Tbilisi, May 11, 2009
I want to express my satisfaction that these meetings were held today [one with organizers of the ongoing protest rallies and another one with the parliamentary minority group].
No matter of contents of these meetings I believe that today is anyway the day of victory of Georgian democracy.
I want to welcome the fact that after so much radicalization, so many harsh statements, so many insulting actions, we managed to take a step towards more constructive and civilized relations in politics.
During this entire period, including during speeches made by radical opposition during the rallies in Tbilisi, my message to the opposition has always bee and will be call for dialogue, active calls for mutually agreed activities and call for open civilized discussion.
The recent history of our country, the nineties, have showed us very well what the radicalization brigs to the country, what irreconcilability brings to the country, what this position – either you or me; all or nothing; today or never – brings. In last decades it brought us to bloodshed, civil war and the enemy used this situation very well.
A democratic dialogue between the political forces means sitting of people with very different opinions together, agreeing on some issues, making compromises and reaching better results for Georgia through compromises.
Compromise is not easy; it is not easy to step over yourself, especially when you have already once said that you would never agree on it whatever happens.
But dialogue and the country always need such actions by all political forces.
Unfortunately, we are moving in an opposite direction with some radical forces for such a long time that it is impossible to turn it back in one day.
But we have agreed that there are some issues on which we will continue talking, that the meeting was held and it is good and we agree that a dialogue should continue and of course, it is a step forward.
Therefore, I once again welcome the today’s meeting.
During the today’s conversation my position was based on four, most important principles:
• Supremacy of national interests of our country;
• Inviolability of Georgia’s democratization course;
• My responsibility towards our people and each citizen;
• Full respect towards that part of the society, who had to come out in the streets because of their difficult everyday lives, who had to express their protest because of hardship, hopelessness and social problems.
Whatever the motives of political leaders, who try to capitalize on all these, might be, I have a great respect and accountability and responsibility towards those people [expressing protest] – I do not talk about separate radical, criminal elements, whom we have seen in recent days.
Nobody should think that we do not realize in what a difficult situation Georgia is.
20% of the best part of our country is occupied; Georgia is in the situation, when the threats are leveled by the enemy on the daily basis; Georgia is hit by the global financial crisis and all these are certainly reflected on the well being of our citizens and on their security.
Moreover, there is one thing, which we should take into consideration – Georgia had no statehood for 500 years. Not only Georgia, but entire Caucasus and many nations and countries entering the Russian imperial space had lost this tradition of statehood.
For the first time, within past five years Georgia managed to establish a modern Georgian statehood, to create a model of modern European statehood where no one expected it to happen. So today no one is any longer surprised that we have such police, that we have such army, that we have low level corruption, as it should be in developed countries, the state is functioning, we have created energy security for Georgia, a number of reforms are underway in Georgia, including in the educational sphere and we are establishing as a full-pledged state. Of course, there are many problems, but it is already a very great achievement.
The country, which has occupied territories, which is threatened everyday, where there is a huge social hardship, there is no time for boasting. But at the same time, we should say that we have established our statehood and we will not let anybody shake it.
On the other hand, while the steps towards democracy have already been taken, we should create much developed democratic society, a real civil society, really civilized relations between the opposition and the government, real non-governmental organizations so that each person has an opportunity to express and defend their opinions and everybody has an opportunity to respect these opinions, to ensure that there is a sense about fair courts in Georgia so that nobody will be able to suppress somebody groundlessly.
Therefore, now we are moving to the second stage of our historical travel in order to jointly build a normal Georgian democracy.
All forces in Georgia have a chance today to become a part of this political process to jointly build a civilized democracy, where we will take into consideration the opinions of each others; where we will respect the opinions of each other; where we will treat each other in a civilized way and where we will work together for the future of our country; where all politicians will stand above their personal ambitious and create more civilized democratic model. This is our – and when I say our, I mean the government, all opposition forces, even the most radical groups – our chance and our responsibility.
Today I offered the opposition groups – and you know that we met with the parliamentary opposition and the non-parliamentary opposition; the radical groups and relatively moderate ones – I offered them to jointly create a constitution commission on a parity basis, which will develop a balanced constitutional model, where there will be a place both for a strong president, for strong parliament, independent judiciary and where the interests of each Georgian citizen will be protected better, which will meet all constitutional requirements of a modern European country.
