I want to address you in connection with the attempts to stage disorders in the Mukhrovani unit.
As you know, NATO exercises are planned in Georgia. The EU summit is planned in Prague on May 7-8 on the sideline of which Georgia will sign Eastern Partnership Agreement with the European Union. The first event is an important, symbolic event because for the first time after Russia’s aggression NATO is taking this step on the territory of Georgia. The second event has very important political and I would say historic importance, because for the first time, Georgia is establishing an institutional relation with the European Union – with our natural partner, with the area of our political, social and economic future.
In this situation, as you have probably been watching through mass media, numerous rhetoric threats and concrete provocations were carried out against our country.
You know that within recent weeks Russia has increased its presence on the occupied territories of Georgia three fold. It stationed practically the entire Black Sea fleet in the territorial waters of Georgia. It certainly was an extremely provocative and dangerous step. They were counting on a possibility of mass unrests in the center of Georgian capital or some type of violence and then [actions] could would been carried out against Georgia’s sovereignty, our freedom and independence and naturally against Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic and European integration.
You have seen, my dear compatriots, the Georgian government demonstrated maximum restraint [during the protests rallies] in order not to give any pretext to Georgia’s enemy. We acted in a way like most of the countries would not act and would not tolerate it. We think that a dialogue is the way out of any situation and we did not allow any provocations in Tbilisi and other places of Georgia. I want to thank responsible political forces for it and reiterate our readiness for cooperation.
On the other hand, you have already seen those hysteric threats, which were heard from the politicians from Russia, an occupant force of our territory, as well as from their militaries and leadership. They were saying that they would not allow NATO exercises in Georgia, that they had enough levers for it; they increased their military presence within last days. They deployed the so called border guards on the Georgian territory through rough violation of all international norms. They did their utmost to fuel tensions.
Under such conditions one group of former military officials, whose links with the agents of one particular country, is well-known for us, tried and is trying to organize unrests in the Mukhrovani military unit. Unrest in a military unit is not an ordinary thing. We should understand that any unrests in the places, where there are armed people, is equal to raising a hand against Georgia’s democratic system, against safety of each of our citizen, against the constitution of Georgia because in accordance with the Georgian constitution, all military units are subordinated to the legally elected authorities. Organizing even the smallest unrests and smallest incidents are a very sharp challenge to Georgia’s constitutional order, to Georgia’s stability and threatens the future of our citizens.
Therefore, we certainly consider it as a serious act; we consider it as a serious threat; we consider it as a serious challenge. At the same time, I want to tell you that this is an isolated incident and no other military units are involved. Presently other military units are on high alert and the situation is under control. Generally there is order and calmness in the country and nothing threatens to it.
But we should understand one thing – this inspiration of unrests is in no way connected to social conditions [of soldiers]. You know very well that our army has the highest salaries in our country. You know very well that our officers are specially honored in the Georgian society. It is no more Shevardnadze-area bare-feet, hungry, undisciplined army. As the army is not the same, similarly nobody will manage to return the country to unrests and chaos of the nineties. We have already seen what paramilitary groups and bandits mean, who were moving in Tbilisi and other cities, violating the rights of citizens, robbing and destroying the property of our country. It took Georgia many years and just the Rose Revolution put an end to their raids.
Those people, who are now trying to organize unrests, are those people, who were dismissed from the army after the Rose Revolution, who now want to turn everything back to the past. They want to return to the nineties and are acting in coordination with a foreign force.
I also want to categorically address and warn the Russian Federation – any attempts of escalating the situation inside Georgia, triggering more tensions in the occupied territories – and we have information that there are [Russia’s] additional military units there, we have information that the Black Sea Fleet has started new movements – all these [actions] are very provocative – I insistently demand from our northern neighbor to refrain from this type of provocative maneuvers, to refrain from any types of provocations because such provocations will not work in Georgia. Georgian people will not yield to such provocations. It should be very simple for them to understand.
I have instructed police and armed forces to act appropriately. Police units are fully mobilized. Organizers of mutiny and unrests have been isolated. From the morning we had been negotiating with them – there was the commander of land forces Shmagi Telia; there was deputy defense minister [Bacho] Akhalaia; presently Interior Minister Merabishvili is there.
I personally spoke with one of the organizers of these unrests and I told him that we were giving them an opportunity to surrender to the law enforcement agencies, to lay down arms and it will be taken into consideration as a mitigating circumstance. But nobody should have any illusion. When the enemy is staying inside Georgia, 40 kilometers away from the Georgian capital, when a huge quantity of artillery weapons are aimed at us, when the Black Sea Fleet is near our coasts and when we hear threats and provocative statements everyday, we cannot allow any long-term unrests in Georgia, because it will be a sword stabbed into the heart of democracy, it will be a very dangerous act directed against Georgian statehood.
Therefore, we consider this challenge very seriously. Under my instruction, they [mutineers] were given deadline to surrender to the law enforcement agencies and I repeat that it will be considered as a mitigating circumstance. I know that very many, who are there, participate in it against their personal will and we know it very well, but it does not justify their presence there. In order to protect Georgian democracy, freedom and unity, Georgian state and all respective bodies are ready to take the most decisive measures to prevent any small or large attempts of undermining our constitutional order, our democracy, our freedom.
Georgia no more stays in the situation, which was five years ago. We are the state; we plan to act as the state and I ask our citizens to be calm, I ask them to accept with understanding all those actions, which were carried out by the Georgian state in this situation and which would have been carried out by all responsible Georgian rulers in our history.
Our history is full of examples of treason, unrests, rebellions, attempts of working with external forces and breaking the fortress from inside. This time nobody will manage to break the fortress from inside. We and personally me, as the President and the commander-in-chief will act with full responsibility before the history of the country, safety of each our citizen, freedom and our democratic system.