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Saakashvili’s State of Nation Address 2010 - 26.02.2010, Civil Georgia

President Saakashvili delivered annual state of the nation address in Parliament, followed by remarks of ruling party MPs and rebuttal speeches by parliamentary minority lawmakers.

Key points of President Saakashvili’s address:

  • Saakashvili launched the address with expressing condolences to the family members (who are present in the Parliament chamber) of late Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in crash during practice run hours before the opening of Vancouver Olympic Games;
  • This is my sixth state of the nation address… throughout these years we had many successes, but there were failures as well;
  • Our major goal was moving towards creation of modern, European Georgian state;
  • Russian intervention; global economic crisis and last year’s April-May internal political tensions [referring to opposition's street protest rallies] – these were three major developments that hit our country in recent years. These were like Tsunami waves… triggering economic contraction, making lives of people worse;
  • 2009 was the year of tough test – question we were facing was whether or not we would have maintained the Georgian statehood… Our society has answered this question in such a way, like any dignified nation would have done it;
  • Despite the threats of returning back to chaos, we managed to maintain order in the country… and to maintain the Georgian statehood; this is thanks to multiethnic people of Georgia; this gratitude belongs to each patriotic political party… each and every Georgian citizen of any ethnicity; to policemen and soldiers;
  • We have passed tough tests we faced in 2008 and in 2009; although final recovery is not yet achieved, we can state today that downward movement is stopped and despite multiple difficulties we are on the way towards recovery; we already have positive figures in every sector of economy;
  • 2010 will be the year of recovery;
  • We will have at least 3% economic growth this year, but I hope the growth will be higher than that;
  • The major focus will be made on continuation of liberal economic reforms; this policy helped us to put Georgia on radars of foreign investors;
  • We can achieve economic recovery only through liberal economic policy;
  • Georgia is on the right track; there are lots of opportunities, it is now important to work hard;
  • Georgia will never turn away from this track of liberalism; 
  • Foreign direct investment was at least USD 700 million in 2009;
  • Several years ago Georgia was one of the most energy dependent countries [in terms of having one major energy supplier, referring to Russia]; the promise has been delivered and now Georgia’s energy sources are diversified and Georgia is one of the most independent countries in the world in terms of energy supplies;
  • We are exporting electricity to Russia and we will start exporting electricity to Iran and to Iraq as well;
  • There is a huge poverty in the Georgian villages; providing proper infrastructure in rural areas remains my major goal and we have already started these projects;
  • We have seen 25% increase in export of agriculture products, despite the fact that we have lost the Russian market;
  • I have no doubt one day we will have air traffic with Moscow and normal cooperative relations. Yes, it won't be a flight for 37 roubles [like it was in Soviet times], but believe me it's much better to pay market price to fly to Moscow and go there as free Europeans, than to pay a low price and have the status of provincial vassal;
  • We are launching second wave of education system reform; the first wave of reform was about creating basic education infrastructure; in frames of second wave the focus is now made on increasing of level of education;
  • Certification of teachers on the voluntary basis will be carried out, but those who will undergo certification, will receive higher salaries;
  • Quotas will be allocated in universities for national minority groups, that will encourage their integration to the society; 
  • Georgian healthcare needs further development and recovery. We cannot wait for the period of the next boom. Hence, the government has developed a new program, according to which along with the private sector, one of the major investors will be the state – at the first stage construction of new, world standard hospitals will be launched throughout Tbilisi, where 11 new clinics will be located. The state will build and then transfer them to the ownership and management of the personnel of those hospitals. It does not mean that the state will interfere in management of hospital sector. Our position is that healthcare should develop on private initiatives. But by this decision we will only support and speed up the creation of high standard hospitals for out people;
  • 2010 should be the year of political recovery as well;
  • I presented to you [in September, 2008] a plan of new wave of democratic reforms and I want to report now about its implementation;
  • As promised, the state commission on constitutional reform is actively working; the goal is to have stronger democratic institutions;
  • President no longer appoints judges; President is no longer a member of Supreme Council of Justice ; opposition members already have seats in the Supreme Council of Justice;
  • As a result of reforms public confidence towards the judiciary has increased two-fold; the judiciary system is on a right track;
  • Introduction of jury system – this promise has also been delivered. I am very proud, that the first jury trial will be held this year in Georgia. (Parliament last October passed new criminal procedure code, which will go into force from October, 2010, envisaging among other things introduction of jury system. Jury trials will be conducted only in capital Tbilisi at the first stage and apply only to homicide cases);
  • I promised to work on electoral code reform together with the opposition and this promise has been kept; there is a new chairman of the Central Election Commission; the promise to have direct mayoral election of Tbilisi is also kept;
  • The forthcoming self-government elections will be a significant test for our democracy and civil culture;
  • I want to warn every public official: secure holding of elections in maximally free and democratic environment;
  • I want to tell our European partners: with these elections we want to get closer to Europe, so I ask you to send observers to monitor not only election day but also pre-election period;
  • I promised state funding of political parties and this promise has also been kept;
  • Opposition has been engaged in the work of National Security Council;
  • Media pluralism was important part of the second wave of democratic reform and opposition members were able to take seat in Georgian National Communication Commission; the board of public broadcaster has been reformed and political programming has been launched on public broadcaster's Second Channel;
  • All television stations are operating in the condition of tax debt, especially the ones in provincial regions;
  • So I offer to declare tax amnesty for all the television stations in the provincial regions;
  • Last spring we have unprecedented event in the Caucasus - we ended street protest rallies without violence;
  • Let each and every political party contribute to holding of free and democratic elections this spring; is not it time for a civilized politics?
  • Let us hold elections this spring so that the defeated party congratulates the winner;
  • In foreign policy integration to EU and NATO is our goal; it will not be an easy road.
  • We know that the Georgian nation is undefeatable and the enemy knows it too;
  • Of course one can always find several Georgians who are undignified and will kiss bloody boots of [the enemy]; but I want the enemies of the freedom to know that Georgia is country of dignified people;
  • Despite bullying and threats, Georgia will never kneel down and will never surrender;

After a short break following the President’s 90-minute long address, lawmakers from the parliamentary minority and majority groups took the floor:

MP Petre Mamradze (who is not a member of a formal parliamentary minority group) of ex-PM Zurab Nogaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia said he was not in the list of speakers, although he had requested. Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, told him that his request was submitted too late and it was not possible to arrange his inclusion in the list of speakers. After that MP Mamradze walked out of the chamber.     

In her speech MP Magda Anikashvili of Christian-Democratic Movement (a leading party in the parliamentary minority group) mainly spoke on social issues, focusing on socially vulnerable people and need for setting clear criteria for identifying such people, so that to rule out situation wherein some might be excluded from the list of those eligible for state assistance. She proposed free healthcare for children under 7 years old. She said “price limits” should be established on major medicines.

MP Guram Chakhvadze of National-Democratic Movement (member of parliamentary minority) told the President that only a narrow circle of people associated with the government benefit from the authorities’ economic policies. He also called on the President “to stand above your [ruling] party interest” and be a guarantor of holding free and fair elections.

MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze, an individual member of parliamentary minority, raised issue of high-profile murder cases in which officials were alleged to be either involved or trying to cover them up.

MP Jondi Bagaturia, leader of Georgian Troupe also focused on social issues and among other things called on the President to increase minimal monthly pensions to GEL 150; write-off debt accumulated as result unpaid communal tariffs; he also called on the President to say no to “zero tolerance”, which he said led to prison overcrowding.

MP Giorgi Tsagareishvili listed names of those opposition activists and supporters who were attacked and beaten at the time when street protest rallies were ongoing in Tbilisi. “Who were those people committing those crimes? I will hand this list to you and look through this list of these people who were attacked,” MP Tsagareishvili said. He also demanded from the President to make his special fund transparent.

