Below is an extract from President Saakashvili’s April 10 live televised remarks in which he speaks about the April 9 rally and calls the opposition for a dialogue. It was his first remarks after the first day of the protest rally:
I want to say a few words about the yesterday’s [protest rally]. I think that yesterday was very important for our democracy. I think yesterday was a very important for our democracy; one part of our society has expressed its will as it should correspond to a country with high-level culture and a country, which is in the process of becoming European democracy.
I am glad that yesterday the state and our citizens, a great majority of political spectrum demonstrated political maturity and handled this issue with responsibility.
We should have handled this issue with responsibility because we should understand that any political instability contains risks of the economy.
For example, I want to say that in recent days demand for U.S. dollar has sharply increased on the currency exchange market, because there was an inflated expectation in respect of April 9.
Today the currency exchange has become completely stable as it was during previous months. The society and business sector have seen that Georgia is a stable, firm, rapidly developing democracy and this is very important.
Although several foreign business groups have postponed their visits [to Georgia] just because of this April 9 – it means that problems have been created to potential investment of millions and billions in Georgia, hence problem has been created to creating new jobs. But yesterday our friends were here, they specially arrived on this day to demonstrate that they believe in Georgia’s future, you have seen that we have signed the contract with Egyptians and all others have already confirmed that they will resume full contacts and full investments in Georgia’s economy, that means creation of new jobs.
We should understand that all these investments mean giving a new chance, new opportunity to Georgian families, to each representative of Georgia’s multi-ethnic population.
I want to say to the people, who gathered there yesterday and those people, who expressed their will through a democratic process. The opinion of each citizen, who expresses protest, is very important for me, the position of each citizen expressed yesterday is very important for me.
I take to heart the hardship of each of them, the problem of each of them, the expectation of each of them, the hopes of each of them, because I know well that there is a great hardship and poverty in our country, which has been aggravated by the war and [the global economic] crisis.
I know that plenty of our citizens can hardly cope with everyday hardship. They have no means to feed their families. Many people have no hope for future, about their employment, the future of their families and the protection of their families.
Today our citizens are angry about this hardship and the problems, which they come across, about this sense of pessimism.
I want to say that I am also very angry about this poverty and problems, about this economic hardship and those security problems, which our country faces.
But it is not so easy to overcome this and it requires hard work and right decisions.
Most of all, it requires the unity of our citizens, the unity of political forces around major issues; it requires dialogue and sharing of responsibility about the future of the country, as well as joining hands, standing together while making decisions on all the major issues.
It requires dialogue and we were always ready and especially within last months we expressed our readiness for a dialogue.
We have solved many issues through this dialogue including the issues related to implementing reforms, freedom of speech, and improvement of democratic system.
And the most important issue, which we should discuss now, is how to respond to the problems which are most important for our people.
These questions are: how to overcome the world economic crisis; how to create and save jobs and right now we are answering to this question; how to ensure security in the country and how to provide the withdrawal of foreign troops from Georgia, how to de-occupy Georgia; how to reform the political system towards more openness, stability, democratic dialogue and how to improve the judiciary to ensure that Georgia is a more fair country, wherein there is more sense of fairness.
My dear friends, it is very easy to trigger splitting and confrontation. It is very easy to speak with ultimatums and take the position as if you are not interested in the opinions of others. To be categorical and reject a dialogue is very easy and does not require much work.
But it is difficult to work together, to cooperate, to forget about insults, to share opinions at least partially, to share other’s positions, to accept these positions and to change your position at least partially.
Today, when the country is suffering, today, when our citizens are suffering and many families are fighting for their survival and for their future, we simply do not have other alternative than a dialogue and sharing of responsibility.
Now it is time to stand together and listen to each other; to share responsibility in order to defend our country, to secure better future and help our people.
I reaffirm once again the readiness of the Georgian government to hold a dialogue with all political forces, the readiness of the government, which is very consolidated, which has demonstrated that it is consolidated, effective and has a correct program, the government with the key goal to serve its people, the government which has only one leader and only one instructor and this is Georgian people, Georgian society with all its strata.
Although there are political forces, which are radical, less radical, with sharper rhetoric or conciliatory position – we are interested in everybody’s opinions, we are always ready to talk about those issues, which are of special interest among the Georgian people and the Georgian society.