day of US Vice-President Joseph Biden’s arrival in Tbilisi to “show him what Georgian people are demanding.” The non-Parliamentary opposition politicians say a special large-scale demonstration will be held on August 7, the day when the Russian-Georgian conflict broke out at which all the attendees will be dressed in white. The opposition leaders say they will condemn the Russian aggression and the “precipitate” actions of the Georgian Government.