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In Tsageri, Saakashvili responds to critics

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, February 20
No matter how much Russian money is spent attempting to drag Georgia into the past, the Georgian people will always choose a progressive future, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced on Friday. While opening a new hospital in Tsageri, Western Georgia, Saakashvili also indirectly referred to businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political team, saying that "particular" people are annoyed with his administration's vocal promotion of Georgian interests.

He referred to Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream initiative group as “The same old faces… politically mummified people, who have darkened Georgia and who have been robbing Georgia for years in the past,” explaining that many in the group used to enjoy a position of power over a poverty-stricken country, and are unhappy with the recent rehabilitation of the country.

Saakashvili also said that despite the “great trouble” Georgia is facing with its breakaway territories, the country is still taking steps forward. He dismissed the idea, much-commented upon in the media, of a need to exclude the poor from politics. Praising state officials who come from poor families, especially those who have not made money in politics, he criticized a recent statement made by lawyer and member of the Georgian Dream initiative group, Archil Kbilashvili. Kbilashvili said that if a person joining politics has nothing, he might become corrupt, and that only those who have “a proper material environment” should make such a step.

The lawyer's words were interpreted as a statement about the need for large amounts of money in politics. “These people miss the point,” Saakashvili said, referring to Kbilashvili.

Saakashvili condemned the time in Georgia's history when decisions were made on a single, wealthy street in Tbilisi. He affirmed that the situation has changed and for the last five years reform in Georgia has exceeded all expectations. Sharing his future plans for decentralizing the country, Saakashvili noted that this will further irritate his opponents.

He also stressed that no trickery or lies could push Georgia back into the past, saying “No one wants to return back when there was a choice between the past and the future… the choice will always be made in favor of future, because we see the progress". Saakashvili maintained that his party is building a country with a bright future for every citizen. “That’s what the new hospitals are for. Although we have no oil, larger countries can’t even do 1/10 of what we have done,” he said.

New motorways, energy plants, agricultural programs, hospitals, and schools are signs of Georgia’s progress, he said. Speaking about new problems the country may still face on its way to further development, the President said that Georgia has the advantage of uniting to overcome poverty together.