The messenger logo

Saakashvili sums up 2009

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, December 28
2009 was the most difficult year in Georgia’s recent history, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Friday. “We have suffered war and postwar occupation, the world financial crisis and lengthy internal political destabilisation,” Saakashvili said on Rustavi 2’s weekly talk show Position. “One of these could have been enough to end the existence of any State, however we resisted all three,” he added.

The upcoming local elections, which are the first since the occupation, are “very important”, according to Saakashvili. “My dream is that the elections which will be held in Georgia are accepted by the majority. The accession of another party to power should not involve a catastrophe for a city, a village or the country,” he noted.

Saakashvili said that some of the opposition had become “much more realistic” since the spring protest rallies. He said that the rallies had been an “FSB scenario”, referring to the Russian Federal Security Service, adding that the demonstrations in the capital had “damaged the country’s investment environment.” “Lately I have spent much more time with the opposition than with the majority and this is very useful. Practically everyone came to the Security Council Session. Practically all the serious forces take part in work on the election code. Some of them take the position that they do not like the agreed code, but they will participate in the elections nonetheless. This means that the agreed legislation is good enough,” the President stated.

Saakashvili also commented on former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition Movement for Fair Georgia Zurab Noghaideli’s recent visits to Moscow, saying that “Noghaideli is not the first one through whom Russia is trying to control the situation in Georgia.” and that Kremlin policy has been very consistent. “At different times there have been Igor Giorgadze, Tengiz Kitovani, Aslan Abashidze, Badri Patarkatsishvili, Alexander Ebralidze and now Noghaideli,” Saakashvili noted, adding that “Noghaideli has fallen lower than one could imagine.”

“If The Kremlin has nobody in Georgia except Noghaideli to rely on and has to pay Nauru USD 50 million in exchange for its recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, the situation is not as catastrophic as it might seem,” the President said. “Russia has tried all possible ways to destroy us, including war, occupation, espionage and so on. Tbilisi airport was open for us, they wanted the Georgian Government to flee. Accounts were opened for us in a Swiss bank. But we did not run away and the Russians saw more than a million Georgian citizens standing in a live chain,” Saakashvili stated.

The President also commented on Georgia’s relations with Russia, saying that “Georgia cannot be willing to have bad relations with Moscow.” “We are not crazy,” he said.

The “tragedy” in Kutaisi was the result of “recklessness, incompetence and negligence,” Saakashvili said, referring to the demolition of the World War II Memorial in Kutaisi on December 19 which caused the death of a 42-year old woman and her 11-year old daughter. He said the issue of the memorial had been “politicised” and downplayed Russian criticism over the demolition, calling the Russian authorities’ statements about “dishonouring ancestors” a “mere pharisaism.”

Saakashvili outlined the economic situation in the country. “In terms of the economy, 2009 was not successful,” he said. “Many people lost their jobs, the social situation in the country is difficult, but let’s remember what we did achieve this year: we managed to increase the budget, to maintain the banking sector and maintain construction companies thanks to the good programme implemented by the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office. Investments are coming to Georgia,” the President said, adding that the adoption of the Act of Economic Freedom will further improve the situation.