President Saakashvili addresses congress of his party, United National Movement, in Tbilisi on December 23. President’s administration photo
President Saakashvili said that although Georgian Dream won “quantitative majority”, the United National Movement (UNM) was still maintaining “majority of truth and moral” and it would definitely win in “final round.”
Saakashvili was speaking at a congress of UNM party, which he chairs; the congress, held in Tbilisi on December 23, gathered UNM leadership, lawmakers, activists and members from local councils (Sakrebulos) across the country.
“We will definitely rise to our feet,” Saakashvili told his party’s indoor gathering. “I am not going to hang up my boxing gloves after the expiration of my presidential term.”
Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion and the leader of opposition UDAR party Vitaly Klitschko was present as a guest at the UNM congress. UNM secretary general Vano Merabishvili and Klitschko signed a cooperation agreement between the two parties on the sideline of the congress.
“The fight is definitely not over,” Saakashvili said. “Of course knockdown is not pleasant, but it is not final round; the final round will be in our and in the Georgian people’s favor and we will definitely win.”
In his speech President Saakashvili lashed out at PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s new government and said that Georgian Dream coalition’s and its government’s “inappropriate concepts” contained “a huge threat to the future” of Georgia.
“They [the Georgian Dream] gained quantitative majority, but… although unimaginably huge amount of money might be on the side of the parliamentary majority, as well as more votes at certain point of time, and consequently more seats in the Parliament, I think that they are not the majority, because they are not the major majority; we are the major majority – the majority of truth and moral, and we should remain such,” Saakashvili said.
“We’ve been outstripped by the force, which does not accept any rules of democratic game and we are under permanent attack,” he said.
He said that while preparing for this UNM congress, some of the party leaders were asking whether it was the right time “for speaking the truth.”
“I want to say that there is no better time than this to speak the truth,” he said. “We know that the society dislikes more and more this government and it is inevitable process.”
He also said that UNM would not be happy with a failure of the new government.
“If they fail with the pace they do it now, our country will be in a very grave situation,” he said.
Saakashvili said that the UNM was “the only political force” capable of consistently security Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
“We are the most patriotic party in Georgia,” he said.
“We reject strongly everything that hinders our path towards NATO and the European Union. This [new government] says that they too want NATO and the EU, but only making declarations about it is not enough. If you want NATO than Russian spies should be in jail and you should not be releasing them as political prisoners,” Saakashvili said, referring to Parliament’s December 5 resolution, which recognized 190 inmates as political prisoners, including some of those persons who have been convicted for espionage in favor or Russia.
“When we speak about NATO, one should not be re-erecting statue of Stalin in Alvani [village in eastern Georgian region of Kakheti]. I know that it’s not popular to say it because some voters still think that Stalin was a good man,” he said, adding that statue of Stalin in Alvani was removed last year upon his personal instructions.
He also said that attempts by those “who try to destroy” UNM would fail because the party was strong and united.
“We have been, we are and we should definitely remain united,” Saakashvili said. Recently there have been speculation in the Georgian press about possible split within the UNM.
In his speech Saakashvili also said that drug-related crimes were on rise after the new government took office.
“Those people came [into law enforcement agencies following the change of government] who previously were drug dealers. I was told that a huge quantities of drug with the name ‘Krokodil’ came into [Georgia] from Russia; when you inject or drink or whatever you do with this drug you think that you are going forward, but in fact you are walking backwards,” said Saakashvili, causing applause and laughter in the hall. Saakashvili then added: “One of the serious parts of the Georgian political class is obviously under the influence of this drug brought from Russia.”
“I am not here to hysterically attack the current government,” he said. “This government has made more mistakes in month and a half than we have made in last eight years.”
Addressing the congress, UNM secretary general and former PM Vano Merabishvili said that UNM should respond number of questions, including on how it was possible to loss the elections for the party which “defeated corruption, increased pensions ten-fold and built the statehood”.
“The future of our party and our country will depend on right answers on these questions,” Merabishvili said. “We should build a new party based on answers on these questions. We should launch a dialogue, we should engage in debates and, most importantly, we should start these debates within our party. I promise that we will build the party in which each member and supporter will be actively engaged… in decision-making process.”