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Ivanishvili espouses change, slams Saakashvili

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 17
The leader of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili held his first TV conference on September 16. Local residence from four Georgian regions: Senaki, Zestaponi, Dusheti and Dmanisi, had an opportunity to ask questions to the opposition leader. Questions were also received through the internet and the call center.

Almost all the questions asked to Ivanishvili pertained to employment issues, agricultural plans, the party’s foreign policy orientation and the coalition’s future intentions concerning small and medium-sized business development.

The TV conference revealed that the situation in Georgia’s mountainous regions is worse compared to some other low-lying regions in the country. The local residents of Dusheti spoke about problems that are not common for the rest of Georgia’s residents.

“There are no roads, no electricity or gas in such villages. The authorities do not pay attention to our villages because the number of voters is less there. There are villages in the region which have not seen electricity for 21 years,” one resident of Dusheti underscored. It has also been emphasized that the villages of the mountainous regions are emptying due to unemployment and the difficult economic conditions.

Local residents of all regions were interested in why they should believe in the coalition leader and the promises he makes. People have expressed interest in how the coalition plans to decrease the unemployment level, what measures will be taken on behalf of agricultural development, how the coalition would solve the problems related with refugees, military veterans and for those affiliated with commercial constructions, and what concrete guarantees the coalition leader will make so that the country is not sent back to its dark past.

“First of all we should think about economic and business development in the country. We have concrete plans concerning this issue. Several years ago I had concrete plans regarding Georgia’s economic and agricultural issues. However, the current leadership of Georgia did not give me the opportunity to carry out very significant projects for the country’s economic advancement. However, we have fulfilled several agricultural projects in several areas of Georgia and people can see the projects’ success with their own eyes. One of these agricultural projects was successfully undertaken near Saguramo,” Ivanishvili stated.

Ivanishvili stated that as many small and little enterprises will be built as possible. “Georgia is not a country of huge enterprises. As soon as we come to power we will support people who are involved in small business. We will assist people physically and financially. The same can be said concerning farmers and agriculture. We provide villages with all means to support agricultural development in the country,” the coalition leader suggested.

Ivanishvili stated that the labor code will be “looked over” as well, as the current code violates human and labor rights.

The coalition leader emphasized that the conditions of IDPs will be improved for the first time. “Of course we will work hard to improve the living conditions of all Georgians. However, first of all we will focus on the welfare of refugees, as those people have suffered much,” Ivanishvili said, adding that the problems of veterans and those affected through commercial construction would be solved as well.

“When we create worthy living conditions for all refugees, negotiations with the de-facto regions will be easier. As those people living in the occupied regions will see that the state cares about its people and they will have a desire to reintegrate to the home country,” Ivanishvili stated.

On the question of which guarantees he can provide that the country will not revert back to the past, Ivanishvili responded by saying that Saakashvili is dragging the country into the past already. “I have always avoided speaking on my charitable actions. I have always done my best for the country; I have been financing a lot of projects essential for the Georgian people,” Ivanishvili said.

In the end, Ivanishvili mentioned that street rallies after the elections are practically excluded due to the great number of international observers in the country and those strict statements made by the foreign organizations concerning the current state leadership.

“We will end that shame which is ongoing in the country on October 1. Georgia has never had such shameful leadership as it has now,” Ivanishvili stated.

The ruling team has an absolutely different attitude concerning the upcoming elections. Despite the fact that the UNM’s and oppositional election priorities coincide in many aspects, the ruling team is sure in its success. Majority representatives frequently state that the people would not vote for the pro-Russian forces and the country will not go back to its dark past.