In his speech MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling party called on the opposition politicians not to focus only on negative and “also to note the positive deeds that is being done in the country.” He said it would an expression of high political culture.   

MP Gia Tortladze
, leader of Democratic Party of Georgia and a member of parliamentary minority, started his speech with condemning “collaborationism” of some opposition leaders – referring to ex-PM Zurab Nogaideli’s Movement for Fair Georgia party - with the Russian occupying force. “It must be condemned by everyone in Georgia,” MP Tortladze said. In his speech MP Tortladze also criticized France for its plans to sell warship to Russia. “If it happens my party will launch protest rallies outside [the French] embassy,” he said. He welcomed “positive trends” in the judicially system.  

MP Giorgi Akhvlediani of Christian-Democratic Movement welcomed the initiative to provide tax amnesty to television stations in the provinces. He, however, told the President that he had failed “to establish the Georgian statehood.” He said that because of wrong economic policies number of socially vulnerable people had increased. He also criticized the President for not introducing direct mayoral elections in other major cities of Georgia;

MP Giorgi Gabashvili of the ruling party said the opposition lawmakers’ speeches “lacked arguments” and were “totally inappropriate.” “Debates should be more fact-based,” he said. Apparently alluding to Nogaideli’s party he said that there still were “forces” in Georgia, which “do not want the country’s independent development course.”

MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of parliamentary minority said that President Saakashvili created system in which he ruled the country unilaterally. He said on foreign policy front there are series of failures and cited closure of OSCE and UN missions. He also said planned reopening of Zemo Larsi-Kazbegi border crossing point with Russia was a source of concern. “There is crisis of values in the opposition,” he said. “But there is even bigger crisis within the authorities, which have no values at all,” he said and added that Nogaideli served for years as PM in the Saakashvili’s administration. He also told Saakashvili: “Distance from the ruling party and be the President of each citizen of Georgia.” He offered to decrease defense spending at a level of GDP’s 3%. “It will help to save GEL 170 million, which will be enough for business stimulus projects,” he said. He also told the President: “You have turned your back on democracy.”

In his closing remarks President Saakashvili said:

  • In overall the level of parliamentary debates is increasing from year to year; this is thanks to all of us; here is a gathering of thinkers;
  • Everyone knows that no one has taken anything home from the presidential fund (responding to MP Tsagareishvili call to make spending from presidential fund transparent);
  • The government is in service of people and they have no weekends; of course it can always be said that cup is half empty; the country’s budget has increased ten-fold and economy grew three-fold in recent years – and for me that’s a major index of statehood;
  • I am not telling you to watch everything through colored glasses, the opposition can look through black glasses, but please clean those black glasses at least sometimes;
  • Responding on MP Giorgi Targamadze’s remarks on the need to decrease defense spending at a level of GDP’s 3%, Saakashvili said: “We have already reduced defense funding twice; and it has been done by the country which is actually in the state of war. I want to remind you that ceasefire accord remains unfulfilled [by Russia] and we have no peace treaty with Russia, because in exchange for peace treaty [Russia] asks us to recognize occupation of the Georgian territories. I repeat we will never surrender. When we speak about reduction of defense spending, Mr. Targamadze, neither are you a leader of a Buddhist-Democratic party, nor do I look like Dalai Lama, either by appearance or by actions, because I want to live in my country and I want to struggle in my country to the end.”
  • I am not taking back those words on zero tolerance, because we will never tolerate criminals;
  • I will tell you what kind of Georgia I want to see by the end of my presidency: Georgia, where fundamental changes of social culture will become irreversible; the changes, which were implemented by the great team of reformers, who are in a forefront of this Parliament;
  • There are some, who do not want Georgia to be successful; some do not want it because they are our enemies – not some but one [referring to Russia], and others simply do not want that because they do not want to help us and for that reason they are citing various pretexts… We will create such a country, which will itself send instructors [to foreign countries] and we are already sending them;
  • No matter whether we will be allowed in EU or not – it is a very long-term perspective – we will have better roads, than in most of the new EU-member states;
  • Addressing to the parliamentary minority, Saakashvili said: “As long as you wear black glasses you’d better not to drive, but time will come when you put off you glasses, road will become better and then there will be no tragedy in change of the authorities, but I want to tell you that it will happen slower than you imagine, but it will happen – at various levels at various times, but it will happen; where there is a democracy replacement always happens, but it should not turn into a tragedy for a country; we will achieve creation of such a system, wherein when it happens – be it after 50, 100 or 250 years – it should amount to continuation of a course instead of end of the country.”

Saakashvili Delivers State of Nation Address 2009 - 12.02.2009, Civil Georgia

Below are key points of President Saakashvili’s fifth state of the nation address and follow-up debates in the parliament chamber packed with lawmakers, government members and invited foreign diplomats.

  • This is my report about the challenges and priorities the country faces;
  • Although the law does not oblige me to do that, I intend to stay and listen to the debates after my address;
  • Only the strong democracy represents right way for development for Georgia;
  • I address the part of the society, which is the most deprived... as well as to the displaced persons... I address each and every unemployed person... there are many of them...; I address pensioners.., farmers, who are not still able to find market to sale their products; I address teachers and professors, which need better working conditions; I address soldiers and policemen, who are ready to sacrifice their lives for protection of the homeland; I address businesspeople, which have no easy days today;
  • Our efforts should be directed not towards the political wrangling, but towards overcoming unemployment amid global financial crisis;
  • We have no luxury today of having ten or so priorities... Our priority is to tackle economic difficulties;
  • We have economic difficulties, but there is no economic crisis in Georgia;
  • According to our forecasts... there is hope to keep existing employment level and to even create new work places in certain sectors;
  • But it won’t be possible without maintaining political stability;
  • Our success depends on whether or not we will be able to keep unity and stability;
  • We have a three-point plan, involving directing of foreign aid towards creation of new jobs;” implementation of GEL 2.2 billion economic stimulus package and attracting foreign investments;
  • This three-point plan is not enough, we have much more to do; the economic difficulties force us to tighten our belts and the government should be the first to do so;
  • For that purpose the new PM launched his tenure with instructing the state agencies to cut administrative cost by 10%;
  • I have decided to turn the presidential residence in Tserovani [outside Tbilisi] into kindergarten;
  • The governmental residences in Zugdidi and Batumi will be sold;
  • The state should co-finance health insurance package, that can be available for large part of our citizens;
  • There will be GEL 5 health insurance policy; the state will cover GEL 3.35 [per month] and the rest will be paid by an insurance policy holder; a holder of this policy will be able to undergo urgent surgery worth of no more than GEL 5,000;
  • Russia’s aggression has significantly changed our plans regarding the scheme of increase in pensions. But be confident that in frames of our 50-month program your pension package will be equal to USD 100. Be confident that we will keep our promise.  This time we increased pensions only by 5 Lari. Of course, this increase is not significant but it means that we will not stop increasing pensions despite economic crisis and we will continue this process;
  • Our pain and an issue of special care is internally displaced persons; nothing can replace homes they have been deprived of;
  • We will make those people, who have expelled [IDPs] out of their homes, to pay through the nose; [here he used a Georgian expression, which can be translated as: to make someone bleed with vinegar from nose]; we will do that;
  • Time, which we have spend on construction of new homes for IDPs, would have been only enough for the international organizations for their paper work;
  • We will hand over half hectare plot of land to each IDP family;
  • We have managed to increase salaries for teachers by 33% and abolished practice of one-year contracts; but that is not enough; [monthly] salaries would be further increased by GEL 25 from September, 2009;
  • Our priority would be to ease conditions for our businesspeople; they are now here in this chamber and please salute them [applauses follow]; 
  • The Georgian government’s response to the global financial crisis would be more liberal environment and more protected private property; the government is in your service;
  • 166 soldiers, 19 policemen and hundreds of civilians have been killed [as a result of the August war]; 
  • Georgia is confronted by the enemy, which disregards international law and which blackmails and threatens its neighbors, the enemy, which builds military bases on our territory, while the rest of the world is calling for the demilitarization [of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia]; the enemy which is not cooperating with the international investigation;
  • This is the enemy, whose eventual goal is to wipe-out Georgia out from the world political map and no one should have an illusion about it;
  • That is why our goal is to integrate into NATO and Europe; and we are continuing moving in this direction; 
  • The Munich Security Conference has demonstrated that we have friends and allies;
  • We will achieve Georgia’s unification through peace, democracy and economy development and through cooperation with the international community;
  • We will also regulate our relations with Russia after the latter recognizes Georgia’s right of free choice;
  • Apathy, pessimism is our enemy; if we do not surrender to this enemy, we will manage to accomplish our goals.

