The interview of the President of Georgia during the morning show of MSNBC - "Morning Joe"
The President of Georgia,which is currently in New York, has participated in MSNBC morning show - "Morning Joe" along with the former Columbian President - Alvaro Uribe. The conversation was mainly focused on the UN General Assembly, and the hot topics of international relations. President Saakashvili and the former President Uribe shared the political experience of Columbia and Georgia with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, Mike Murphy and Gene Robinson. The host of the show also expressed their interest in the current events of Georgia.
Mika Brzezinski: Also joining the table MSNBC chief foreign affairs correspondent - Andrea Mitchell and we still have Eugene Robinson and Mike Murphy in Washington with us.
Andrea Mitchell: You see the problem that is arising with the Palestinian demand for a Security Council statehood vote and the US position increasingly isolated that this is not the way to any kind of negotiated solution.
Mikheil Saakashvili: Well, obviously we do believe that primarily Israel has a right to security and secure existence. Also Palestine has the right to statehood. Nobody puts it in doubt. And certainly, we have lots of sympathy for the plight of Palestinian people. On the other hand we believe in negotiations and our position is very clear. This kind of things can only be settled when it takes two to do things. And we certainly need to...I hope there will be more and more incentives. Also because what's happening at the UN. To get to some negotiated solution. Because the things should change for the people in reality not just on the papers. But I think overall, this is a very important moment at the UN at this moment and it shows lots of things.
Joe Scarborough: From Middle East to Georgia. What's your goal this week for your nation?
Mikheil Saakashvili: Well, there are several issues. I am speaking at the UN and I think the main thing is that it's 20 years after the demise of the Soviet Union which Zbigniew Brzezinsky had lots of things to do with. He predicted it when nobody ever believed it. He didn't predict the exact date but he predicted it correctly. And then it's of course the anniversary of 9/11 and every time pundits were wrong. Both times they said history is finished, that it's all over. You know, history is certainly not finished and things can get very tragic. And certainly we will consider these things. On one hand there is this thing that anniversaries. I mean things have gone reverse after that. You know Russia has become more revisionists you know. Trying to restore some sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. Terrorists have gone on the attack. But on the other hand the good news is that there is Arab spring there is a wave of democratization but it can go both ways among what was the former Soviet Empire. So we will be talking about all of those issues.
Mike Murphy: President Saakashvili, I've been to Georgia. I am a fan of your country. I am wondering where your relations with the Russian stand? Has there been any thought since all the tensions you've had? Because I haven't followed it in the last six months or so...
Mikheil Saakashvili: Well, you know we are in this precarious situation. Russia occupies 20% of my country's national territory. We have half a million people who cannot return to their homes and basically 80% of the population of those areas. So we had we had the situation of mass deportation of people, mass expulsions, very much the Russian Soviet style. And I am here basically on the other hand to discuss these things at the conference. How you tackle the most violent situations. And of course this is a great example for all of us over Uribe, but of course what we did in Georgia, despite the fact that we are building this democracy at gunpoint I mean at the very precarious circumstances. I mean they don't recognize our border, they don't recognize our government, they want us officially out. They don't even recognize the seize fire agreement that President Sarkozy brokered with them and they say it's not relevant anymore. Despite the thing we have after war 6 to 7 percent growth rate. We are the world's number 1 fighter with corruption in the world according to international watchdog, Transparency International. In terms of security situation, I've been admiring what you achieved, but we are the one of the safest countries in Europe, actually second after Iceland which is an island actually. We have the safest capital, safer than Reykjavik, - Tbilisi. And we are the easiest place to do business in Eastern and Central Europe and no other country's progressed as we did. We were 147th and we are 11th now in the world. So what it surely shows, if you really work on your democracy, open up your political system, reform your society, are not scared of this kind of pressure and don't cry all the time "we are under attack" all the time, as we are. And let's just you know, everybody shut up, it's not time to argue, it's not time to work on other things. Let's just concentrate on the threat. No we never chose this way. The other way around is to concentrate on positive things and to go in that direction. And I think when you do those things the most violent, the most corrupt, the most criminalized societies can turn around.
Andrea Mitchell: What do you think the future of Vladimir Putin is? Where is Russia going?
Mikheil Saakashvili: As far as I know he plans to come back and the point here is wider than that. I think the wrong conclusion they drew from the demise of the Soviet Union at its 20th anniversary.. they said: Okay, Soviet Union was in trouble but Gorbachev was too soft, he was a softie, he basically put himself under the west, he listened too much to Americans and the others and he killed the Soviet Union. So what we now have to do instead of reforming, we have to refuse any reforms, we have to keep it as it is in trenches, we have to be more repressive, more brutal and we will not make the same mistakes as Gorbachev. Actually this is the shortest way to a painful collapse and demise. I think this will not be good for anybody, obviously it's a great nation. For last six years, Georgia has positive migration balance, more people are coming back than leaving. More people are coming back and especially the young ones. I just saw yesterday in the "Economist" of London that 24 percent of Russians, the most educated the most skillful ones want to leave that country. They have all this income but it does not help. I mean, we saw in the Middle East, you might have money, you might seem powerful but people no longer feel respected, they have no say in politics. And if they don't have sense of future it's a big thing. Vladimir Putin may have a sense of his future but when his people no longer have the sense of future that's pretty scary. By the way we are not rejoicing it, because as I said we are next to Russia, they occupy a part of our territory, they did all these nasty things to us and despite this fact you know, look at it. We are receiving hundreds of thousands of Russian visitors every year, - tourists, businessmen. You should see, they are admiring Georgia so much. Recently, one Russian professor told me: "Exactly the way in Soviet Union we admired Western Germany and America we start to admire Georgia" They should be in trouble because they admired big America and Germany and now they admire small Georgia. You know criteria for admiration but you know I like it.