PM Ivanishvili released on September 2 a lengthy “open letter to the public”, laying out reasons behind his intention for a pre-term resignation, saying that it would allow him to direct all of his efforts towards civil society development in the country with strong public oversight on government.
“My next and the most important task is to develop healthy civil society sector… and formation of such a society, which will not only criticize but which will itself get involved… and contribute to eventually establish European-type, democratic, citizen-oriented state. I assure you that from the future perspective, it will be a successful step on the path of development of the Georgian society,” the letter reads.
“As far as the date of my resignation is concerned, I will let you know about it in advance after I am reassured that presidential election is held successfully. I believe that [Georgian Dream] coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili will win in the first round. I will quit, when I am reassured that no one and nothing will be able to change the course chosen by us, when all the state agencies and officials work orderly and when I am reassured that the country’s development is stable.”
“I assure you that new Prime Minister, whom I will offer to my team and the public, will be a very interesting person, who will succeed is addressing tasks facing [Prime Minister],” Ivanishvili says.
In the same letter, Ivanishvili also says that although he thinks it won’t become necessary, “but if needed, I will return back to the active politics.”
In the eight-page open letter, Ivanishvili stresses that his decision to quit is in line with what he was saying when going into politics almost two years ago. The letter starts by quoting a portion from his October 7, 2011 statement in which he was saying that it would require for him to accomplish some of the major tasks in politics in two-three years.
Below is an unofficial translation of Ivanishvili’s September 2 open letter:
“My decision to quit the politics caused so much confusion and misinterpretation that I deem it necessary to make some explanations. In order to justify consistency of my decisions, I offer you a portion from my first statement made while entering the politics:
‘President Saakashvili’s total monopoly on power and constitutional amendments, which clearly reveal Saakashvili’s intention to maintain power and stay in leadership beyond any constitutional term, prompted my decision to establish a political party and to run in the 2012 parliamentary elections... I have ascertained, that without personal involvement it would have been very difficult to achieve needed result; for that reason I have decided to personally coordinate following political processes for some time – for about two-three years:
• To win absolute majority in the 2012 parliamentary elections through unification of my political party and healthy political forces;
• To define and elaborate together with the people the optimal model of governance; to carry out such constitutional amendments that will not only eradicate possibility but also willingness to personally tailor constitution in the future;
• To participate in formation of the new government in a capacity of either Prime Minister or Parliamentary Chairman and to assume responsibility for its normal functioning in order to completely eradicate elite corruption in which Saakashvili’s current government is engulfed;
• To launch creating independent judicial system and to make it an irreversible process;
• To create perspective for restoration of Georgian state’s jurisdiction over Abkhazian and South Ossetian territories;
• To create genuinely interesting investment climate and to lay foundation for prosperity of business, instead of the existing situation when the business is monopolized by a single group;
• To accomplish agriculture project [involving investing USD 1 billion in this sector] and to make the second project involving University of Technology and creating high-tech employment opportunities real;
• To start sorting out relations with Russia;
• To deepen friendship and integration with the United States and European Union.
I think, that it will take about two or three years to resolve the above mentioned problems. After that I am going to quit politics and to actively participate in the country’s public life and its development… We, the society, should learn how to elect and what is more important, how to control the head of the state and its government… In the nearest future we have to create the critical mass of civil society (and its further development will take years and decades), whose interests will be taken into consideration by any government, which would not even be willing to do what Saakashvili’s present government now dares,’ – these were very reasons and goals for which I decided to go into politics.
‘After long deliberations and analysis I came to a conclusion, that I had no choice other [than going into politics],’ – this is yet another extract from my statement made at the time [in October, 2011].
Today, almost two years after that statement, I declare with certain satisfaction that I and the society have both the right and opportunity to make the choice and I want to tell you what this choice is about.
I came into government to protect the society and we have succeeded in this as the current government is better than any of its predecessor and the society is protected like never before from the authorities’ arbitrariness. But the society should not be left relying on a good will of the authorities and it should not be waiting for the messiah. Salvation of the society is in its effectiveness, high sense of responsibility and political maturity. The society should find a mechanism through which it will provide oversight of the government and also be its partners.
With my personal example, I want to show to the society that it is required to be relevant to challenges and concrete realities. Two years ago our country was facing completely different challenge and I stood right where I could do the most. Today the country faces completely different challenge and I have to act in accordance to this challenge.
As of today my public functions can be defined as three-pronged: 1. Governmental (Prime Minister of the country); 2. Political (leader of Georgian Dream coalition); 3. Public (active citizen). I am going to say no to first and second (government and political) functions and direct all the freed resources towards third (public) function. I am going to do this because I have already accomplished my role in the first (government) and second (political) directions. There is much to do in the third direction, which is the most important one, and there are not many of those who can do the job there and personally I can do much in this direction because of certain circumstances.
