I would like to greet you all!
I'm just coming back from the Opera House.
I saw "Don Quixot", Nino Ananiashvili playing the main part.
This is the same ballet troupe, which held their shows with absolute triumph in famous Metropolitan Theatre, the audience was applauding for 45 minutes after the show was over.
Press highlighted this fact with great fascination and it never happened before in practice.
The most important part of it was that press wrote not about a Russian ballerina but about the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet troupe and its Georgian choreographer Nino Ananiashvili.
Nino Ananiashvili arrived in Tbilisi very soon after Rose Revolution.
First she was given absolutely destroyed group, from which she created the world class collective.
We are the country of great ballet meisters and choreographers like Vakhtang Chabukiani, and finally Balanchini.
I want to remind you about the period when Nino was just starting her job in Tbilisi.
So much criticism we heard on TV, some said that Nino was trying to take Youth Palace away from children and so on...
This happened because Nino is an exceptionally talented and true patriot.
In spite of her worldwide chances and more attractive proposals, she still returned in her country.
She went through so much obstacles and finally created ballet troupe.
These types of patriots build new Georgia today.
We are planning to renovate our Opera House next year and we will have one of the best Opera in the world.
The reconstruction of the philharmonic will be finished this year and we will have a high class world standard Concert Hall there as well.
We are renovating theatres in the regions as well.
I was not planning to discuss these issues today but I could not hide my impressions.
Now I want to speak about my visit in Germany and on our main issues.
In spite of dirty and very dangerous provocations, which were planned for us long ago, which was executed in March, in April, in May and is still in execution phase, we were able to focus an attention of Europe and the whole diplomatic world on Georgia in order to defend our territorial integrity.
I had a very good meeting in Germany with the Chancellor, much better than I expected.
I was deeply impressed about how thoroughly she knows our problems and how deeply she is involved in these processes.
Germany is a leading European state today," he continued. "You know that we had disagreement with Germany over NATO aspiration, but as far as the major issue is concerned - Georgia's territorial integrity - Germany has an extremely firm position and expresses full support to us.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will pay a visit to Georgia in several days over this issue.
Shortly - we went completed this stage successfully.
In spite of so many provocations we were able to keep balance and this way we are achieving success.
We have to do everything to melt ice between relationships with Russia.
A tone that is source of optimism is observed in my contacts with Russia's new President Dimitry Medvedev; we, however, expect change of situation in connection with conflicts and respect of our territorial integrity.
Finally our diplomatic success is of great importance, but it does not mean that we will solve our problems only by the help of Germany or US.
I want everyone to understand that no one will bring our territories on tray.
The rest of the world will not do what we have to do, this is something that multiethnic Georgian nation has to do.
I want everyone to understand what does Abkhazia mean for Georgia.
Abkhazia is large part of our tourism potential; large part of our electricity; Abkhazia is two-third of our sea coast; in Georgia the largest oil deposits are in Abkhazia; there are two ports in Abkhazia - Ochamchire and Sokhumi.
The resolution of Abkhazian conflict in peaceful way, envisaging everyone's interests Abkhazia would amount to three-fold increase of Georgia's economy.
Abkhazia is not an abstract name - Georgia will never be a complete state without Abkhazia.
80 percent of our people were expelled from Abkhazian territory.
Some of the members of our government say that we have 240-280 thousand refugees from Abkhazia, but they only count those people who had indicated Georgian ethnicity in their passports.
This is so much foolishness.
I saw tens of thousands people in Israel, tens of thousand in Greece, I saw Estonians, Ukrainians who are the owners of this land and they should get their land back.
Those people, who were left in Abkhazia must understand and we will reach them as well. They are looking with fear at the leaders of small groups, their life will become so much better in Georgian multiethnic state.
Georgia is not the privacy of ethnic Georgians - Georgia is the privacy of Azerbaijani, Armenians, Ossetians, Abkhazs, Jews and others who live in Georgia.
This small group will lead Abkhaz nation to rapid and total assimilation in frames of Russian federation.
This is a huge, tragic, historical failure, and we all should fight together and we must spend all our forces to avoid this failure.
We all have to work together to peacefully resolve this conflict.
We proposed them to create free economic zones, also we proposed them the constitutional post of the Vice President, besides this we propose them the participation of all European organizations in this process, to make sure that all European standards are envisaged and they will receive those warranties that non of the Georgian government would ever become able to change them. Ethnic Abkazs will be the full right owners of multiethnic country, owners of the future federal state Georgia and absolutely safe part of country.
