In a televised address to the nation on January 26 President Saakashvili said that the current energy crisis is a test for the country and called on Georgia’s citizens to consolidate in order to overcome the crisis.
Mikheil Saakashvili made the address shortly after he returned from Davos, Switzerland late on January 26. The current gas shortage was combined with an electricity shortage on January 26 after heavy snowstorm brought a power line in western Georgia down, leaving most of the eastern part of the country without electricity and worsening the energy crisis in Georgia. This situation prompted President Saakashvili to cut short his visit to the Davos World Economic Forum.
The address was made before an emergency session of the National Security Council.
Saakashvili said in his address that independence is built “on three major components” for Georgia: energy and economic independence; restoration of the territorial integrity and integration into NATO.
“This is the last winter, wherein it is possible to launch an energy offensive on us, because a new gas pipeline [Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum] will be launched in Autumn, because we are building our own HPPs [hydropower plants] and creating our own power [transmission] lines,” Saakashvili said.
He said that Georgia’s “enemies” have been irritated by the country’s successful development being observed in recent years and “we have been hit in a very rude way amid this success.”
“We have managed to establish order in this [energy] sector… we repaired [power] lines, put hydropower plants into operation and started thinking about alternative sources of energy supplies several months before this [crisis],” Saakashvili said.
“They could not even dare to [carry out] these explosions on our territory and blew-up [the gas pipelines] on their own territory,” he added. Referring to the two gas pipelines blown up in Russia’s North Ossetian Republic on January 22.
“We should definitely overcome this energy offensive against us if we want to really become a successful European country,” the Georgian President stated.
Saakashvili said while speaking about territorial integrity that the U.S. and EU have been engaged in the process of resolving separatist conflicts in Georgia.
“And time has come when both Tskhinvali [the capital of breakaway South Ossetia] and Sokhumi [the capital of breakaway Abkhazia] will be integral parts of Georgia. We will definitely achieve this,” he said.
Saakashvili said that active negotiations about Georgia’s membership in the NATO are currently underway.
“This in particular makes certain forces very nervous… It should be recognized once and for all that we are part of European security structures,” Saakashvili said.
“All these three goals [energy independence, territorial integrity and NATO integration] are achievable in the nearest future,” he added.
Saakashvili called on the population “to assess” the current situation and understand that the future of the country largely depends on how Georgia will be able deal with this current crisis.
“If we stand strong, if our enemies fail to see a frustrated, weak and pessimistic Georgia we will succeed… I say to each citizen of Georgia: 'let’s not make our enemies happy.' We will overcome this crisis and continue our development,” Saakashvili stated.