After the address, which lasted slightly over an hour, a break has been announced, which was then followed by a response from the parliamentary majority leader, MP Petre Tsiskarishvili to the President's speech and by a rebuttal speech by parliamentary minority leader, MP Giorgi Targamadze. Chairmen of parliamentary factions are also eligible to make comments. Then the President will respond to the lawmakers’ comments.

Chairman of parliamentary faction Christian-Democrats (part of the parliamentary minority group), MP Giorgi Akhvlediani, in his comments focused on economy and asked the President how the government was planning to tackle unemployment; whether he deemed necessary or not to re-establish anti-monopoly service; what concrete measures were planned for assisting agriculture and “to protect Georgian farmers;” why a memorandum with “occupant country” – reference to Russia’s electricity trade Inter RAO – on Enguri Hydro Power Plant was not public; MP Akhvlediani also asked about the democracy and told the President that “democratic values had been devalued under your presidency;” he also asked why the events of November 7, 2007, were not investigated and those responsible for excessive use of force against protesters not punished; in his comments MP Akhvlediani also raised Girgvliani case and Robakidze case.

MP Gia Tortladze, the chairman of the parliamentary faction Strong Georgia (part of the parliamentary minority group), told the President: “restoration of justice” is essential; political pressure should be stopped on judges; condition of inmates remains hard – although some progress had been achieved in recent years; private property rights are violated; the current election code should be reformed in line with the international standards; problems of those who have become displaced persons after the August war are being addressed, but those IDPs from the Abkhaz conflict in early 90s are “forgotten;” business should “be free of political pressure;” “the media is complaining about pressure – let’s create a press house” and grant them a building for that purpose; why criminal charges are not brought against separatists leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergey Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity; we offer to create national analytical center to provide recommendations on information war against Russia.

MP Giorgi Gabashvili of parliamentary faction United National Movement (part of the ruling majority) said: we have listened from the President concrete proposals what is planned to do to tackle outstanding problems; health insurance proposal is “a revolutionary breakthrough” in this system; we have listened an elaborated plan how to tackle serious challenges we are facing and we will tackle these problems through liberal economic principles; no memorandum has been signed with “the occupant country,” a memorandum has been signed with a company to minimize threats to the energy sector; the President’s speech contained a clear message to the political parties by saying that the only way to cooperate with opponents is a dialogue.

MP Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of parliamentary minority, said in his rebuttal speech: the August war showed that there is no political system in the country, which would have helped to evade internal and foreign threats; the permanent revolutionary stance on the one hand and lack of responsible governance on the other hand is a reason behind that trend; the Christian-Democrats are strongly against of revolutions so we are calling on you [the President] to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition; we offer to set up a constitutional commission which will work on change of the current system of governance and replace the current “unilateral rule” by the President into a genuine checks-and-balances system; years ago I was telling then President Shevardnadze to make a choice in favor of genuine democracy, but he failed and ended up with the Rose Revolution [in 1999-2003 he was a lawmaker from the party of the ex-leader of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze]; although there are lot’s of political TV talk shows, a problem remains lack of independence of editorial policy on the nation-wide television stations; the August war is only a small part of the 200-year-old war with Russia and this war is not yet over.

MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, leader of the parliamentary majority, said: Russia wants to have in Tbilisi a puppet government, similar to the one it has in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi; through stability and in case of our western partners “principled approach” towards Russia, “our enemy” will be forced to de-occupy our territories; democratic reforms are one of the major point, which we need not for showing it to the international community, but we need it for our country; when MP Giorgi Targamadze says that he had been telling Shevardnadze to make a choice in favor of democracy, he’d better go to Adjara and see the difference between today’s Adjara and Adjara years ago [a reference to Targamadze’s cooperation with ex-Adjarian leader in the past]; Mr. President, our [ruling] party’s position is that the precedent of last year [when early presidential and parliamentary elections were held] should not become a rule – calling early elections after each and every difficulty makes the country more unstable.

After the lawmakers’ comments, President Saakashvili requested a short break in order “to consult with the government members” before he would respond. He also said that it was also done in order to demonstrate that “decision are not taken unilaterally” by him.

Key points of President Saakashvili response to the parliamentary minority lawmakers’ rebuttal speeches:

  • This was one of the highest level parliamentary debates ever held in the Georgian parliament;
  • My address did not aim at showing our achievements or triggering over-exaggerated optimism; as the President of the country which faces economic difficulties, I have to be realist;
  • I can not agree with the proposal of setting up of some new government agencies [MP Giorgi Akhvlediani called for re-establishing anti-monopoly agency and employment agency]; monopolies can be tackled through reducing corruption and not through setting up of anti-monopoly services and that’s what we have done; although there are some issues that need to be address, including in the pharmacy sector, related with high prices on medicines;
  • An issue of memorandum on Enguri Hydro Power Plant was raised; I want to say that our major headache would have been blacked out Georgia; we managed that there is electricity in Georgia;
  • I can share some of the proposal by the opposition lawmakers, including measure to protect middle class citizens; but we also should say that this middle class has been in fact created in recent years; no we should spare no efforts to make this middle class stronger;
  • Judiciary should be institutionally strengthened so that to prevent interference from individual officials;
  • Saakashvili ruled out stepping down before the end of his second presidential term expires. He said: it will happen in 2013, before that I will be performing my presidential duties;
  • I want to calm down Mr. Giorgi Targamadze [parliamentary minority leader], who along with some other dignified candidates, is thinking about 2013 and to tell them that I will be performing my presidential duties before 2013 and then there will be a new president, who will be elected in the democratic and free elections;
  • I agree with the proposal to reform the Statistics Department; as well as the proposal by the Christian-Democratic Party on reform and improving the National Security Council; last year I have offered one of the opposition politicians, whom we see very often on the television, to take the post of the secretary of National Security Council and also offered to reform this body; but the proposal was declined [he did not specify to whom he offered this post];
  • It was said during the debates “lost war” – losers and winners are defined when the war is over; nothing is yet over; if there is a loser in the war there should also be a winner – and you want to tell me that Russia is a winner? If Russia won this war, why it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on information war against us?
  • The Russian people are not our enemy... My sons learn the Russian language; the policy pursued by the Russian leader [Vladimir] Putin and his aggressive circle is our enemy;
  • The Russia’s current authorities want to destroy our statehood; we should confront this with our unity;
  • If we look at all the recent polls, we will see that the society needs constructive cooperation and dialogue, not the political wrangling;
  • I want to thank the opposition lawmakers for defending our interests alongside with the ruling party lawmakers in Strasbourg [at the Parliamentary]
  • Media is not an issue on which I can agree with [the opposition lawmakers]; I would be happy if the media was more professional and freer; when I receive foreign delegations and the media freedom is raised I always switch on TV, because there is always some opposition politician at any time of the day talking on TV;
  • We have defeated corruption and neither Bulgaria, Romania – which are now EU members – or even Germany can say it; we can say it – we have defeated corruption and we have defeated organized crime;
  • I think these were one of the best debates ever held in the Georgian Parliament;
  • With these debates today Georgia has passed test in democracy with success.