This was all about Germany.
"Rustavi 2", Natia Gogsadze
Mr President, you spoke about Abkhazia and problems concerning Abkhazia. Soon you are planning to meet the President of Russia, and the main topic for discussion will be this issue. What will be your comment about that fact, that the President of Russia received Bagapsh and this was a secret meeting?
Russia's former President had met with separatist leaders previously. If President Medvedev discussed at the meeting the issue of peaceful resolution of the problem through taking into account everyone's interests, then we welcome it. But if someone hopes that by this meeting legitimization of annexation of this territory will be carried out - I want to tell them: we will not let it happen unless we are alive.
We will resolve this issue together with the Commonwealth of Nations by all means.
We do not need problems. Today Georgia is united like never before.
We have two main components - international support and the unity of Georgian society.
Today's Georgia is undefeated in every diplomatic initiation.
Last year in November we were attacked by some dark forces, our international image was under serious uncertainty - these dark forces created illusion of splitting Georgian society in two parts.
In the results of two elections, Georgia and Georgian society returned a full support, obtained full admiration and eliminated illusion about splitting the Georgian nation into two parts in the main issues (of course we can argue about regular issues as much as we want).
We have to speak about many issues - Russia and Georgia has got many common interests.
Russia is strong when Georgia is on their side, but Georgia will be besides those, who will stand beside us.
We have joint projects.
We support Sochi Olympics, but this issue must be resolved.
Those type of hooligans actions that Russian government officials performed in March, April and May must be left in past.
No body will ever become able to talk to Georgia and Georgian government by the methods of hooligans not in or out Georgia.
Now Russia has got a President that has very civilized style, manner and I am sure that his mindset is the same as well. I think that everything will be turned towards respect of Georgian territorial integrity.
When Georgia is respected, Georgia and Georgians will respond by three times more friendship and respect.
Like Russia is proud of the fact that it is not the same Russia of 90-ies, the same way Georgia is not same - absolutely paralyzed, separated country - the government of which was not able to control anything but the center of Tbilisi. It was definitely not able to control Samegrelo, I am not saying anything about Ajara or Javakheti; Georgian government was not even able to control itself and their own representatives.
Now we are in the best shape and we can choose a way of negotiations regarding many issues.
Our fortune is decided not in Brussels, Washington DC or Moscow, but here in Tbilisi. Tbilisi will make a decision according to Georgian multiethnic interests.
"Ajara" - Nodar Chachua
Mr President, you just got back from Europe where you held meeting with US Secretary of State and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. What is the aim of Georgia's international activeness, and regarding which issue have we got the more international support? And the most important question - are we close enough and how close we are to the NATO membership?
We needed to apply to two main criteria for approaching the NATO: holding elections in good way and issue regarding conflicts. Everyone has recognized, except of some Russian political figures, that Georgia has in overall held election well.
The second issue is about conflict. No one is telling us: resolve those conflicts on your own and then come to us; everyone is engaged in this issue. All the leading European states have understood that it is also their problem.
When everyone is involved in process - everyone should get results as well.
You represent Ajara TV and I want to tell you that we are trying to do everything for the popularization of this region. For example GUAM Summit this year will be taking place in Batumi, we invited many foreign guests there. We all are proud of what is happening in Ajara region today. Everyone must see the contrast - what kind of changes took place in Ajara, compare to Abkhazia.
We have to show everyone, that Georgia is not only Tbilisi. This makes a great sense.
"Caucasia" - George Koberidze
Mr President, what will be your evaluation regarding the fact that opposition refused entering the Parliament, how independent is Georgian media today, specially TV stations? You are well informed about problems that took place on TV channels, including November events. Depending on reliable sources businessmen are called by the police and are asked to take their commercials away from "Caucasia". In case of refusing this proposal they are warned to be punished. This businessmen refuse to announce their identity, but we know that there exists a five page list of those businessmen. Some names are underlined in list.
In November there was a state of emergency and all the television stations in Georgia have been closed down for several days; but after that Kavkasia TV started to further develop.
Now about the list, I do not know who is underlined in that list, but I consider this issue to be discussed in future. But one thing is absolutely clear, all the illusions about restriction of freedom of expression or as if there was some tabooed issues, have disappeared... We have no experience of democracy culture and we should work much over it. But I can agree with you - we have to do much more still.
All kind of thoughts were discussed during this elections. This is number one.
