President Saakashvili said on May 22 that legal proceedings against former PM Vano Merabishvili and ex-healthcare minister and governor of Kakheti region Zurab Tchiaberashvili, amounted to “putting Georgia’s recent history on trial” and creating a perception that peaceful power transfer might turn “very dangerous” as it might lead to “revenge” against the previous authorities.
President Saakashvili made the televised remarks from the presidential palace in Tbilisi on Wednesday evening when hearing into prosecution’s motion for pretrial detention of Tchiaberashvili and Merabishvili was still ongoing in the Kutaisi City Court.
He said that charges against Merabishvili and Tchiaberashvili and its related court hearings were not about specific alleged criminal offenses, but “it’s in fact putting Georgia’s recent history on trial.”
“We are putting on trial our successful attempt that we have been undertaking since the Rose Revolution to create the modern state in Georgia, in the Caucasus,” Saakashvili said, adding that both Merabishvili and Tchiaberashvili were among the architects of “successful implementation of this statehood idea.”
“We are also putting on trial the democratic system, because last year we have created a precedent of peaceful power transfer… and now we are creating a precedent that such a power transfer is turning out to be very dangerous for those who have transferred power, because such transfer of power was followed by spite, envy and revenge,” Saakashvili said.
“Instead of capitalizing on this precedent of [peaceful power transfer] for the benefit of further strengthening of the Georgian statehood and democracy… we have received a precedent which in the future will make everyone think twice before making further step towards democracy and of course that’s very bad,” he said.
“We are putting on trial our Western orientation,” Saakashvili continued and added that what is now happening in Georgia, including the May 17 homophobic violence, “is a direct path towards Georgia’s weakening and isolation.”
He called on PM Ivanishvili to replace “negative focus on the past with positive vision of the future.”
“I want to call on them [referring to the Georgian Dream coalition] that we should move forward not with violence, revenge and rivalry, including through tradition of allying with external enemy… but we should instead all be proud of those achievements which were made in recent years, including by Merabishvili, Tchiaberashvili and by people like them. We should together address those shortcomings, which existed and of course such shortcomings did exist,” Saakashvili said.
He said that legal proceedings and pretrial court hearing into Merabishvili and Tchiaberashvili cases was “a very important moment of truth and a crossroad, which will show in which direction Georgia will move.”