Saakashvili speaks on the state of Georgia and its future
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, May 28
The upcoming parliamentary elections this fall should be free, fair, and exemplary and should demonstrate a high level of democracy, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at the symbolic parliamentary session in Kutaisi on Georgia’s Independence Day, May 26. He said the de-centralization process would restore “social justice” and ensure equality in the regions, villages and towns, not only in the capital.
By moving the parliament to Georgia’s historic centre, Saakashvili said Kutaisi now becomes an important symbol for unity as it was centuries ago. He said that de-centralization would increase the accountability of the local self-governments that are responsible for protecting the rights of people in the regions because “only free people can overcome poverty and unemployment.”
The President said he wants to make everyone feel that the place they live is exactly the centre. He said that’s why all the state reforms had started from the regions, to encourage the people who love their country but lacked attention. “We are one state, one society with equal rights and opportunities for everyone!” the President said, stressing that when Abkhazia is returned to Georgia, Sokhumi would be another huge centre like any other part of the country.
“It was not accidental that the rose Revolution began in the regions, was supported by the outskirts of Tbilisi and became a huge wave [of people] in the centre of Tbilisi,” he said, discouraging distribution of the country in primary and secondary streets by elites and ordinary people.
Promising to make Georgia the centre of the region from Eastern Europe to Middle Asia, from Russia to the Near East, with its exemplary reforms, Saakashvili said that’s only the beginning because he won’t stop until each member of [Georgia’s] multi-ethnic society feels the country’s progress within their families and overcomes poverty.
Praising the reforms carried out during the last years, President Saakashvili stressed that Georgia has become closer to the “civilized world, and Western democracies.” He said the Chicago Summit last week was a significant step to becoming a full-pledged member of NATO, cautioning that despite the progress, “there is much more to be built” in Georgia.
Stressing “the dark forces of the past” won’t stop Georgia’s progress despite their money and dreams the President said, referring to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream political coalition.
He said he won’t accept the criticism of his opponents who had been destroying the country in the past years. “We know there is inflow of money [from Russia]; we know that everything is being done for that purpose,” he said, confident that Georgians would stand steady to save their democratic future and never become a periphery.
Expressing respect towards the heroes who have fallen to protect Georgia’s independence, Saakashvili spoke of the new history the country is writing, stressing that “the building of [the] new Georgia is still far from being over.”
Georgia’s Independence Day on May 26 is a celebration that marks the restoration of independence from the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. At the military parade in front of the Parliamentary building, the President gave special awards to the public and other political figures for their merit on contributions to the country.
Earlier the same morning, President Saakashvili attended a new parade entitled Made in Georgia in Tbilisi, where Georgian producers exhibited military and civilian products, food, textiles, pharmaceuticals and computer technology. It will become a traditional part of Independence Day and will promote Georgian products on the local and international market.