Saakashvili Delivers State of Nation Address 2008 - 16.09.2008, Civil Georgia

In his annual state of the nation address, President Saakashvili announced, what he called, “the launch of a new wave of democratic reforms.”

“The goal of these reforms is to have stronger parliament and more effective means for control and oversight between the branches of government; to strengthen the inviolability of private property; to make media more free and unbiased; and to make the judiciary more just and independent,” Saakashvili said.

The address was not pre-planned. President Saakashvili said he had planned to deliver his annual address on September 15 when he was due to meet 26 ambassadors from the NATO North Atlantic Council in Tbilisi.

The address took place late in the evening, shortly after President Saakashvili held a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The latter reiterated in earlier remarks that the crisis in Georgia should no way hinder democratic reforms. At a press conference, Saakashvili told foreign journalists to follow him to Parliament to listen to his new democratic reform proposals.

Parliament

In respect of Parliament, Saakashvili said in his state of the nation address that proposals would involve constitutional amendments according to which any newly elected parliament would have the right to pass a confidence vote in the government.

On May 20, just one day before the parliamentary elections, Saakashvili pledged measures to increase Parliament’s powers and he vowed “to re-submit the cabinet to a confidence vote in the new parliament” – something that has not happened so far.

In his state of the nation address, Saakashvili also pledged “to simplify procedures” to allow Parliament to call for a vote of no confidence, as well as “to make it more difficult for the president to dissolve Parliament.”

“We will work out the details of how to do that,” he added.

He also reiterated a commitment “to speed up” the process of giving the parliamentary minority additional seats in the Group of Confidence – a special parliamentary group charged with monitoring defense spending, including that related to top secret projects. Parliament has already endorsed such proposal with its first and second hearings.

Party Funding

In his address President Saakashvili reiterated his commitment to revise the authorities’ controversial decision to suspend funding for those parties, which have refused to enter into the new Parliament in protest of, what they called, rigged May 21 parliamentary elections. He voiced this commitment for the first time on August 29.

Saakashvili in addition pledged to increase funding for the parties and also to set up a special fund, “which will finance political research for the opposition parties and non-governmental organizations.”

Private Property

The president reiterated that he was ready to propose a constitutional amendment “that would allow the seizure of private property only with a court decision.”

The government announced about launch of work on an initiative similar to this in December, 2007.

In March, 2008, Public Defender Sozar Subari submitted to Parliament for consideration a draft law envisaging setting up an independent commission to probe into private property disputes between the state and owners. The ruling party, however, gave cold-shoulder to the proposal.

Broadcast Media

In his address Saakashvili acknowledged for the first time that the lack of media freedom “remains a challenge for our democracy.”

“Regarding public TV, we should secure institutionalization of debates,” he said. “And we should secure more openness of the public TV for every – even the smallest – groups. There should be frequent debates. It may be twice a week or as you decide – it is up to you to decide [referring to lawmakers].”

Currently, there is no political talk-show on any national TV station. The Georgian Public Broadcaster’s bi-weekly program Comment of the Day was suspended under the pretext of summer holidays, originally till September, but the program has yet to resume.

Saakashvili said he was focusing on the public TV because he had no intention “to stick his nose into in private TV stations’ business.” Two national private television stations – Imedi and Rustavi 2 TV – are both regarded as being under the control of the authorities.

Judiciary

President Saakashvili said that “the backbone and guarantor of our democracy” was the judicial system.

After “cleaning the judiciary of corruption,” Saakashvili said Georgia now “needs a more just, more independent and stronger judiciary.”

“That’s why we have to launch a new wave of judicial reform aimed at building a more independent and more just judicial system,” he said.

Saakashvili proposed that judges be appointed for life. “This is an additional guarantee that judges will feel more protected, hence they will be more independent,” he said.

Another reform, he continued, would be the appointment of opposition figures to the Supreme Council of Justice - the body overseeing the judicial system. The proposal has already been endorsed by the Parliament this June.

He said that the introduction of a jury system was also on the cards. Its introduction has been in the pipeline for a long time with a start date sometime next year, according to an initial plan. At the first stage, juries will only be used in trials dealing with homicide and other grave crimes.

‘Ready to Cooperate with Opposition as Never Before’

President Saakashvili said in his address that unlike Russia – where the authorities, according to him, had further strengthened their grip on the media and business – Georgia’s response to post-war reconstruction would be “more democracy and freedom.”

“Many countries might have said that less democracy and less transparency and more control by a small group of people was needed against the background of war,” Saakashvili said. “Georgia, which is a beacon of democracy in this region, however, says that our response to Russia’s aggression will be more democracy, more freedom and more progress.”

He said that the authorities recently had undertaken a number of “important steps” to help increase the role and powers of the opposition in Parliament.

“I welcome the fact that we have managed to find a common language with the opposition on such key issues as Georgia’s unity,” Saakashvili said.

He again reiterated that he was ready to grant some executive powers to the Anti-Crisis Council – a body, which he has proposed for overseeing the distribution of humanitarian aid and foreign aid funds. Only some opposition parties, mainly those from the parliamentary minority, have agreed to cooperate with the authorities in the frames of the Anti-Crisis Council. Most of the opposition parties, however, rejected the proposal claiming that it was part of the authorities’ propaganda.

Saakashvili described those opposition parities as “a small part of the opposition… which has preferred to get Georgia back into the situation of permanent quarrels and political confrontation.”

“Do not forget that today Georgia as never before needs our unity and our cooperation,” he told those parties. “I am ready for cooperation with you as never before.”

He, however, did not name specific issues on which he was offering cooperation.
“We did not want this war, but as it turned out to be impossible to avert this war, let us not allow the plotters of this war to achieve their major goal, which was the destruction of Georgia,” he continued. “We should now become stronger and afterwards we all – the authorities and the opposition – will have better prospects, our grandchildren will have better prospects.”

He then reiterated earlier statement about an official readiness to answer all questions about what had led to the war.

“Of course there are questions; I welcome them,” Saakashvili said. “I want the process to be fully transparent; I have called for an international inquiry and I have called for parliamentary debates [on the matter]; I request you to set up a group of rapporteurs and hold political debates about the events of recent weeks; let the opposition be in the majority in this group; all the ministries and officials – I myself am ready to meet this group – are ready to answer all questions.”

The president focused mostly on an intra-parliamentary formatted inquiry, which is unacceptable to most opposition parties, especially those who are boycotting Parliament.

Saakashvili also called on the opposition to initiate their own proposal and “we are ready to seriously consider them.”


Saakashvili Delivers State of Nation Address 2007 - 15.03.2007, Civil Georgia

President Saakashvili unveiled new plans for tax reforms and Tbilisi’s intention to launch official talks with the Tbilisi-loyal self-imposed leaders of South Ossetia during his third state of the nation address to the Parliament on March 15.

In the hour-and-a-half address Saakashvili mainly spoke about “Georgia’s achievements” in 2006, which he described as a year of “challenges and big victories”. He said that he stands proud at the parliamentary chamber podium because most of his administration’s promises have been kept.
 
Tax Reform

Saakashvili unveiled plans to carry out tax reforms involving a reduction of the number of taxes and the introduction of, as he put it, an independent tax arbitration system.

He said that the government is ready to reduce profit tax from the current 20% to 15% starting from 2008.

The plan also envisages combining the 12% income tax and 20% social tax.

