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Saakashvili lauds new minister appointees, speaks of positive future for Georgians

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, July 6
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili referred to the new Minister of Defense, Dimitri Shashkin, as “one of the greatest Georgian patriots.” Saakashvili also highlighted the fact that Shashkin has carried out several important reforms in every field he has worked in. He also said that defense is one of the most important facets of Georgia security and the country’s armed forces have the highest authority among state institutions.

“If not for our armed forces, our country might not exist today,” Saakashvili said, stressing that every Georgian citizen should somehow contribute to the country’s defense either at the professional level or as part of the conscription army or in the reserve system.

Saakashvili explained that the “military industry” not only strengthens the country, but also brings new technology and ideas and creates jobs.

Dimitri Shashkin, who has chaired the Tbilisi office of the US Republican Institute, will use his experience for the new important defense assistance program the US is planning to launch for Georgia. Calling Shashkin a “generator of ideas” President Saakashvili hopes the new minister will contribute new ideas to the Georgian government.

At the defense ministry, Shashkin replaced Bacho Akhalaia, who was moved to the Ministry of Internal Affairs instead of Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili. The president said Bacho Akhalaia fully cleansed the army of the hesitant elements who possessed an old-style mindset, and those who were ready to ally themselves with the enemy.”

Praising the Georgian police as having one of the best systems in the world, Saakashvili said the Interior Ministry has one of the highest ranking leadership roles which and requires “great care and support.” He said every authority has secondary importance in Georgia because the main “achievement” is the police which guarantee safety in the country.

He said the Georgian police are a de-politicized structure, which protects everyone equally. “We trust the people without any political concern… but we cannot be indifferent towards those who want to restore a corruptive criminal system,” Saakashvili said.

Presenting Khatia Dekanoidze as the Minister of Education and Science, the president said the new minister would continue the course of Dimitry Shashkin. Saakashvili said the police academy where Dekanoidze worked was not a police institution, but was one of education. Thus, Dekanoidze would continue the education reform that was started during the Ministry of Alexander Lomaia in 2004.

Saakashvili spoke of the changes planned in the Unified National Exams beginning the next academic year. As a decision-maker, he hoped to have the people’s support for developing the system. He said people in the National Examination Centre (NAEC) had tens of thousands of GEL but did not do anything until the exam period.

He said that beginning next year, exams will be held every month so that entrants had an opportunity to improve their results. Saakashvili also suggested an increase in state grants for students. He said the teachers should also have the motivation to improve their professional qualities. “The youth graduating from the universities should have the will to work at schools for GEL 1000-1500,” Saakashvili said.

He said the Georgian government is open for exchanging different ideas and opinions which is the “recipe of success” in a democratic system. With the approval of the new governmental action plan titled “More Benefit to People,” Saakashvili said that every citizen should feel the impact of the new education system.

Former NAEC Director, Maia Miminoshvili, commented on the president’s statement on her Facebook page. “If this had all been said only in my direction, I would have refrained, but I am obliged to answer to the unfair assaults against my colleagues,” she said, explaining that the idea of the Unified National Exams “was born” during the Ministry of Aleko Kartozia and then realized under the current government. “The NAEC created and established the Georgian version of the exams,” Miminoshvili explained.

She said they were not exams for “privileged” students and the president used to say that the Unified National Exams had opened the way to regional students to the prestigious universities.

Stressing that the NAEC was responsible not only for the Unified National Exams, but also high school graduate certification and master’s exams and other educational activities, Miminoshvili said this all required hard daily labor during the 12 months. Denying having a high salary at the NAEC, she asked the government to avoid offending the people who have done a lot of things for the country and still remain in Georgia’s service even after they quit from NAEC.

“I got used to the fact that unproven accusations against me are politically beneficial, but I have no moral right to calmly accept unrealistic accusations against my colleagues,” Miminoshvili said in her Facebook post.