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Prime Minister meets students

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 14
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili met with students from Tbilisi State University on March 13. The Prime Minister was asked about almost all the main state and educational problems starting from the Ukrainian crisis to the problems of employment and low salaries at scientific institutions in Georgia.

Gharibashvili stressed that the current Georgian government is deeply concerned on what is going on in Ukraine. He put an emphasis on the fact that Russian actions constitute as interference in Ukrainian internal issues. However, he admitted that Georgia is not going to “compete with someone” in making radical statements. The PM emphasized that Georgia’s constructive attitude to Russia is positively assessed by the international community. Gharibashvili also stated that the meeting with the American President was a great stimulus for him and his team.

Gharibashvili stated that students will never be used for political aims as earlier, and the new government will gradually do its best to finance and employee its people.

He also stated that there is a problem of qualified staff in Georgia. Speaking on the issue, a certain number of students stated that on the one hand, the Georgian educational system requires reforming, and on the other hand, salaries at scientific institutions are too low - about GEL 150-200 average. The Prime Minister recognized that the aspect causes a loss of motivation among a large proportion of talented people who eventually leave the country.

Gharibashvili stated that one of the major outcomes of this difficult situation would be the economic development of the state. According to him, the new government is trying to create good conditions for agricultural development. The Prime Minister admitted that without developing local manufacturing, Georgia will not be able to use its privileges suggested by the association agreement with the European Union when it is signed.

The Prime Minister was told by one of the students that nepotism is also one of the major obstacles for talented people to be employed at state institutions. According to the student, the ministries “are full of such people who do not have relevant education and do nothing but drink coffee.” He admitted that in such cases talented people “are forced” to leave the country and find jobs abroad.

Gharibashvili stated that the problem really does exist, and the current government has launched active measures against the problem. He stated that all the ministries have announced vacancies and internships for students at state institutions.

“The problem will not be solved in a day. Step by step, the non-qualified staff will be replaced by a qualified force,” Gharibashvili stated.

The students also asked questions concerning workers’ rights, who have to work in “unbearable conditions” such as in the Kazreti gold mine. They accused the government of ignoring the problem. The Prime Minister did not share this opinion, stating that a special state commission has been formed for studying the situation there.

Gharibashvili also made a comment concerning the Sakdrisi gold mine. The Prime Minister stressed that based on research, the mine is not the oldest one and is not as important historical monument as it was supposed to be. He informed that a new museum will be built in Bolnisi and the most historical parts of the mine might be transferred there.

Gharibashvili also answered the questions concerning the Khudoni Hydro Electro Power Station. According to him, statements indicating that the power station might damage Svaneti culture are misleading the people. He stated that the importance of the power station would be explained to the locals and if afterwards they would be against constructing the power station for grounded reasons, their attitude would be taken into account.

Gharibashvili admitted that all the processes in the country related to the court system, media, and prisons are transparent, and the transparency has been recognized locally and internationally.

The Prime Minister also stated that the new government would never use such methods in prisons as the previous government had used. He underscored that the situation in prisons still needed to be regulated. However, order should be achieved without torture.