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President stands before Parliament

By Messenger Staff
Monday, February 14
On February 11 President Saakashvili of Georgia delivered his annual report to Parliament. Debates followed the report, with quite different pictures being drawn by the President and his supporters and the opposition. One had the feeling that the people on either side exist and live in different realities. There is no real Georgia rather both sides represent a Georgia of fantasy.

Some statistics: this is the President’s 7th annual report to parliament; Saakashvili was due to appear before parliament at 6pm – he was 15 minutes late. Last year Saakashvili appeared in front of parliament at the same time on the same day. This year’s speech was welcomed and cheered with over 30 rounds of applause; last year this happened only 14 times. In the beginning some years ago, the President was very nervous and reacted accordingly to criticisms. At one time he would even use very harsh words towards the opposition, while later he refused to enter the debate simply leaving the building after delivering his report. Recently however he has been actively debating with his opponents and this time was no exception. The President even requested that members of the diplomatic corps stay to listen to the debates to witness the triumph of democracy in Georgia.

Saakashvili was relaxed and cheerful and his statements showed a sense of humour. He interrupted opposition members a couple of times asking them questions that put them in an awkward position. No-one dared to ask the President to refrain from interfering and preventing the person from delivering his speech. In his report Saakashvili highlighted the country’s achievements and in true PR style he pointed out the heroic individuals responsible for each and every success story.

One significant fact which observers keep speculating about is that according to Saakashvili in 2015, the Georgian population will once again reach 5 million and he predicts that the country will also welcome the same number of tourists. Analysts thought it strange that the President quoted a time by when presumably his presidential term will have expired, and when a new president might have different priorities.

The President also mentioned that agricultural production will have doubled by 2015, that 17 new hydro power stations will have been built and an additional 13 would be under construction; every city would have an efficient water supply; the country’s budget will be doubled; unemployment will be halved and the average salary will have risen by 50%.

According to the ruling party representatives’ the President’s speech was convincing and realistic. It answered all the questions and outlined future programmes. Unsurprisingly the opposition is not satisfied claiming many issues raised by the President were not analysed properly, with the majority of the most acute issues not being addressed, or if addressed at all, only in very general terms. The opposition asked the president several times in various ways about his personal plans – in particular whether he is prepared to give up power in a democratic manner. Saakashvili avoided answering this question, saying that for him it is more important to take care of the current problems rather than think about what will happen several years down the line.

At one point the President interrupted National Democrat Opposition MP Guram Chakhvadze to demand that if there was any corrupt person present in the parliament now they be pointed out. Chakhvadze did not respond to this, he simply stated that neither the President nor ministers nor MPs could be accused of corruption. Saakashvili was triumphant.

Christian Democrat Targamadze was more direct, putting forward arguments explaining his view of state corruption – when the spending of state money is uncontrolled.

So while it had its faults, this was overall indeed a certain form of democracy being implemented in Georgian reality.