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President Saakashvili addresses UN General Assembly

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, September 27
Democratic development of the country, prison scandal, upcoming elections and the Russian threat, these were the main topics in President Saakashvili’s speech, he delivered before the UN General Assembly.

While addressing the latest prison scandal, Saakashvili expressed his satisfaction with the steps taken by the government against the crimes committed. “My own country confronted democracy’s challenges anew this past week, when evidence emerged of terrible abuses in our prison system.” It seems like the challenge was accepted by the Georgian government and the “reaction was swift.”

“We identified and arrested those who were responsible – two government ministers have resigned, and we put in charge of the prison system a former Georgian human rights defender, the former Ombudsman, the most vocal criticizer of the system that failed us.

Those in charge of the penitentiary system were fired and ministers have resigned. This is how democracies learn, this is how we improve.” Saakashvili said.

The President stressed efforts carried out by his government in order to build up and sustain a free and an open society. “A free society does not mean a society without problems… an open society is one where problems are more visible, where arguments are open for all to see, and where government is held accountable.”

Saakashvili also raised an issue of the October 1st elections, also commenting on an adoption of “must carry/must offer” requirements in Georgian TV and in initiating “a code of conduct to ban political intimidation, the use of administrative resources, vote buying, campaign-related violence, or any of the hate speech that for so many years was used to promote hatred against ethnic and religious minorities.”

An “opportunity to renew and strengthen the fundamental social contract that allows citizens to freely judge and choose their leaders”, this is how Saakashvili sees the upcoming Election Day.

President drew international attention to the Russian factor, troops and military exercises held by the neighboring country. But the presence of Russian troops is not an only issue that Saakashvili is concerned about. “Billions of dollars of Russian money came into the Georgian election campaign. Lots of other resources were allocated” the president says, calling the world to support our sovereignty and democratic institutions in Georgia.

At the end of his speech, Saakashvili once again announced that his country will not step back from the difficult path towards democracy. The president has an unconditional trust in his people and in the international community, therefore he is confident, all the risks will be taken by his country and it will be proved “that democratic principles and practices are here for good.”

Mikheil Saakashvili also held several meetings with the leaders of different countries and the heads of international organizations. The President discussed current key issues for Georgia, like the upcoming elections and ongoing reforms. As Saakashvili commented, leaders of the partner countries are fully supporting reforms carried out in Georgia and they will keep co-operating with the country.