President Saakashvili brushed off criticism about the plans to introduce, as he calls it, “military-patriotic courses” or, as the Education Ministry referred to it “civil defense courses” in the schools and said there was nothing militaristic in the idea.
“We decided to introduce military-patriotic education [in schools] – although it may be called civil defense courses. So called liberals stirred noise about it, saying: ‘what a disaster it is; it’s a bad tone’. By the way, Soviet-time military courses at schools were not really good,” he said at a live televised meeting with a group of schoolchildren and their teachers in Tbilisi on February 3.
“Our country faces real challenges,” Saakashvili said and then brought an example of Israel and added that citizens there “are prepared when there are missile attacks”.
“Unfortunately, we do not live in Switzerland and Holland and there is one unfriendly country in our neighbourhood. So, Georgia needs all these [civil defense or military-patriotic course] and there is nothing militaristic in it… Georgia needs to defend itself. We do not attack anyone. But 20% of our territory is occupied.”
“There are some people, who believe that military-patriotic education is militarism and that the civil defense course is a provocation, and generally having the army in Georgia is a provocation,” Saakashvili said.
“But I also know that we have to deal with such people, who will not at all mercy you even if you disarm yourself.”
“By the way, if the bear likes you, it will eat you better. The best way to deal with a bear is to take a stick and hit it on its head, or it is even better if you have a pistol or a large caliber gun. So, these are elementary rules for existence of the statehood,” he said.
Saakashvili said that Georgia “has the enemy, which is against our statehood.”
“Of course, Georgia should defend itself. It is our honorary duty and the only chance for us to survive.”
In his lengthy speech, Saakashvili also spoke about the need of unity within the Georgian society and the need to have a consensus within the country “on key issues.”
“Our enemy has occupied 20% of our territory, but I want to stress that these territories are not lost – it is said constantly on TV that these territories are lost; these territories will only be lost, when it becomes lost in your head and legally on the paper,” he said.
“But the invader wants to bring those people [into power] in Tbilisi, who will recognize that these territories are lost,” Saakashvili said.
Then in an apparent reference to former PM Zurab Nogaideli, the leader of Movement for Fair Georgia, Saakashvili continued: “When you say that I am going to Russia - and there is a queue already there – to carry out negotiations about… how to overthrow your own government; which monuments should be erected inside your country and how your own territory should be arranged, you admit that you are not a master of your own fate and that a non-educated employee of Cheka [Bolshevik secret police and a predecessor of the Soviet security bodies – NKVD and then KGB] should decide the fate of your country, which has history of multi-thousand years.”
“There is not more humiliation and dishonesty than that,” he added.
In his recent public speeches, Saakashvili often makes reference to ex-PM Nogaideli, who in recent months traveled for number of times to Moscow and in December met with Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin. The move was also criticized by some opposition politicians with some of them saying that the Georgian authorities were in fact benefiting from such decision of Nogaideli, redirecting political debates ahead of local elections from key internal issues.
“Of course, these people will fail to succeed in Georgia,” Saakashvili continued. “Of course their patrons know that this kind of people will never win elections in Georgia, but what they want to achieve is to demoralize us; they want to seed enmity or to create an illusion that enmity is seeded within the Georgian society and then to do the same things, what happened in 1921 [when the Bolshevik Red Army invaded Georgia].”
He said that one of the reasons why Russia failed to take over Tbilisi during the August, 2008 war was Moscow’s failure to find “puppets” within Georgia to bring them into power.
“Now they [Russia] are preparing a relevant infrastructure for that scenario,” Saakashvili said. “But this scenario will not work.”
“They [referring to Russia] know well that Georgia’s development means their irreversible failure… They know that as soon as we finalize our [development] plans regarding Batumi, Kutaisi, Mestia, Telavi and Tbilisi, regaining control over these territories [referring to Abkhazia and South Ossetia], which are temporarily occupied by Russia, will only be a matter of time and techniques,” Saakashvili said.