My sisters and brothers, my mothers and fathers! I, as a President and as a person, have no value or goal more important, than my country, my people, each of you. I am ready to sacrifice myself for each of you in order to make Georgia and its citizens happy. As the President of this country and as one of the ordinary Georgians, who was born, grown up and will die in this country, in our country, Georgia, I am extremely concerned over the recent development in the center of Tbilisi.
Demonstrations were underway for several days. Georgia is a democratic country. So, in Georgia everyone has the right to hold demonstrations and express their opinions in frames of law. It is natural that even in the most rapidly developing countries each person has a concern; each person has a sense of protest in various periods of their life. All of them want to share their concerns with the authorities, to express them publicly. And I, as a leader of young democracy, always protected and will always protect the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as well as the right to make a democratic choice, to express own opinions in all those aspects, which can exist in a democratic country.
First days of demonstrations were as peaceful and calm, as it could be in any democratic country. This happened thanks to those thousands of people who are periodically expressing their opinions.
In a democratic country, freedom of speech, as well as expression of freedom in frames of law, is a driving force for all of us, because we [the government] came [into power] through democratic processes, we, ourselves came to power through democratic elections. Until Georgia exists, we should do our best to ensure that it is a democratic, developed, European-style, open society and open country.
Today morning, when Rustaveli Avenue was blocked by several dozen of people, the Tbilisi municipality and the police decided to clean the Avenue and restore traffic on it. The authorities, I mean police and municipality - made a strict warning that those people, who wanted to rally outside the Parliament under conditions of restored traffic, they should not hamper others - for example, schoolchildren to go to school and others to do their usual work - in other cases, everybody had the right to gather outside the Parliament and express their opinions and there was a strict instruction not to intervene in the rally so that these people could continue expressing their opinions. We have experience it for years and we were ready to continue a democratic process, as usually. However, later the road was again blocked, the clash occurred with police and all these overgrew into a scuffle between the protesters - who were called by the opposition leaders to act so - and the law enforcement officers, who were strictly instructed to provide public order through peaceful, civilized methods, to provide normal functioning of Tbilisi and its center, to provide free movement of citizens, to provide not only the rights of protesters - that is natural, as they are our citizens – but also the rights of other persons in our society.
We all remember the year of 1991. We all remember this year, starting from tents, various incidents, counter meetings, turmoil, and then all these overgrowing into the coup, bloodshed and lost of the territories. Our wish is that such things never happen in Georgia again. We are not a damned nation; we are very talented nation; we have proved to the world that we can settle our processes and our issues in a civilized manner. Therefore, our call was that nobody will be able to repeat the similar turmoil as it was during the civil war in Georgia, despite various calls for it - although many people, who participated in this mess today, are coming from that period and were actively participating in the developments of that period.
Therefore, our goal was to solve all this peacefully in frames of law, to observe the law as much as possible. Georgian riot police – I want to stress it – used all the means that are used by police force in England, France, Finland, Switzerland and Estonia – in all those democratic countries, where, on the one hand, it is up to police to cause less harm even to the most aggressive and radical protesters, and on the other – to avoid mass disorders and mass clashes between various groups. We have used all those means and behaved exactly the way, the police would act in all civilized democratic state, any democratic state, including in the United States and European countries.
Therefore, there is nothing unusual, although there is also nothing pleasant in it. It is a source of great concern for me to see even one person, who was hit by a policeman’s baton, to see people running away from policemen. I want to say that such developments will bring no favor to our country, because it is reported throughout the world.
Of course, our ill-wishers now feel very happy, because everything, what is broadcasted by foreign televisions now plays in their favor. This is what they used to say for years that Georgia, regardless of its successes, regardless of its peaceful development, regardless of its strengthening is a very weak country, as they think, where incidents will happen.
But I also want to say that under conditions when each of you is very important for me, under conditions when this [presidential] office or any privileges mean nothing, we should all assume huge responsibility before that mission, which you gave to me.
And I want to talk about those concrete facts, which preceded all this, what is happening in Georgia and in Tbilisi now.
We have been hearing for recent months that turmoil was expected in Georgia by autumn. We have been receiving this information from our intelligence, as well as from several foreign capitals, where we also have friends, who submit information.
We received information that alternative government had already been set up in Moscow, that Saakashvili and his government would be overthrown by the end of this year – I have been hearing this for 6 or 7 months and I had no right not to take this issue seriously. But I was calm because I was sure that they would not be able to create any major problems.
Unfortunately, it seems that I was partially wrong. You saw the video materials aired by the Georgian televisions. Russian intelligence intensified their activities recently. Our special services have been carrying out detailed monitoring of their activities for past months and years. Russian intelligence has been trying to gain a foothold among some of the radical opposition parities; money was coming, special means were coming, instructions were coming and probably we do not know everything, what they were doing. However, our special services are familiar with the great part of these activities.
I want to say that besides those video materials, which were broadcasted today, I instructed the special services to broadcast other existing materials as well. We will show to the entire world that Georgia is a young democratic state, which aspires to peacefully reintegrate its country, which aspires to develop its economy and we already have a 14% economic growth. Georgia is receiving billions of investments. We will spare no efforts to further continue Georgia’s development, Georgia’s success and further growth, but these forces aimed to deter all these.
Last night the Russian Foreign Minister expressed solidarity to the potential participants of turmoil in Tbilisi and pledged to support them. He referred to the entire people, but he was certainly speaking about concrete persons. Moreover, Chairman of the Russian Council of Federation, Mironov publicly announced that in the nearest days mass turmoil would be launched in the Georgian capital and various cities of Georgia. This is not the information submitted by the intelligence services, this information was disseminated by various foreign televisions.
