President Saakashvili’s remarks involving word “negro” had no racial context as some media sources tried to portray it, the Georgian President’s administration said on July 28.
When meeting with the Finance Ministry top officials on July 27, President Saakashvili rebuked customs officers for searching a group of Spanish tourists at a border crossing point between Turkey and Georgia. Then he asked one Finance Ministry official and PM Nika Gilauri present at the meeting whether they had ever been searched while entering into any EU state and after receiving answers from them that they had never been searched Saakashvili told them: “Then are we Negroes or what? Explain to me why are we acting like savages?” Although being in general regarded as derogatory, the expression “am I negro?” can still be met in casual use in Georgia when one wants to express dissatisfaction for being excluded from something or being treated differently from others.
“Words said by the President of Georgia have nothing to do with any race and they were not used in the context of racial discrimination,” the Georgian President’s press office said in a statement.
“The Georgian President’s press office regrets, that a Georgian expression used by Mikheil Saakashvili, which as usually is not used and was not used in this case either in racial context, was deliberately misinterpreted by some media sources by giving it a racial connotation,” it said.