“I have already instructed the government to start working on combining the income tax and social tax – both of them now add up to 32% - and to reduce this combined tax to 25%,” Saakashvili said.

He said the new initiative will be a continuation of a trend launched by his administration two years ago, when new reduced taxes were enforced starting from 2005.

Saakashvili said in the past two years the government reduced taxes by a total of 40%, and decreased customs dues.

“But, because of the eradication of corruption and improvement of administration, tax and customs revenues have increased in the country,” the President says.

He said that tax reform will also envisage the introduction of a new independent body with the involvement of foreign arbiters for carrying out impartial adjudication of tax disputes between the state and taxpayers.
 
“We want to set up a commission that will solve tax disputes. We will invite foreign judges for this purpose. We are already working on this issue with EU-member countries, and this [commission] will have the final say in tax disputes,” the Georgian President said.

Secessionist Conflicts

Tbilisi should launch official relations and talks with the alternative authorities of breakaway South Ossetia, President Saakashvili said for the first time since Tbilisi-loyal authorities led by ex-defense minister of breakaway South Ossetia Dimitri Sanakoev were installed in the Georgian village of Kurta in the conflict zone last November.

He said that 2006 was “very important year” for the residents of South Ossetia because the “free part” of this population demonstrated its “trust towards local Ossetian leaders” during the elections last November.

“Dimitri Sanakoev's movement has been set up. Sanakoev, [Prime Minister of Kurta-based authorities Uruzmag] Karkusov and others are individuals who were in the forefront of local separatism in its fight against the central authorities. But today, as their platform envisages peaceful co-existence within a united Georgia, naturally with full guarantees to protect ethnic Ossetians’ interests, they have managed to find a common language with the local ethnic Georgians, which I think is a unique case in the history of the conflicts; I think we should not lose this chance,” Saakashvili said.
 
“Therefore, I think that we should announce our readiness to launch official relations and negotiations with Sanakoev’s movement; we should show everyone the Ossetian and Georgia peoples’ strong aspiration towards a peaceful and successful future and we will do this in the near future,” he said.

The announcement is expected to trigger angry reactions from Tskhinvali and Moscow.

Saakashvili also said that Tbilisi is ready to talk “with all parties involved in this conflict.”

“But first of all we are talking with our citizens and not to a certain group that has monopolized the right to talk on behalf of every citizen of the region,” Saakashvili added.

In his speech Saakashvili also denounced the terms “Georgian-Abkhazian conflict” and “Georgian-Ossetian conflict” as phrases “created by silly and unaware people.”

“What does the Georgian-Ossetian conflict mean? Who represents the Ossetian side? Does Mr. [Yuri] Morozov [Russian citizen who serves as prime minister of breakaway South Ossetia] represent the Ossetian side? Or does Mr. [Anatoly] Barankevych [also Russian citizen who was defense minister of breakaway South Ossetia] represent the Ossetian side? Or does Dimitri Sanakoev [Tbilisi-loyal self-imposed leader of South Ossetia] represent the Ossetian side? Do the Georgian and Ossetian sides exist at all? Several of the most famous kings of Georgia were ethnic Ossetians. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict does not exist at all. This is one more fabrication by imperial ideologists,” Saakashvili said.

He also said that same refers to the Abkhaz case, because Malkhaz Akishbaia, head of the Tbilisi-loyal Abkhaz government-in-exile, is an ethnic Abkhazian.
  
“The entire population of Abkhazia was about 600 000 [before the armed conflict] and now it is less than 100 000; the rest was expelled from Abkhazia, but are they not the legitimate population of Abkhazia? Of course they are the legitimate population of Abkhazia,” Saakashvili said.

He also criticized the current Russian-led peacekeeping and negotiating arrangements for the conflicts as “discredited and ineffective” and called for “a smooth transformation into more flexible and effective formats.”

“Of course, we seek more active involvement from the European institutions and the United States in it [peace process]… Everybody understands that its [current peacekeeping and negotiating format’s] preservation in its current form is practically impossible,” Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili reiterated that Tbilisi is ready to grant both Abkhazia and South Ossetia “broad autonomy in compliance with European standards.”

He also said that the Georgian side should demonstrate “enough patience and flexibility” to avoid provocations and tensions.

Saakashvili said that 2006 marked “an important stage” in the process of restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity by regaining control over upper Kodori Gorge in breakaway Abkhazia.

“It [Tbilisi’s control over upper Kodori] frightens our enemies… Some people wanted this territory to become a safe haven for bandits; but instead it now has the legitimate Abkhaz government[-in-exile],” he added.

Judiciary System Reform

President Saakashvili said that the first stage of judiciary reforms, aiming for the eradication of corruption in the system, has been successfully completed.

He said that as a result of this reform many corrupt judges have been sacked from their positions.

Saakashvili said the next stage of the reform, the creation of a system where there will be no need for interference in the judiciary’s functioning, is now being launched.
 
“Today criticism of the judiciary is widespread, as if the courts are not independent… However, there is no corruption in the judiciary today and this is our common achievement, this is the first important stage in the judicial reforms… and the next stage envisages the creation of a mechanism of reputation [for the judiciary] and self-regulation wherein a conscience will be established so that no external interference will be necessary for this system to function,” President Saakashvili said.

He said that the judiciary’s independence will be further increased after the introduction of a court jury system next year.

“Society itself will assume civil responsibility and we should believe that it will cope with this task,” Saakashvili stated.

A February 2007 public opinion survey funded by USAID and commissioned by the International Republican Institute (IRI) showed that public confidence in the courts was 23%. The courts rated fourteenth in the list of sixteen most-trusted institutions, with the Orthodox Church leading the list, followed by the army, media and the police.

Anti-Drug Campaign

Saakashvili said that the crime rate has been reduced in the country, because last year “we announced zero tolerance to crime.”

He said that the fight against criminal bosses and the criminal mentality has led to an increase of the number of inmates in Georgia’s prisons, adding that the government should improve conditions in the penitentiary system.

“Instead of a country with a criminal mentality, we now live in new Georgia where the criminal world has been destroyed,” Saakashvili said.  

He said that the fight against drug dealers will now become a major focus.

Saakashvili said he plans to propose a draft law envisaging the confiscation of property from drug dealers.
 
“I offer you to adopt a law through which drug dealers will not only be jailed, but their property acquired through making our citizens unhappy will be fully confiscated,” Saakashvili told lawmakers.

Economic/Trade Growth

Saakashvili said that despite Russia’s economic embargo on Georgia, there was an “impressive 10% economic growth” in 2006.

“Our traditional market [Russia] has been totally closed down for us; but regardless of this fact Georgia’s trade turnover in 2006 has reached USD 5 billion, which is 40% more than in 2005,” Saakashvili said.

He said that Georgia’s exports also increased by 15% in 2006 as a result of the diversification of Georgia’s foreign trade.

Georgia’s trade turnover, according to Saakashvili, with Turkey and the EU increased by 40% and 45%, respectively, and trade has doubled with Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

“We plan to sign a free trade agreement with Turkey, which will give even more opportunities to attract more investments and eradicate trade barriers,” Saakashvili said.

He also said that 2006 was a year of “big investments,” with the attraction of USD 1.12 billion in foreign direct investments.

Saakashvili said that the United States has become the top investor in Georgia’s economy, followed by EU-member countries.

He said that 2006 was a year of the “creation of new jobs.” A total of 40 000 new companies were set up last year, according to the President.
 
Free Economic Zone

President Saakashvili said that the government is now “intensively working” on the creation of free economic zones on its Black Sea coast.
 
“We are launching active work in order to create free economic zones in the Black Sea regions of Guria and Samegrelo. For this purpose we will share the experience of Dubai. This is definitely a brave decision and of course, it will be accompanied by certain risks. Indeed, we need the laws to be strictly observed in order to avoid any inaccuracies there. But we have a chance, due to our position and location, to attract tens of billions of dollars within the next two-three years,” Saakashvili said.
 