Second - they say that elections were not held in a fair manner. This is not true. They say in general - that elections were falsified, but no one is able to say something specific. We hear the phrases: there was such climate, somebody was called for; somebody was told something...
I myself travel a lot in Georgia and no one has a problem to tell me directly what they think about me.
If people tell me their problems, I do not think they would hesitate to address any minister with their problems.
Nobody is able to say that the votes were not counted properly. All parties received exactly those results that were published. It is very easy to blame somebody else in your own failures.
I welcome steps taken by the two-third of opposition - they enter the parliament. I would like to express my sorrow that some opposition leaders, which are well known for our society and have their support, refused to become parliamentarians.
One of the radical part of this group stated that they now will be waiting for failures from the President and the government and after they will continue strikes. I do not think this is the right position, especially when Georgia needs consolidation, development, dialogue and everyone's involvement in the ongoing processes. If you are waiting for the mistakes of your government, you should be aware that your country could get in problem then. It is much better if they would stand where the government operates and makes decisions, to make sure that you tell your people from there about existing problems which could lead the country to the edge.
I myself was in opposition: I was in local government opposition, I was in the parliament opposition. I was the leader of the smallest fraction - consisting of ten persons in 2003. But this fraction was doing the most important job. It is always important to stand where you are needed. It is right when you hear this voice from the parliament building, not from the streets, because issues would never be decided on the streets any more. We saw what happened in 90ies, it will never happen again.
By my initiative, opposition will have three vice-speakers in parliament, this never happened before. If we will not count first parliament elected after our independency, this is the first parliament where we have three opposition fractions. All deputy chairmen will be from the opposition. We gave opposition much more ability to control in the Chamber of Control, all kind of information will be accessible for them. If they wish to participate in the working process of the government, I once again state - I am ready to return to this subject. We are now waiting these fractions to be staffed, and we will start the procedure of approval of our government. Government must be approved, when opposition fractions are staffed. I want to hear what does the opposition think, I want them to discuss details.
At the same time I wish the opposition to be strong. The strength means more responsibility, weakness is feature of irresponsibility and this is not good for our country. Especially for country, which has existential issues to resolve.
Our mission is development of institutes. This is very important. The development of institutes is impossible without the dialogue and arguing with opposition. We have to agree on the general issues. The general issues are Georgia's territorial integrity and our country's integration into the NATO. There are many social or other problems in country, we have poverty and injustice, in spite of a lot has been done. But as always much more needs to be done.
I said once that opposition made a mistake before elections. If you observed I had not started speculations with Abkhazian issue, 95 of President would do so. I mostly concentrated on the internal issues, because jobs, overcoming poverty, 50-day employment program and now 50-months employment program are very important for people. We have to fix 50 times more roads, we have to support more schools, we have to increase salaries and pensions. Prices are going higher and income must not only become equal to these prices but needs to be even more. No matter how successful we are, opposition will always have ability to find jobs. This is why I think we need to cooperate and to discuss different issues. There is no other alternative for our country.
I also understand that part of our society believed in the propaganda of disgust. We heard this propaganda on the radio and TV all the time. I understand this also partially; I understand the frustration of this people. The economy of Georgia increased three times during last four years; the real budget of the country almost 12 times. The rest of money goes on our army, on schools, on police. This money we received from those people, which we never arrested. But there were several occasions when we arrested some corrupted people. Taxation inspectors, who had ten thousand US dollars every month was still unsatisfied with salary equal 2-3 thousand lari. This was the mentality and psychology. ne. Now everyone understands that we do not have any other choice. This society belongs to everyone. You do not have right to become angry if your child was not able to become a student in the University that is located on the street you live, but someone from Oni was able.
The future belongs to everyone. If Georgia will be successful each person will have a chance to achieve success. This is our social policy. We must not give a right to any group to become marginal, because it means that someone is not glad by the success of it's country. On the contrary, they want everyone to make a mistake. We have experienced this once in 90-ies already. Our country has the great future. I am absolutely sure.
Georgian Public Broadcasting - Ketevan Kardava
Mr President, I want to return back to Abkhazian issue. Today an article was published in newspaper "Komersant", according to which there are some talks about splitting Abkhazia in two parts, after which Georgia will get only Gali and Ochamchire. Russian side refused this fact, but it is interesting to hear your opinion...
