PM Ivanishvili delivers his first speech at PACE
By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, April 24
Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili delivered his first speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of European Council (PACE). He spoke about the reforms his government has carried out and the ones that are planned for the future. The PM also mentioned that he, as well as the whole country, feels a great responsibility towards the Council of Europe.
“To my country, it is still a thrill to be here amongst you. We have come late to the club of freedom, and we know we still have a long way to go. The election that brought my government to power in October 2012 represented the precedent of the democratic transfer of power in my country.” PM said.
He said despite several reforms the previous government had carried out, all fields were controlled by the ruling elite; therefore it is essential to “replace the authoritarian structures of the later years with a modern, civil society." He further added that several violations were recorded during the last years, including allowing elite-level corruption to exist, establishing control over the media and many human rights violations.
“We have also begun a healing process, which channels deep anger and restores a sense of self-respect to our citizens. That includes indictments of some former officials for past crimes. But it also includes keeping the thousands of professional civil servants who have served the previous government.” PM said. He assured MPs that the new government fully supports the transparency of state policy, human rights protection and the development of the NGO sector in the country.
Ivanishvili revealed his confidence in his government while speaking about the reforms that are being carried out in the judiciary system, agriculture and health-care, as well as about the goal to establish a truly free environment for media sources. “I believe Georgia has a unique chance to establish a truly independent judicial system, free from the executive branch and free from the political influence and the government of Georgia,” he said.
To build a relationship with Russia is a special challenge for the PM. Ivanishvili is going to start relations with the neighboring country with a pragmatic, but principled approach. “We both have our own red lines, which neither of us intends to cross,” he said, adding that while negotiating with Russia, Georgia will be realistic about its possibilities. However, “there can be no progress towards peace in the region if Georgia is expected to abandon its legitimate interests, especially territorial integrity and the right of its citizens to return to their homelands.” Ivanishvili expressed his hope for the international support in the process of settling relations with Russia.
In his speech, the PM once again reaffirmed the aspiration of his country to join the Euro-Atlantic family. “I would like to emphasize that Georgia’s Western aspirations – Euro-Atlantic integration – represent our strategic choice that has no alternative. This choice was made by the Georgian people long ago.” he said.
Ivanishvili also answered several questions of European MPs, including Russians.
The speech received controversial assessments from the members of the Georgian delegation.
Georgian MP from the United National Movements Giorgi Kandelaki said Ivanishvili’s speech and also his answers to questions were so poor that he personally even felt ashamed. The MP thinks the PM was unable to present the interests of the country in a proper way.
Georgian Dream members who are accompanying the PM in Strasburg were very pleased with the way Ivanishvili presented before the assembly. “I had a conversation with several groups of MPs and they are very pleased, they were able to see that Ivanishvili was sincere, which is a rare quality in heads of governments,” MP Tina Khidasheli commented after the session. She also added that overall it is very important that Ivanishvili was able to deliver his speech and answer many questions of the assembly members.