He also said that government members are actively studying the experience of various countries in this regard.
 
“I personally visited Dubai. Others [members of the government] visited Singapore, Hong-Kong. We have studied their experience. Georgia has a unique chance for it. It will serve not only Poti [Black Sea port] and this Black Sea region, but it will serve all of Georgia,” he said.

‘Europe First and Foremost’

The President said that moving towards Europe is Georgia’s major foreign policy course.

“Georgia is returning to its European family. We are not simply Europeans, we are ancient Europeans… Europe is our major direction,” Saakashvili said.

“Europe first of all – this is the major slogan of our foreign policy,” he added.

Saakashvili said that Georgia will follow its action plan with the EU in as outlined in the European Neighborhood Policy “and we want to have full coordination [with the EU] in security, politics and economics.”

He also reiterated Georgia’s ambition to join NATO and hailed a memorandum signed by the leading political groups, including those of some opposition parties, calling for Georgia’s NATO-membership.

Army

Saakashvili said that today Georgia is ready for “any kind of challenge,” as it has much stronger army than the country had 4-5 years ago.

“I want everyone to realize difference between the current situation [in the armed forces] and the one that existed 4-5 years ago. Four years ago we only had slingshots [a reference to remarks by Georgia’s ex-defense minister Davit Tevzadze, who said in 2002 after Russia’s air attack on Pankisi Gorge that he has nothing to shoot except slingshots], and now we have air defense systems. At that time we had an undressed, unarmed and unmotivated army, today we have well-trained and well-equipped armed forces,” Saakashvili said.

He said that the Ministry of Defense has recently launched an important program for recruiting highly-qualified professionals in the Georgian army.

“We need 1 000 university graduate officers in the army. We will provide them with social guarantees to create an elite corps of officers in the Georgian army,” Saakashvili said.

--------------

The opposition criticized the presidential address. The opposition lawmakers wanted the President to speak more about problems in the judiciary system, as well as comment on the high-profile murder cases of Sandro Girgvliani and Amiran Robakidze.


Saakashvili Delivers State of Nation Address 2006 - 14.02.2006, Civil Georgia

In his second annual state of the nation address to the Parliament on February 14, President Saakashvili said that Georgia has become a country with rapidly growing economy, which has the chance to join NATO by 2008. 

In an 80-minute flamboyant speech, packed with excerpts from the patriotic Georgian verses, Saakashvili also voiced several initiatives he plans to propose to the Parliament in the near future.

Economic Growth
 
President Saakashvili said that Georgia’s economy is “growing rapidly,” which will enable the country to overcome poverty by 2009.

“Today we are still a very poor state from the economic point of view, but we are on the path which will help us overcome problems… GDP is expected to reach USD 1670 per capita in 2006; in 2010 GDP will be USD 2400 per capita, this means that by 2009 Georgia will no longer be classified as a poor state,” President Saakashvili said.

He said that GDP growth was about 9% in 2005. “This is despite the fact that oil prices increased last year,” Saakashvili added.

The President said that the government privatized 816 facilities in 2005. “Total revenue from the privatization process last year amounted to GEL 522 million [USD 290 million],” he said.

Saakashvili also said that the foreign trade turnout increased by 33% in 2005. “What is most important is that we increased export by 36% last year,” he added.

But he said that despite a breakthrough in many areas, the customs system still remains an unsolved problem.

“Hundreds of customs officers were arrested for bribery but it still did not help. We need a new, liberal customs code,” Saakashvili said.

He said that the government plans liberalization of the customs system by cutting the number of customs dues from the current 16 to 3.

“We will have customs dues rated zero, five and twelve percents… and within the next two years we should introduce all zero-rated customs dues… which will be a very serous step towards liberalizing the economy,” Saakashvili said.

“This means that we will have GEL 80 million less income going to the budget, but you should know that this money will be a huge investment in the economy in a long-term perspective,” Saakashvili said.

He said that the banking system also needs to be liberalized, to ease procedures for foreign banks to enter the Georgian market. He said that the labor code, as well as bankruptcy legislation, should also be liberalized.

Infrastructure Development

Saakashvili said that Georgia started a large-scale road construction projects and infrastructure rehabilitation in the country.

“This year and next year we will construct more roads than were made in Soviet times. For the first time in the past 30 years a tunnel was opened [in the Adjara Autonomous Republic]… 83 bridges were reconstructed… in 2005 we launched the construction of a highway in western Georgia. In 2006-2008 we plan to finish a modern Tbilisi-Khashuri highway,” he said.

Saakashvili described the planned rehabilitation of the road in the predominantly Armenian populated Samtskhe-Javakheti region as “a political act of historic importance.”

He also said that reconstruction of cities is also underway. “We have ambition to create modern architecture, which will remain for dozens and hundreds of years,” he added.

Energy Security

While commenting on the recent energy crisis in Georgia, which erupted after two gas pipelines were blown-up in Russia’s North Ossetia on January 22, Saakashvili said that Georgia was prepared for this crisis, “because we knew that something like this could have happened.”

He also slammed those opponents who criticized the Georgian leadership for making tough-worded statements and directly accusing Moscow of masterminding those explosions.

“Some [opponents] asked why I voiced loud protest [towards Russia]. We already had a President [Eduard Shevardnadze] who kept his mouth shut like a dead man when pipes were blown up in previous times. And what good it has brought to Georgia? Of course I voiced protest and I will voice protest every time, because we have pride,” Saakashvili said.

He also said that the government will actively work on securing alternative sources of energy supplies.

“We were working over alternatives because we knew that our ‘friends’ were able to do this [blow up the gas pipelines]… We have reconstructed the pipeline with Azerbaijan, we have restored possible gas delivery routes from Iran; of course we are working on the Shah-Deniz project, we are working with European importers so that they can use our transit capabilities,” Saakashvili said.

He said that for the first time since independence, Georgia now has a round-the-clock electricity supply.
 
Fighting Crime

President Saakashvili outlined the vigorous fight against crime as one of the priorities of the authorities and said that “zero tolerance towards petty crime” will be the authorities’ policy.

He hailed the Georgian law enforcement agencies, but said that they need “legislative support” to improve their fight against crime.

Saakashvili slammed judges for, as he put it, showing too much mercy towards criminal suspects.
 
“Police will round up thieves but the next day a ‘kind’ judge, like [Merab] Turava [one of the judges who has recently accused the authorities of mounting pressure on the judiciary] will release them… Why do they release them and where? They release them back onto the street,” Saakashvili said.

“I am initiating a new draft law: zero tolerance towards even petty crime. I am initiating amendments to the criminal code, which envisage banning conditional sentences for house burglary, street robbery, possession of drugs and other petty offenses. 'No' to conditional sentence; everyone who commits these [crimes] should go to jail,” the President enthusiastically stated.

“For this reason we are now constructing a new pre-trial detention center in Tbilisi, which will house 3000 persons,” he added.

“Zero tolerance towards even petty offenses – this is our new, firm policy. I am saying this to let everyone understand this – the courts, the Parliament, the executive authorities, the police - everyone,” Saakashvili stated.

Army/NATO

Saakashvili said that Georgia will become a NATO membership candidate this year and will most likely join the alliance in 2008. 

“We are very close to NATO [membership]… I want to announce today that Georgia has a real chance to become a NATO member in 2008. This year we will become a NATO membership candidate country,” Saakashvili said.

“This [NATO membership] means that Georgia’s borders will be NATO’s borders and these borders will be defended not by our tanks and planes, but it will be defended by several thousands western planes,” he added.

