President Saakashvili said on April 9 that there were three types of opposition forces in Georgia: one “hoping” for the Russian army to invade Georgia; another making “hysterical” statements on not having a democracy; and a third engaging in constructive debate with the government.
“We have several types of politicians in Georgia. There are in [Tbilisi] center in large numbers ‘Sergo Orjonikidzes’ – some in trousers and some in skirts,” Saakashvili said. Sergo Orjonikidze was a Georgian who led the Bolshevik Red Army’s invasion of Georgia in 1921.
Saakashvili said that, without popular support, these politicians were now only counting on Russia’s support and waiting for Russian troops to take over Tbilisi.
Another part of the opposition, he said, claims that there is no democracy, explaining a lack of popular support for their respective parties as a result of having no access to broadcast media. “But they are telling these stories hysterically from TV every day,” Saakashvili said.
He said that those parties failed to see the real reason for their unpopularity.
“When a person says that the regions should not have their representatives in the Parliament…of course a voter in the region may no longer want to cast their vote for [such a party],” Saakashvili said.
Remarks on this part of the opposition were a reference to the ongoing dispute between the ruling party and a group of eight opposition parties on the electoral system. The opposition has demanded changes to the current rules for electing majoritarian MPs – changes strongly opposed by the ruling party. In the most recent proposal, the opposition agreed to maintain the current majoritarian system, but on the condition of introducing a principle of non-awarding of overhang seats in party-list contest so that to secure proportionality between votes received by each party and distribution of seats in the Parliament.
He said that the third group of opponents was “the most dangerous” for the governing party, but good for the country.
“There are some other politicians who are speaking on all those issues which are in the interest of the people and they are often harshly criticizing the government as well. For any governing party, this third group of politicians is the most dangerous in terms of maintaining power, but best for the country,” Saakashvili said.
“I am proud that this type of political class is gradually emerging in Georgia both inside and outside the government,” Saakashvili said.
He made the remarks while speaking at a meeting with a group of students in his residence in Tbilisi. His speech was dedicated to the 22nd anniversary of the April 9 tragedy when Soviet troops attacked peaceful protesters in Tbilisi, killing twenty people. April 9 also marks the 20th anniversary of Georgia’s declaration of restoring its independence.
“In the last twenty years we have made all the possible mistakes; we hit all the mines and went into all the traps. But during these twenty years we have also managed to correct all the mistakes…We have actually made a miracle because we chose the right path by starting to overcome the Soviet legacy,” Saakashvili said.
“The struggle for independence continues and in this struggle we are far ahead of any other former Soviet nation. We have overcome unimaginable obstacles; we have managed to fundamentally change our mentality; it is about a struggle of ideas, because the strength of a state in modern world is not measured by number of tanks; it is measured by…the level of liberty,” he said.