President Saakashvili has set 2015 as a new target date for accomplishment of various tasks, which he laid out in his annual state of the nation address in the Parliament on February 11.
Among the targets listed by Saakashvili in his speech, which, he said, should be achieved by 2015 were: doubling agriculture production; doubling export; doubling state budget; halving current level of unemployment; 50% increase of average salaries; population growth to 5 million; increase of annual number of foreign visitors to 5 million; building of 17 new hydro power plants.
“You have probably noticed that while speaking about various issues I have numerously mentioned the year 2015,” said Saakashvili, who previously was often mentioning 2013 as a target date for accomplishment of his major tasks.
Saakashvili, whose second and final presidential term expires in 2013, said that 2015 was defined based on “long-term plan of Georgia’s development” and it had nothing to do “either with the election dates or political careers of separate individuals or the term in office of the sitting Parliament”, which expires in 2012.
“Instead it [the target date - 2015] matches with what is important for the country. People should know where we are going; our course will definitely continue,” Saakashvili said. He said for number of times in the past that he wanted “a team of reformers” to stay in power after his presidential term expires.
“Everything what we are talking about will be started in 2012-2013... Everything will be accomplished in 2015.”
“Therefore, 2015 will be the year of summarizing the first results of this plan. Our plan is based on the capabilities of Georgia, as well as on the existing dynamics of the course of reforms, real human and material resources and ongoing projects. The plan of Georgia’s development covers all the major sectors of economy and all major spheres of state activities,” Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili described his 70-minute long address as “a report about modernization.”
“Modernization will be one of the major results and tasks of the government’s and personally of my entire career,” Saakashvili said.
“For some people modernization may be a mere word, but for us it means transforming Georgia from a post-Soviet country into European democratic state, which will be the fastest growing country in Europe.”
“Modernization means to ensure that our citizen is more educated, more competitive, has modern knowledge and feels himself as a Georgian patriot, but simultaneously as a citizen of the world, a free person, for whom all opportunities are open, who do not suffer from an inferiority complex; low self-esteem and inferiority – these are what enabled the empire to try to subdue Georgia. As soon as we finally get rid of this inferiority complex, nobody will ever be able to enslave us again. And this is very important.”
“Modernization means reforms which have been implemented and will be implemented by the state and which will lead us to more civilized and democratic state. It means changes and innovations, which will pave the way towards more open and modern society – the society, which will not retire into its own shell, which does not have any phobias, which is multi-ethnic and multi-confessional, wherein each community is an integral part of the Georgian nation; the society, which aspires to the future instead of weeping for the past, which consists of free people with free thinking and free rule of life.”
Modernization means Georgia of such mentality, where politicians and society will be united like a fist to defend the interests of the country even if there are great ideological and political differences among them. Georgia, where criminal mentality will never return, where ethnic and regional divisions will never return, where corruption will never gain its foothold means Georgia, where the liberty of an individual is the cornerstone of the country and which will gain a worthy place in the international system as a sovereign, united and very successful state and not a single empire will ever be able to question its existence.”
“We will spare no efforts in the struggle for Georgia’s modernization… We will overcome all the obstacles and all the difficulties because we will be moving only forward, we will bring our struggle to the end and we will definitely win,” Saakashvili said.
On foreign policy issues Saakashvili said that Georgia achieved “significant diplomatic success last year”, because the term “occupation” in reference of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was establishing on the international arena.
“Today there is no longer a question mark about on whose side the international community is,” he said. “The entire world sees who is aggressor and who is in favor of the peace.”
On Russia he said that Georgia “wants a dialogue” with Moscow, “but we will never tolerate disintegration and occupation of Georgia.”
“The Russian leadership’s course has no future,” he said. “The idea of empire is still alive, but it has no future.”
He also said that “imperialistic thinking is waning” and added: “We are nearing the period when the imperialistic thinking will be faded away.”
“But I want to say, that we should be careful, so that to escape being a victim of the empire’s agony,” Saakashvili said.
He also said that Georgia’s course towards EU and NATO integration remained “unwavering” and attempts by Russia to isolate Georgia had “failed”. “We will never give up the choice of the Georgian people in favor of the Euro-Atlantic integration,” Saakashvili said.
For some other key points from Saakashvili's address see:
- GEL 150 mln Extra Funding Planned for Agriculture
- Gov’t Plans 'GEL 30 Food Coupons'
- Saakashvili Aims Free Trade Treaty with EU by 2015
After the address Saakashvili listened to rebuttal speeches by parliamentary minority lawmakers and remarks by the ruling party MPs. Before start of his address, Saakashvili asked the foreign diplomats accredited in Tbilisi, and present in the Parliament chamber, to stay and attend the debates as well.
After the debates, which lasted for about four hours, Saakashvili thanked diplomats, remaining in the chamber for “patience” saying that the debates “demonstrated how far the Georgian democracy has gone”.
MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of parliamentary minority group, said in his rebuttal speech told the President to foster improvement of the electoral environment otherwise warned that Saakashvili would face, as he put it, “Mubarakization”. MP Targamadze was referring to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, who resigned on February 11 after 18 days of mass protest.
MP Targamadze slammed the President for creating “genetically modified media” and “semi-manufactured judiciary”. He also said that President was at top of “corruption pyramid” and added that removing a section of presidential orders from his official website was part of the authorities’ attempts to hide information about where public money was spent.
For couple of times President Saakashvili intervened in opposition lawmakers’ speeches; in one such case he interrupted MP Levan Vepkhvadze of the Christian-Democratic Movement when the latter was criticizing the government for entering in “unprofitable” five-year gas deal with Azerbaijan in 2008, claiming that Georgia had a chance to buy gas for a better price from Azerbaijan under the Shah-Deniz gas pipeline deal. When saying this, Saakashvili pressed MP Vepkhvadze to name any European country which was buying gas for lower price than Georgia. When the MP responded that European countries were receiving expensive gas because they were buying it from Russia, Saakashvili smiled sarcastically.
A lawmaker from the ruling party, Giorgi Gabashvili, said in his remarks that there were two types of opposition in Georgia – “insane and incompetent.” “You are among incompetents,” MP Gabashvili told lawmakers from the Christian-Democratic Movement.
When MP Guram Chakhvadze of National-Democratic Party, part of the parliamentary minority group, criticized the government for “elite corruption”, Saakashvili asked him that “the political elite is now here… name who is corrupt”. PM Nika Gilauri and several ministers were also present in the chamber apart of lawmakers. MP Chakhvadze responded that he did not mean the President or ministers when speaking about elite corruption. He said that the Freedom House was also using this term – elite corruption in reference to Georgia and added that he was meaning those mid-level officials who had been arrested on corruption charges in Georgia.
“Someone, somewhere is bullshitting – it does not matter; we live in this country and everyone knows everything about everyone… The Georgian political elite is very clean… This is the major achievement of our state,” Saakashvili said.
MP Chakhvadze then backed off and said: “Let’s put it this way – a mid-level elite corruption.”
According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2009 human rights report, although levels of petty corruption fell in Georgia, concerns remained about high-level and "elite corruption."