He said that Georgia currently has “the smallest army in the region, but it is the best equipped army.”

“We are a peaceful nation, but in this region, with plenty of threats, we need to have a strong army,” he added.

Conflicts

In his address President Saakashvili said nothing about his position on the ongoing debates about the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping forces from the South Ossetian conflict zone.

Parliament is expected to adopt a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers on February 15.

But he said during his address that “there is no alternative to Georgia’s reunification.”

“We have peace plans [to solve the conflicts],” he added.

“We will be friends to the Abkhazians and Ossetians…  We want our Ossetians back in Georgia. These people are an organic part of the Georgian mentality,” Saakashvili said.

He also said that Russia’s attempt to push a policy of universality of the Kosovo "example will be eradicated by Georgia and the international community."

Education

Saakashvili spoke much about the education system and said that reforms in this system eradicated corruption and established equal opportunities. He said a large scale programs for schools throughout Georgia is underway envisaging reconstruction of old schools and construction of about 30 new schools. He also said that computerization program for schools is also underway.

Reactions

Opposition parliamentarians criticized the President for not focusing on problems during his speech.

“[From the President’s speech] we could not understand what his position on the peacekeepers is; how the authorities plan to address problems… This was not a speech by a politician, it was a speech by a street-rally leader,” MP Kakha Kukava of the opposition Conservative Party said.

“His information and figures about the economy were extremely exaggerated… But on the other hand, he at least did not start attacking his opponents again, which is of course positive,” MP Levan Berdzenishvili of the opposition Republican Party said.



Saakashvili Delivers State of Nation Address 2005 - 10.02.2005, Civil Georgia

In his first-ever state of the nation address to the Parliament on February 10 Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said that the country has made the step from being a failed state into becoming a state since the 2003 Rose Revolution.

In his one-hour long annual report to the Parliament and nation, the President spoke about Georgia’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as the achievements made and those “numerous challenges” Georgia faces ahead.

In the address, which has already been described by the opposition New Rights parliamentary faction as “a stage-show,” the President was mainly appealing to the ordinary citizens of Georgia. Representatives from various professions, including “successful” teachers, soldiers and patrol police officers, were invited to attend the parliamentary session. Saakashvili thanked each of them separately for their activities in an attempt to add a more emotional element to the address.

Achievements

Mikheil Saakashvili started his speech by listing the successes which the country’s new government achieved over the past year. He listed the reintegration of Adjara, curbing of corruption and smuggling, creation of a people-friendly Patrol Police and the creation of the Financial Police, designed to fight smuggling, as the major achievements of the government.

He emphasized the process of “building a new, not large, but well-trained armed forces,” as well as the launch of training of the reserve forces.

“To gain peace we need to be a strong nation and a strong army is the major component in this process,” he said.

He also listed the privatization process launched last year among those successful initiatives begun by the country’s leadership. “We need privatization in order to attract investment and to create jobs,” Saakashvili said.

The President stated that the energy sector, education, the healthcare system and defense will be the sectors that the government intends to allocate revenues received from this privatization process.

He said that the government “could cover all the pension and salary backlogs,” as well as increase revenues. In this regard he stressed the role of Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli, whom the President recently nominated for the position of Prime Minister.

“This was the major reason why I decided to nominate Zurab Nogaideli. The person who could increase revenues and repay the entire pension and salary backlog needed to be promoted,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.
 
Problems, Road Ahead

Saakashvili said that despite these achievements, the country faces “numerous challenges ahead.” He listed unemployment, reform of the judiciary and education systems and self-governance among them.

He said that “the government failed to create new jobs in the private sector and establish a European-style economy.”

“Yes, we have fired many officials from the governmental structures and it was an irreversible process but at the same time we could not create new jobs in the private sector,” he said.

Saakashvili stated that development of services and tourism is one of the major priorities for the government. “But development of infrastructure is necessary first,” he added.

Saakashvili said that there should be no set backs in the process of reforming the education and judiciary system.

“We should achieve a real independence for the judiciary branch, which does not exist now. Kote Kemularia [Chairman of the Supreme Court, who has been nominated as the new Justice Minister] will work hard over this issue at his new post,” Saakashvili stated.

The President said he is not ready “to appoint all the officials in the region from the center.”

“Mayors of all the cities should be elected starting next year,” he said.

Saakashvili did not specify, though, whether these elections should be direct or whether the mayors should be elected by members of elected councils.

President Saakashvili also said that the number of parliamentarians should be reduced from the current 235 to 150, as it was decided by the national referendum carried in November, 2003.

“2,300,000 voters said that the number of MPs should be no more than 150 and if we fail to implement this, it will be humiliating for these voters. There should be at least 50 MPs elected in the single-mandate constituencies [instead of the current 75], and MPs elected through party-list should also remain,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.

He said that a two-chamber Parliament should be established; however he did not specify when this may occur.

Foreign Policy

President Mikeil Saakashvili said that Georgia “has turned into an attractive country for the rest of the world.”

“And this has not happened because Georgia is just a corridor,” he said, referring to the word frequently used to describe Georgia’s role in the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the TRASECA transport corridor begun by Eduard Shevardnadze's administration.

He said that Georgia “has ideal relations with its neighbors,” listing Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. “And we should care for these ideal relations,” Saakashvili added.

He stressed that “another state in the post-Soviet space has emerged recently with aspirations similar to those of Georgia – Ukraine.”

But the President emphasized that there are still problems with Russia. He called on Russia for mutual compromise.

Saakashvili said he is ready to travel to Moscow and again extend a hand of friendship, “which has been hanging [in the air] for one year,” to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Last February, when President Saakashvili traveled to Moscow and met President Putin, the Georgian President said he visited Moscow in order “to extend his hand of friendship” to Putin.

“We face particular problems in our relationship with Russia; however this mistake should be corrected through mutual compromises. This should occur on the basis of defending bilateral interests,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.  

He reiterated once again that Georgia will not host military bases of third countries on its soil.












