President Saakashvili said at a meeting with leading Georgian businesspeople on November 10 that the country had passed a vital test for statehood with the successful handling of the November 7 unrest. He pledged that Georgia would remain a liberal democracy and despite “certain losses” inflicted as a result of recent developments, Georgia would regain lost ground after the January 5 presidential polls.
State of Emergency
President Saakashvili brushed off western pressure and said he would lift the state of emergency only when he considered it appropriate and not upon “instruction from foreign friends.”
The president, however, did tell the business people on November 10, that it would happen “in a few days.”
“I understand our friends' impatience, and that they do not like this state of emergency,” he said. “Of course it [the state of emergency] will be lifted in a few days. But it will happen when we decide it is appropriate to do so and not when someone tells us to do it. It will happen only when I, as the leader of this country, am absolutely sure that all the risks are totally removed. I am sure this will happen in the next few days.”
“But we will not do it under anyone’s instruction. I want to tell both our friends and ill-wishers – I will not take orders from anyone. Because I have responsibility not towards a foreign minister of any foreign country, but I have responsibility for the country's future historical legacy for the next thousand years.”
He said that the government would not sacrifice the country’s long-term interests for short-term gains.
“Our duty is not to make [foreign] people like our actions; we are responsible for the country’s future. And that is my answer to everyone. We know much better what is good for Georgia in both the short-term and long-term.”
‘Test in Statehood Passed’
Saakashvili said that although Georgia had suffered “certain losses” as a result of recent developments, the country had, as he put it, “passed a major test in statehood.”
“We have passed the test on whether we are Bantustan or a real state, whether we are a failed state, or whether we have a real government, whether we have society, or just a few dozen people purporting to be society. Of course, Georgia has society,” Saakashvili said.
Then Saakashvili said that he had been given a first hand demonstration of people's gratitude for the government's tough measures in restoring law and order in Tbilisi.
“I visited one of the facilities [in Tbilisi] prior to coming here and I saw how people met me in the street – something I haven't seen in months. It reminded me of 2003 – the post-revolutionary period,” Saakashvili said. Immediately after the Rose Revolution Saakashvili was often greeted by crowds chanting his name - “Misha, Misha.”
“I stopped the car twice today,” he then continued. “At one place there were several street traders - women between 60-70 years of age – who started crying when they saw me; their emotions were triggered not by me but by the situation in itself, with the women understanding that this country has a real government, which is capable of protecting them.”
The president acknowledged that, what he called, the means used to restore order – referring to the dispersal of protesters – “does not look attractive.” He said he personally had “assumed responsibility for everything.”
“I told our policemen to act within the law, to act uncompromisingly, to be very careful, of course and if there were bad results, I would share the responsibility with them. I will always protect you, I told them, and you should understand that you are responsible for preventing negative things,” he said. “God ensured that nothing bad happened in the country. Most victims are actually policemen. I do not know whether it is bad or not. Only the state has a monopoly on the use of force. Nobody has the right to attack policemen.”
“The state has always used and will use all necessary means at its disposal to protect not the government, but society, public order, including businesses, and the Georgian people.”
‘Georgian Russian-turned Oligarch’
In his speech Saakashvili attacked business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, without mentioning him by name; instead he was refered to as a ‘subject’ [meaning, 'that person']and ‘a Georgian Russian-turned oligarch.’
He said that on October 31, when the Georgian government held an Invest in Georgia conference “with huge success” in London, Patarkatsishvili was engaged in a black PR campaign against Georgia.
“In London one Georgian Russian-turned oligarch was running from one investor to another, telling them: Are you crazy? Why are you investing in Georgia? It is very dangerous to invest money in Georgia. He not only used his entire machinery of lies in Georgia, in order to make the people feel despondent, but he was trying to convince foreigners as well not to invest in Georgia,” Saakashvili said. “The purpose is clear – if there are investments in Georgia, this money will be distributed among all Georgians, and if no money is invested, this ‘subject’ with a very doubtful reputation, a very doubtful past and very doubtful goals and intentions will be able to buy Georgia at a very low price.”
He said that Georgia’s “standing has suffered certain damage” but only in the short term, as a result of recent developments.
“But I want to tell you that we have passed such an important test that after January 5 [when early presidential elections are expected to be held] we will be able to regain lost ground with ten times more investment coming into Georgia; we will have ten times more success.”
President Saakashvili pledged that Georgia would remain a liberal democracy.
“Our major goal and strength is that Georgia is and will always be a liberal democracy,” he said. “The interests of everyone, even those of the smallest groups, will be reflected in the Georgian political arena.”
“Nobody will remain unsatisfied, of course, except for obviously criminal elements,” he added.
Saakashvili also mentioned his recent proposal to lower the electoral threshold from 7% to 5%.