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Ivanishvili: "I'm interested in electoral politics not street rallies"

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 24
In his first interview with Georgian media, given to political commentator and blogger Ia Antadze, Georgian billionaire, Bidzina Ivanishvili covered all domestic and foreign issues Georgian society might be interested in, but he warned: “I do not even want to hear the words street rally or demonstration.“

Improving the constitution would be the “first thing” that should be done after coming to power. “A good constitution will be one which is a result of agreement within the society and not one written by me,” he said. He also mentioned that good consultation is not enough: ”a constitution is very important. But the constitution won’t protect you against authoritarianism. The society should also be ready for it. I am going to strengthen society. That is my major goal.”

Ivanishvili says that after coming to power he will then move into the opposition as part of his 'ideal parliamentary model'. "I consider an ideal parliament where there are three parties and in where none of the party controls more than half, when I say that I will come [into power] with an absolute majority, I mean a constitutional majority – two-thirds [of seats in the parliament] plus one", he said, adding that his move into opposition of a government created by him will be done in order to keep permanent control on the authorities' actions.

After coming to power, business and financial sector development and high level education should be the priorities of the state, “without the functioning of those spheres, no economic development is expected,” agriculture should be assisted Ivanishvili says and “this will not be difficult, as Georgia is an agriculture state." As for tourism, “business should decide in this area how to act, Georgia is an interesting state, foreigners come, see and decide how to act,” however until the authorities control business, “we should not await European investments here, thus my priority in Georgia is free business.”

The billionaire thinks that he will be able to win the elections even in the existing election system, however if the authorities fabricate the results, “the US and Europe will not recognize the elections as legitimate."

NATO, the US and Russia have been named as the main priorities of foreign policy, as “Georgian neutrality is impossible.“ According to the businessman, ”NATO would have been the best option for our security, but I do not have any illusions that the situation will change quickly in this regard. I hope that the chance wasted [by the authorities] in this regard will not be lost forever; we should return to this issue."

Strategic partnership with the United States has been regarded as of “huge importance”, Ivanishvili mentioned and underlined that the US "has done a lot for us and we can only be grateful. We should try to further deepen relations with this country; first and foremost we should be an interesting country for the US. We can and should do that.”

As for Russia, Ivanishvili stated that the “Russia factor is important, it is Georgia’s largest neighbour; no one can change that and move to another place.”

In the context of the Russian occupied regions “fate“ was mentioned by Ivanishvili, who has no illusion that the problem of the occupied regions of Georgia can be solved in 2-3 years, however he is sure that the process can be worked out better.

"We will definitely be able to move the process forward. I have a strong feeling that some time in the future Abkhazia and South Ossetia will return back to a united Georgia. It will definitely happen in my lifetime.” He also outlined the three main conditions which definitely assist the process, “firstly – and it is decisive – we should become a democratic state, based on rule of law, an attractive state for Abkhazians and Ossetians. The second – concurrence in interests with Russia. The third – advantageous international situation and more support from democratic states. A combination of these three components is the key to resolving the problem.”

“Persons who have accumulated their business with criminal figures acting in Russia and in the state where so-called thieves-in-law decide who gets rich or not, has no right to talk about business environment improvement and freeing business from tax pressure,“ majority representative Goka Gabashvili stated commenting on Ivanishvili’s interview. He also recalled that the business environment in Georgia is one of the best in the world. For fellow majority member, Nugzar Tsilauri, “it has no importance whether ivanishvili is acting in accordance with the Russian authorities or under the Russian government’s pressure,” he says that the fact that Ivanishvili parrots the Russian elite’s statements on the August war is the most essential fact about the billionaire. Tsilauri also mentioned General Lebed, who was apparently financed by Ivanishvili, and who was the general who killed young protestors in Georgia in 1989. To the question why the current Georgian authorities accepted serious financing from a man who financed General Lebed, Tsiklauri said that Ivanishvili had financed a lot of important projects and no one is criticizing him for this, “however, when a man comes into politics, some issues emerge, which were hidden earlier, as interest towards him increases.”