We will not give anyone anything. No one can have this kind of illusion. We have our peacekeeping plan, according to which we proposed to create free economic zone in Gali and Ochamchire. I approve this fact. It is so. Gali and Ochamchire are regions of great economic potential and these regions are empty today. Free economic zone will serve our people, including those who live in Abkhazia. Georgia is too small and our ancestors were keeping this lend for us for centuries. We can not give it to somebody else. If some people have this type of ideas or plans, unfortunately Georgia today has not the right government and the President; due to our constitution this government and President will remain for minimum another five years.
Radio Imedi - Irma Ebralidze
During last elections your main promise was - Georgia without poverty. It is interesting if this issue still remains to be the main issue for that government which you will present to the Parliament. I ask you this question because some changes need to be made in budget. From the increased budget the most of money goes to defense. Your opponents say that your slogan will not be actual any more. One more question - when are you planning to present your new government and are some main changes planned regarding our new government, for example in the economic group?
I told you already that as soon as new fractions are formed we will present new government. I am not planning any serious changes at this stage, and I will not start speculations on this issue.
Now about the firs part of the question. You are informed that our main program today is to overcome poverty and to create more jobs, and this is our 50 months program. We need to work more in villages, we need to bring in three times more tractors and we need to develop some other methods because prices on gasoline are increasing. I have a meeting with the representatives of agriculture tomorrow.
Prices on food are increasing all around the world, in Georgia as well, but our advantage is that we not only eat these products but also produce them. We have to produce everything locally. This program envisages development of villages, including development of agriculture, ambulatories, schools, education system. We must create new jobs, we must encourage small businesses and we must reduce taxes and so on. Georgian government will present exactly this program at the parliament and serious discussions will take place with everyone, including the opposition fractions.
Now about the defense budget - I wish we lived in Monte-Carlo and no one is trying to threaten us with occupation or annexation. But we live in Georgia and I have pretension that we have created the most professional army in whole region that is transferring to NATO standards right now. All this is expensive of course. Everything we have is of best, world quality. We do not have transcontinental ballistic rockets, but have everything that small country needs in difficult geopolitical region, which has peacekeeping intents, but now we are sure that all existing forces in region might not have the same approach. I assure you that I know how important it is to spend money on schools, health, on the future infrastructure of country, on increasing pensions and on social programs.
Radio "Portuna" - Nana Mamagulishvili
I want to return back to your visit in Germany. Angela Merkel noted on the press conference that initial progress is necessary regarding conflict resolution. Are some serious changes expected till December regarding three-stage plan and which stage is this program at this moment?
If early they used to tell us that we must solve our problems by ourselves now they say that this is everybody's problem and we all must resolve it together. This is not only problem of Georgia any more. Ongoing events in Abkhazia is the problem of European security and accordingly, all major European countries are involved in this process.
"Alania" - Ekaterine Kotrikadze
Mr. President, lately facts of provocation, explosions and shootings are taking place more often in South Ossetia. Two days ago Kokoiti visited Moscow, where he criticized mediators - OSCE and other organizations and refuses their involvement in conflict resolution. What will be your opinion...Will something change in this direction in South Ossetia.
I think in that part, which is not under our control, in Tskhinvali Kokoiti does not make any decisions any more. This part is under Russian administration, and this fact is violation and ignorance of all international law. This is unprecedented fact after the World War Two and we hope that, Russian Federation will timely finish this abnormal situation up. I hope that not the Russian FSB generals will make this decision, but the Russian President will. I think that Russia will approach this issue with more responsibility. This issue will not be solved in darkness anymore. We do not need mediators - mediators are our society. The Russian Generals that are sitting in Tskhinvali and are creators of many dirty provocations must return back to their locations in Russian Federation, because they do not have anything to do in Georgia. This situation is created artificially and it won't continue for long time, our Russian colleagues know this better then us, but some have difficulties in decision making. If law level officials are not able to make this happen, I hope that the President of Russian Federation will make sufficient decision.
You cannot use and act on 19th century worst examples in 21st century. Now about provocations, if you had noticed it is true that there are some provocations, but on the territory that is under our control is order. This will remain so and no one will create any problems there. We now know and we teach them that they cannot create problems to the peaceful citizens. These people are secured by our state security. We have very experienced people in police and they are keeping order. It is very painful, that the same is not happening in Tskhinvali, Tskhinvali unfortunately is still controlled by Russian FSB officers and by the rest of separatists, because the rest of old separatist now are on our side already. I think we will be able to solve this issue earlier that you or the person you just named could imagine!
I would like to thank you all!
of the President of Georgia