President Saakashvili said on December 25 that local elections, the first polls in the country after the Russia’s invasion, would be “a huge test for Georgia” and holding of fair elections would be the country’s victory.
In a lengthy interview with Rustavi 2 TV’s weekly program, Position, Saakashvili said that in the upcoming elections “I will act like a non-party President”.
During the 2006 local elections and 2008 parliamentary elections Saakashvili, who is a chairman of the ruling National Movement Party, was actively engaged in his party’s election campaign.
He welcomed that “all the serious political force” took part in drafting amendments to the election code.
Although some parties complain about the proposed draft, he said, it was only “a posture” of these parties to oppose it.
“In fact they are accepting this system, as they take part in the elections,” he added.
Alliance for Georgia, whose leader Irakli Alasania wants to run for Tbilisi mayoral race, is against of the proposed draft, which has yet to be passed by the Parliament for the third and final reading and which envisages setting of a 30% threshold for electing the capital city’s mayor.
During the 100-minute long interview Saakashvili spoke on broad range of issues, including on the opposition’s protest rallies in spring, 2009.
He said that after a failure to achieve any tangible results from those protests, “one part of the opposition became more realistic.”
“The slogan - all or nothing – does not work in politics… Everyone has to compromise something in order for the country to progress,” Saakashvili said.
He said that the authorities decided not “to intervene” in those rallies, but also warned that it did not mean that the government would always stand aside in such situations.
Saakashvili alleged that those rallies and in particular so called ‘town of cells’ was “FSB scenario” – a reference to Russia’s Federal Security Service.
Nogaideli’s Russia Stance is ‘Sin’
While speaking about former PM Zurab Nogaideli, now a leader of opposition Movement for Fair Georgia, and his recent meeting with Russian PM Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Saakashvili said Georgia “always had traitors” in its history.
He, however, at the same time downplayed Nogaideli’s role by saying that it should not be a positive sign for Russia “if it has nothing left other than to use Nogaideli.”
“It’s hard to think that this man [referring to Nogaideli] could fall like this; one can’t fall below that point,” Saakashvili said.
The leader of Movement for Fair Georgia served as PM for more than two years under President Saakashvili.
“Going and meeting Georgia’s the most sworn enemy after Shah Abbas [Abbas I, the Shah of Persia notorious in Georgia for his invasion of Georgia's eastern region of Kakheti in the early 17th century] without any preconditions and without asking when he [referring to PM Putin] plans to return [Abkhazia and S.Ossetia], without asking when he plans to let our people back [to the breakaway regions], without asking when he plans to recognize Georgia as a state, amounts to a huge sin. I do not want to call it a crime,” Saakashvili said.
During the interview he showed two maps - one depicting Georgia in its internationally recognized borders and another “a Russian-made map” on which Georgia was depicted without Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
He threw away the map of Georgia without Abkhazia and South Ossetia and said, that Georgia “will throw away those politicians in history’s dustbin, like I have just thrown that map away.”
“Georgia can not be in favor of having bad relations with Russia; we are not crazy,” he said.
He said that after coming into power, he tried to be “flexible” with Russia. He also added: “I was offering Putin everything.”
Demolished WWII Memorial
Although he released a statement on the matter through his spokesperson on the same day, it was the first time on December 25 when he spoke on the issues personally.
He said that the tragic outcome of the demolition was a result of “incompetence, negligence and recklessness” of those who were in charge of the demolition. Several employees of a demolition company were arrested for violation of safety norms.
Saakashvili then also spoke about the memorial itself, which he referred to as “so called memorial.” The authorities’ plans to demolish the 46-meter memorial were in itself a controversial. The plan was criticized by many opposition parties in Georgia and the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was demonstration of “disrespect” to WWII veterans.
“The issue has been politicized, although I do not think it was a matter of politics; but Russia tries to find pretexts to argue with us,” Saakashvili said.
He said it was “scornful” on the part of Russia to tell Georgia not to remove the monument, which, as he put it, was made to honor “the glory of the Soviet army.”
“They [Russia] are successors of the Soviet Union and occupiers of our territories,” he added.
When speaking about the country’s tourism potential and infrastructure development, at one point he said that a new hotel would be open in Anaklia on the Black Sea Coast by August; when a TV anchor asked whether he meant August, 2010, Saakashvili responded: “Yes, of course 2010; I can’t be patient… I want everything [to be done] quickly.”
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