I offer the opposition to agree among each other and jointly nominate a candidate for the position of chairman of this constitutional commission. You know that the previous constitution was developed by the commission chaired by then President Shevardnadze. Now, let the opposition lead this commission; let it define the procedures of this commission; let them define the agenda of this commission. We are ready to cooperate with this commission as much as possible and to participate in this process.
I also offered them to launch joint work over the election code. Whatever elections we hold today, some radical groups will only agree on the results of those elections, in which they win. For some groups the election is a chance to mess up the situation. Let us agree on such election system, where nobody will dare to protest against the results and mess up the situation under that pretext.
I also offered them to work jointly on the judicial reform.
And I also offered them to cooperate with them in various structures. I am ready to see the representatives of various opposition groups on various responsible posts.
We all should work together to ensure that the opposition is fairly represented in the public television’s board of trustees; to create such television on the basis of [the public TV’s] Channel 2, which will give a rostrum to the various political groups. But nobody should have an illusion that we will ever allow somebody to persecute journalists with sticks, batons, to beat and insult young girls and boys, to let them pass through “corridors of shame”, to spit in their faces. We will not let it happen in Georgia and I am sorry what we have already allowed to happen in recent day .
We, as the state, will defend the journalists’ rights to free expression, free thinking. Neither the government will terrorize them and nor anybody should have an illusion that we will let them terrorize any journalists. By the way, some representatives of radical opposition have agreed in principle on that during the conversation with me and I welcome it.
You know that we, together with the Georgian Patriarchate, have jointly developed a position to release these attackers on bail. It was not a usual act. It was politically risky step, but we were ready to take such a step in order to give a chance and defuse the situation in the center of Tbilisi.
Moreover, in order to defuse confrontation I have offered the radical groups a moratorium on further investigation and legal prosecution of all offences, which occurred because of excessive political emotions in the course of protest rallies. Many acts have been committed. I think we understand that it was not so pleasant; we understand that in usual situation people will be accountable for it, but as far as we do not want to corner somebody, to make somebody feel that they have no way back, we should develop these guarantees together.
At the same time, everybody should understand that Georgia has great economic challenges. We need to attract the investments to the country, and attraction of investments needs firm stability.
There is order in absolute majority of the Georgian territory, of course except for the occupied territories; taxes are collected; the state is functioning; police is functioning. But, of course as a result of these rallies a part of the population fails to take their children to schools; a part has to spend twice more time on movement. I think that we all should respect – regardless of what we want politically and it first of all regards the leaders of radical groups – the dignity of our society, the rights of our society.
Nobody has the right to oppress the rest of the society by their personal opinions, to block the streets, to hamper the movement of an ambulance to the ill people, to prevent the parents from taking their children to schools; to check documents of journalists and transport without any rights.
We will not allow new Mkhedrioni [a paramilitary group of early and mid 90s] or so called public formations here. This time is over.
But at the same time, I again welcome the today’s meeting. I am sure that the course of democratization of the country passes through institutional decisions, real reforms and our agreement should be based on the fact that there should be consensus in the country on all major issues; all the streets and all the corners of the country should return to stable and calm.
I welcome the today’s meeting. Despite different positions, we all agree on the necessity of a dialogue. Of course, I have no illusion that we will agree on all the issues.
How many times have the representatives of the society been insulted during the recent weeks, including our supporters, my supporters and personally me? – Although I personally do not pay much attention to this. On the other hand, there are many insulted people, who are doing it very frequently because they have no other way out. We should stand above this. We should help the people overcome this world economic crisis and overcome the results of Russian occupation.
Georgia does not need blood today. It will never happen that we return to the violence and bloodshed of the nineties. Georgia needs dialogue; Georgia needs unity where it is possible; Georgia needs a civilized discussion where we fail to agree and we should settle our differences through a civilized discussion.
I am sure that our dialogue will be followed by a positive result for our major target for which personally I and all responsible persons are working in our country – for the Georgian people and Georgian society.
We will definitely manage to resolve our problems, our issues in a civilized way for the well being of our people, our future.