So, Georgia is under huge pressure, numerous provocations were staged against Georgia, only this year it was bombed several times in Upper Abkhazia; on those territories of Georgia, which are not controlled by us, the so called Russian peacekeepers are staging mass provocations and we witnessed one of them several days ago.
Today, Georgia faces a threat of a very serious turmoil. We have already disseminated the relevant documentary materials. The representatives of Russian foreign intelligence, top officials from the Russian security ministry are actively involved in it. We know their names, we have their photos, a part of them is now in Georgia, the other part guides these processes from Moscow and we disseminated the evidence through Georgian televisions.
Moreover, one of the Russian oligarchs has openly called on the Georgian society for overthrowing the government; he directly called for mass anti-constitutional actions, that is not admissible in any democratic country, this is absolutely unclear and unacceptable phenomenon by any democratic authorities.
In the light of the recent developments, when there were clashes between the police and protesters – several tens of policemen were beaten up, police cars were damaged and destroyed, during the clashes innocent people were injured. There is a real threat of provocations and even armed provocations.
Under such conditions I want to say that the Georgian government and I, as the President, the Georgian law enforcement agencies will take all the measures to restore democratic order in the streets of Tbilisi and to return everything back to the constitutional frames.
We have strong institutions, we have a strong parliament and the position of the Parliamentary Chairperson was absolutely decisive. She has numerously called today, yesterday, the day before yesterday for calmness. Very interesting debates were held in the Parliament yesterday and the parliamentarians called on everybody for a dialogue and consolidation. We have a well-functioning judiciary, which can cope with any problem.
I fully join the calls of Georgian Patriarch Ilia II for a dialogue, calmness, as well as his calls not to enable foreign forces to use everything what is currently happening in Georgia in their favor.
But, my friends, a great machinery of lies is put into operation; all the resources of provocations have been put into operation, a machinery of very rich states with great experience in staging turmoil in neighbor countries and then using this turmoil for their own purposes, has been put into operation. Of course, we should be very careful and very watchful. We have a great deal of social problems, we have many unhappy people and I understand these people very well. But if we let these forces to stage destabilization, not a single person, not a single elderly person, not a single young person will have any chance, our future will have no chance, we will finally lose a chance of restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity, because, today, we will face a very difficult geopolitical dilemma, when the issue of Kosovo is on the agenda, when there are open threats about annexation and recognition of Abkhazia, when annexation of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali has practically been carried out by several generals, who arrived there from Russia.
Under such conditions, mass disorders, mass clashes and violence mean that our country will face the threat of extinction. We all face a serious challenge to our existence. Therefore, I want everybody to think about it. Today, I called on those people, who gathered in the streets, including many supporters of the authorities, to disperse. The Parliamentary Chairperson did the same. There is no time for protest rallies. Our country has already passed through it. There is no time for manifestations and counter manifestations. There is no time for divided avenues, as it was attempted today. We will not allow any dividing lines, any turmoil. We will not allow any clashes between various political groups, because the facts of violence have taken place. We will not allow the activities of foreign countries, particularly the activities of special services of one foreign country; we will not allow it and will prevent it.
Several employees of the Russian embassy, who are engaged subversive and espionage activities against Georgia, have been announced as undesirable persons and they should soon leave Georgia.
We have recalled our ambassador from Russia for consultations. And I repeat again, we have evidences which are published now and will be published again tomorrow, that these people played a huge role, as it happened in Estonia recently, when there were attempts to overthrow the Estonian government. Everything was masterminded there, all this was realized with the help of oligarchs and if we do not take serious measures, this may become even more dangerous.
Our country, our Georgia is for all Georgians, it is for each of you and we cannot turn it into a hostage of someone’s dirty and dishonest interests. We cannot turn our country into a hostage of geopolitical games. Our democracy needs to be protected through democratic methods. Our democracy needs the actions taken by democratic, but strong authorities to ensure that Georgia is never returned to darkness and civil wars, which we had 10-15 years ago. We will act as the democratic authorities do and I need your support in this.
I believe in your calmness, your rationality, your wisdom and your love towards your country, because we, the representatives of multi-ethnic Georgia, the representatives of all nationalities love our country. We, the representatives of various regions, including Abkhazia, Samegrelo, Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Imereti, Adjara, Guria, Kakheti, Kartli, Samtskhe-Javakheti love our Georgia, our unity. Regardless of our ethnic or political background, we call on everybody for dialogue.
We have never suspended dialogue. I want everybody to know that nobody will ever be able to change the Georgian authorities through turmoil. The Georgian authorities are responsible to protect constitutional processes, to ensure that democratic processes develop transparently and are not derailed.
Therefore, we call on everybody for dialogue. We call on that part of opposition and this is the absolute majority – except for several persons, who were shown in the footages, how they were receiving instructions from the unfriendly representatives of other countries. But I have no doubts in patriotism of major [of opposition parties]. I do not doubt that we will find a common language for the well-being of Georgia. But I want to appeal not only to the political parties, but to the Georgian society as well: do not let radical political figures to lead Georgia towards irreversible processes.
I want to ask you to be consolidated and calm. I guarantee that we will manage to maintain order. I want to tell you: we should believe that Georgia will be united. We should believe that Georgia will be stronger. We should believe that the eleventh [Soviet] army [which annexed Georgia in 1921] will never defeat us. We should believe that we, all, have a very clear future. This faith will help us gain a victory. God bless our country, Georgia.