Shortly after the parliamentary vote in which constitutional amendments were confirmed unanimously by the Parliament, President Saakashvili made a televised address welcoming the way how the vote was held and said it showed his UNM party was strong, united and “very combat capable”.
UNM lawmakers voted for constitutional amendment, stripping the President to sack the government and appoint new one without legislative body’s approval, only after the Georgian Dream coalition agreed to at first hold a test vote; UNM said it wanted it in order to show to GD and the society that without its support the proposal was failing to garnering two-third majority required for any constitutional amendment to be adopted. Some of the senior UNM and GD lawmakers welcomed the outcome, saying that it was creating a possibility for more constructive cooperation on other issues.
President Saakashvili spent much of his 11-minute televised address in slamming PM Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition and stressing that Thursday’s vote and demonstration of UNM’s unity despite of “pressure and blackmail” should be a signal for the Prime Minister that methods in style of “Russian gangsters of 1990s” did not work in Georgia. He also said that it would be impossible to sideline him from the political process and he would remain “one of the fighters in the struggle that is about final establishment and continuation of democracy and development in Georgia.”
“I think that it was an important day for Georgian democracy, for Georgian politics, for the establishment of democratic reality of new Georgia,” Saakashvili said. “Today we proved that we will never yield to blackmail and pressure. We also proved that we will always be ready for agreement for the benefit of our people, our nation and European future.”
“The governing force, through its prosecutors, its new heads of [provincial districts], its new formations including street hooligans and other forces, was trying to blackmail our lawmakers during months and weeks and was using the most disgraceful methods of pressure in order to receive the constitutional majority,” he said.
“Today the [United] National Movement proved that these methods do not work. Today PM Ivanishvili saw for the first time with his own eyes that his false imagination that everything can be bought for money or if not possible to buy for money, it can be done through methods in style of Russian gangsters of 1990s, does not work in Georgia after the Rose Revolution – it does not work in the healthiest democratic part of the society, which is in absolute majority,” Saakashvili said.
“I think that this should be a sign for the Georgian society and for the Georgian Prime Minister as well. Georgia is not Russia and other methods are needed in Georgia; a democratic dialogue is needed here,” he said.
Saakashvili then thanked UNM lawmakers and activists for showing firmness and demonstrating to the Georgian Dream coalition that they would fail to achieve goals through “brutal methods”. He said he was “proud” of being part of UNM.
“Their [UNM MPs] resistance was very important and I want to note how necessary and valuable it is for survival of our democracy and independence,” he said.
He also said that the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority “was ready to sacrifice everything, including our democracy and European future” for endorsement of these constitutional changes. He also said that the parliamentary vote also showed that UNM had “a sense of responsibility and obligation towards cohabitation, cooperation and peace.”
“I want to call on the majority and the Prime Minister – now it is time to show that stability, our institutions and European future are important for you. Stop this madness. Attacks on major European political parties and influential politicians is not the path, which will lead us to the European family of democratic countries,” Saakashvili said, referring to a recent exchange of open letters and statements between PM Ivanishvili and the European People’s Party in which UNM is an observer member.
“We have showed that we are ready to struggle for our principles. Now it is time to open a new space in our relations. We will never agree on a number of fundamental issues but we all should agree that we should respect the law, rights, and institutions,” Saakashvili said.
He said that GD’s main goal in this entire process related to constitutional amendment was not its substance; he said that this entire process was contemplated in a manner which aimed at “destroying of the opposition force in Georgia.”
“Today the new National Movement was born which struggled to the end and proved to everyone that it is more alive now than ever before. All healthy political systems need strong government and strong opposition,” Saakashvili said.
He also said that Thursday’s parliamentary debate saw “poor and cheap attempts of sowing discord between me and some members of the National Movement.”
Many of the GD lawmakers, who spoke during the parliamentary debates on March 21, argued that calls for test vote was President Saakashvili’s “whim”; some of GD MPs were calling on UNM lawmakers “to set yourselves free” from Saakashvili’s “influence” and others were telling them that Saakashvili became “a heavy burden” for UNM itself.
“It was proved again that the United National Movement is united and I am one of them,” Saakashvili said. “Any attempts to split us have failed. Moreover, any attempt to sideline me from the political struggle now or in following years will also fail, because I will be one of the fighters in the struggle that is about final establishment and continuation of democracy and development in Georgia.”
He then said that under his presidency Georgia managed to create “first modern statehood in the Caucasus that is the main source of irritation of our invader” and also source of “admiration and envy among many of our neighbors.”
Saakashvili also said that it was his government which “saved” Georgia in August, 2008 war with Russia. “I am extremely proud about it,” he said.
He said that those people, who were “building” the country throughout recent years, were now “frustrating” because many of the infrastructure projects had been “stopped” under the new government.
“But I want to tell these people – don’t be discouraged, our struggle continues and today we showed that we are very combat capable; we showed today that nobody will be able to talks with the opposition in Georgia in Russian gangster style. We will continue our struggle; I will continue this struggle together with you in the rank of the President or without it until the issue of Georgia’s survival persists,” Saakashvili said.
“We saved Georgia in 2003 when we got actually hopelessly collapsed country back on its feet. We saved Georgia in 2008 from such an attack which even Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Baltic States failed to withstand in the past; and we will save Georgia in these challenges too, which we are facing,” Saakashvili said and then added that he was “open for cooperation”.
“We will always defend our positions to the end like we did it today,” Saakashvili said.