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19.03.2009 Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel zum Europäischen Rat und G20-Gipfel
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04.12.2008 Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel zum Europäischen Rat in Brüssel
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29.09.2008 Regierungserklärung von Bundesfinanzminister Peer Steinbrück
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18.01.2008 Regierungserklärung von Bundesumweltminister Gabriel
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14.06.2007 Regierungserklärung der Bundeskanzlerin: Vorschau auf den Europäischen Rat am 21. und 22. Juni 2007
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24.05.2007 Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel zum G8-Weltwirtschaftsgipfel vom 6. bis 8. Juni 2007 in Heiligendamm
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Europa braucht diese Verfassung
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Die vergangenen Tage standen nicht nur in Deutschland, sondern in d ...
12.05.2005
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 17. März
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Vor fast genau zwei Jahren habe ich im Deutschen Bundestag die Agenda 2010 vorgestellt. ...
17.03.2005
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zur Einigung der Staats- und Regierungschefs der Europäischen Union auf eine Europäische Verfassung
Regierungserklärung BK Schröder zur EU-VerfassungFrau Präsidentin! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Vor 14 Tagen haben sich die Staats- und Regierung ...
02.07.2004
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag
Regierungserklärung des Kanzlers zur EU-Erweiterung- Es gilt das gesprochene Wort -Herr Präsident,meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren!Am morgigen 1. Mai ...
30.04.2004
 100%
Egoismus überwinden - Gemeinsinn fördern: Unser Weg zu neuer Stärke - Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder
Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur Reformpolitik am 25. März 2004Es gilt das gesprochene Wort!Herr Präsident,meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herre ...
25.03.2004
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Regierungserklärung von Bundesminister Joschka Fischer zum Europäischen Rat in Brüssel
Regierungserklärung BM Fischer zum EU-Rat in BrüsselFrau Präsidentin! Meine Damen und Herren! Europa steht vor einer der wichtigsten Weichenstellungen seiner jüng ...
11.12.2003
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"Deutschland bewegt sich - Mehr Dynamik für Wachstum und Beschäftigung", Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 3. Juli 2003
Regierungserklärung des Kanzlers vom 3. JuliDie Agenda 2010 hat in Deutschland ein neues Denken bewirkt, zeigte sich ...
03.07.2003
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder am 3. April 2003 zur internationalen Lage und den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rates in Brüssel
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! In ihrer Verantwortung für Frieden und Sicherheit hat sich die Bundesregierung stets von folgenden Grundsä ...
03.04.2003
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder am 14. März 2003 vor dem Deutschen Bundestag
Ausgangspunkt für die Überlegungen zur "Agenda 2010" war die Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder am 14. Mä ...
14.03.2003
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"Unsere Verantwortung für den Frieden" Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zur aktuellen internationalen Lage am 13. Februar 2003
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Deutschland trägt Verantwortung, Verantwortung im Kampf gegen den internationalen Terrorismus, Verantwortu ...
13.02.2003
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zu den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rates in Kopenhagen
Am vergangenen Wochenende ist den europäischen Staats- und Regierungschefs gelungen, wonach sich unsere Väter und Großväter nur sehnen konnten ...
19.12.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundesaußenminister Fischer zum NATO-Gipfel am 21. und 22. November in Prag
Fischer: "Wir müssen politische und soziale Konflikte lösen, die den Nährboden für die Entstehung der Gewalt und des Terrorismus darstellen. Krisenprävention ist ...
14.11.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 29. Oktober 2002 in Berlin
Gerechtigkeit im Zeitalter der Globalisierung schaffen - für eine Partnerschaft in Verantwortung"Herr Präsident!Meine sehr verehrten Damen un ...
29.10.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder am 29. August 2002 zur Hochwasserkatastrophe
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Die verheerende Hochwasserkatastrophe, die in den vergangenen Wochen Sachsen, Sachsen-A ...
29.08.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur Lage der Wirtschaft in Deutschland
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Nach einem Bericht der Vereinten Nationen, der jüngst erschienen ist, erlebte die We ...
04.07.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zum Thema Bildung und Innovation
Bildung ist für mich das zentrale Thema moderner Gesellschafts­politik und Zukunftsgestaltung. Der Zugang zu den Bildun ...
13.06.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur Zukunftssicherheit durch Nachhaltigkeit
In seiner Regierungserklärung hat Bundeskanzler Schröder über Politik für Wachstum, Wohlstand und Beschäftigung und über di ...
16.05.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur Lage im Nahen Osten
Die aktuelle Entwicklung im Nahen Osten erfüllt uns alle mit tiefer Sorge. Eine weitere Zuspitzung des Konflikts gefährdet ...
25.04.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur Familienpolitik
Familie ist, wo Kinder sind - Politik für ein familien- und kinderfreundliches Deutschland" Herr Präsident! ...
18.04.2002
 100%
Regierungserklärung von Bundesumweltminister Jürgen Trittin zur 2. und 3. Lesung des Gesetzentwurfs zur Ratifikation des Kyoto-Protokolls
Das Kyoto-Protokoll legt erstmals eine international verbindliche absolute Obergrenze für die Emission von Treibhausgasen fest. Mit der Ratifika ...
22.03.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zu den Ergebnissen des Europäisches Rates von Barcelona
Auch in Deutschland stehen die Zeichen längst auf Aufschwung. Das belegen die Zuwächse bei den Umsätzen in der Industrie und die Steigerung be ...
21.03.2002
 100%
Regierungserklärung von Bundesverbraucherschutzministerin Künast zum vorsorgenden Verbraucherschutz
Herr Präsident! Sehr geehrte Abgeordnete! Meine Damen und Herren! Verbraucherschutz betrifft alle. Immer mehr Menschen wollen wissen, wie Produkt ...
15.03.2002
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zum Europäischen Rat in Laeken am 14./15. Dezember 2001
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren!Es ist nicht das erste Mal in der Nachkriegsgeschichte, dass die Völker Europas aufgrund schwieriger Ent ...
12.12.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zur aktuellen Lage nach Beginn der Operation gegen den internationalen Terrorismus in Afghanistan
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Am 7. Oktober haben die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika als Teil der notwendigen Ant ...
11.10.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zu den Anschlägen in den USA
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr ver­ ehrten Damen und Herren! In meiner Regierungserklärung vom 12. September habe ich, bezo ...
19.09.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zum Terrorakt in den USA
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren!Der gestrige 11. September 2001 wird als ein schwarzer Tag für uns alle in die Geschicht ...
12.09.2001
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Regierungserklärung des Bundeskanzlers zum Länderfinanzausgleich und Solidarpakt II
Herr Präsident! Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! In den letzten Jahren ist viel über einen angeblich schwerfälligen deutschen Föderalism ...
29.06.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zu den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rates in Göteborg
Herr Präsident!Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Bevor ich auf die Ergebnisse des Europäischen Rates in Göteborg einge ...
21.06.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vor dem Deutschen Bundestag zu den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rates in Nizza
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Der Europäische Rat von Nizza hatte ein überragendes Ziel, nämlich die Europäische U ...
19.01.2001
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zum Europäischen Rat in Nizza vor dem Deutschen Bundestag am 28.11.2000 in Berlin
Herr Präsident!Meine Damen und Herren! In der kommenden Woche werden die Staats- und Regierungschefs der Europäischen Union ...
28.11.2000
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Schröder zum "Stand des Vereinigungsprozesses 10 Jahre nach Herstellung der staatlichen Einheit"
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort!Herr Präsident,meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren!Zehn Jahre deutsche Einheit - das ist ein stolzes Jubiläum. ...
29.09.2000
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zur wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung Deutschlands
Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Zweifel sind nicht mehr erlaubt: Es gibt in Deutschland einen kräftigen Wirtschaftsaufschwung, und zwar ...
25.05.2000
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zu den Ergebnissen der Sondertagung des Europäischen Rates vom 23./24. März 2000 in Lissabon
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort. Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident, meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren! Der Europäische Rat von Lissabon setzt d ...
06.04.2000
 100%
Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zum Stand der deutschen Einheit
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort! Anrede, Vor 10 Jahren und zwei Tagen fiel hier in Berlin nach 28 Jahren die Mauer. Sie wurde von Ost nach We ...
11.11.1999
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zum Thema "Globalisierung gemeinsam gestalten"
Anrede! An diesem Wochenende werde ich mit den Staats- und Regierungschefs der anderen G8-Staaten zum Wirtschaftsgipfel in Köln zusammentreff ...
16.06.1999
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zu den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rates am 3./4. Juni 1999 in Köln und zum Stand der Friedensbemühungen im Kosovo-Konflikt
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort! Anrede, der Europäische Rat in Köln in der vergangenen Woche wird als Gipfel in Erinnerung bleiben, der eine ...
08.06.1999
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Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder anläßlich des 50. Jahrestages der Gründung der Nordatlantikpakt-Organisation
Anrede! An diesem Wochenende werden die Staats- und Regierungschefs der NATO-Mitgliedstaaten in Washington zusammenkommen. Eigentlich hätten ...
22.04.1999
 100%
Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder zum Stand der deutschen Einheit
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort! Anrede! Heute, so schreibt eine große deutsche Zeitung, "beginnt die neue Zeit." Das mag ein wenig übertrieben k ...
22.04.1999

Regierungserklärung von Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder vom 10. November 1998 vor dem Deutschen Bundestag
Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder gab in der 3. Sitzung des Deutschen Bundestages am 10. November 1998 folgende Regierungserklärung ab:Herr Präsi ...
10.11.1998
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