So, I am not going ‘somewhere else’, I am remaining ‘here’ and I am only going to optimize my public functions and role in order to, first and foremost, fully dedicate my capabilities where it is the most needed for my country and also to distribute more responsibility and powers to my political partners and co-thinkers without which the country will remain again relied on a single man and we’ll remain in the same vicious circle.
I will try to explain in more details what my public role in all these three directions is now.
I think that cabinet ministers have been selected quite well and if we analyze the situation by taking into consideration the existing reality, government’s activities are maximally effective. I, as head of the government, took an active participation in elaborating strategic issues for each of the ministry and gave to each minister complete freedom in actions and decision-making in frames of the strategy. Today it can be said that I am mainly occupied by overseeing implementation of key parameters of the strategy and each minister performs the duties under his/her competences.
Apart of well-arranged activities of the government, we have also offered to our society a presidential candidate [Giorgi Margvelashvili], who is a bearer of European values and who is free from traditional messiah-authoritarian inclinations.
We have made relevant decisions to provide balanced constitution, real self-governance, independent judiciary and free media.
2. Coalition and Political Leadership of Party
Today no one doubts any more that by building the Georgian Dream coalition I pursued not the goal of creating yet another super-party merged with the state, but establishing a multi-party system. Consequently, the Georgian Dream coalition is not ‘my party’; it represents a coalition of member parties. In such circumstances, both the political power and responsibility belongs not to the coalition leader, but to coalition member parties and leaders of these parties. So quitting by the leader of current ruling coalition should not be compared to quitting of previous ruling parties. We have created the Georgian Dream coalition for at least till next parliamentary elections [in 2016] and it will continue to exist no less than for that term. I realize very well my personal role in creating and success of the coalition, but I also know very well criteria based on which I chose my co-fighters, who they are and how responsibly they handle the job. There are many experienced politicians in the coalition member parties and it won’t be difficult to select a new chairman of the coalition’s political council [a governing body of GD coalition], who will be the first among equals and who will secure functioning of the coalition in line with its declared goals.
At the same time, we should not also rule out that someone may decide before the next parliamentary elections to continue political activities outside the coalition. I think it will be a political mistake of that particular person or a group, which will harm only them. The coalition is not insured from such developments even under my leadership and it won’t be insured from that in absence of my leadership either.
It will take much more of my efforts to accomplish [from politics] organizational and structural building of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party [which Ivanishvili launched after going into politics] before my departure, but I will definitely manage to do that. Even though I have never been a managing chairman of this party, I naturally feel a huge responsibility before those compatriots, who have embraced my initiative and joined the party. Quite interesting and strong team is united in this party, which will have to succeed in next elections in fair competition with other [parties] – of course by taking into consideration my one vote.
3. Active Citizen
When I speak about active citizen, I do not mean only an emotionally patriot person, who is always ready to sacrifice life for the homeland; I mean a patriot with mind, who is always ready to think, debate and work on pressing issues for the country and compatriots. It depends on number of patriot with mind citizens whether we will have a mass of the people, which will be easily manipulated by the government, or the civil society, which will keep the government in the its service.
There should be no one-man show either in government or outside the government and that will be a guarantee for the government to remain effective, European, non-corrupt and for the country to develop in the right direction.
Only the efficient, responsible and the European-type of society can serve as a guarantor for that. I believe this is exactly the most important, and I would say, epochal challenge for us – to build together this kind of society.
Therefore, vector of my interest is directed towards the society and I see my function to establish such a society, which, on the one hand, makes choices with responsibility and in elections voices its position about what kind of country it wants and on the other hand after the elections permanently keeps efficiency of the elected government under the watchful eye.
In the condition when the society is dominated by emotional patriotism, citizens: a) during the elections voice their emotional position about what kind of country they no longer want to live in after the elections and b) after the elections they either plunge into swamp of nihilism or/and try to immediately remove the government – both of the scenarios contribute to authoritarianism and disarray.
All the previous cases of electing and then replacing governments, including the one of October 1, 2012 elections, show that emotional patriotism reigns in Georgia. Let’s face the truth and let’s acknowledge that you voted for us [the Georgian Dream coalition] upon dictate from your heart and emotions not because of our election platform. You rejected the previous government’s tongs, arbitrariness, violence, poverty and supported those whom you through were capable to defeat them [the previous government]. As far as the future is concerned, everyone was expecting for our individual dream to come true and cared less about what and how the new government was going to do. ‘Not Misha, but Bidzina is cool!’ – that's what determined parliamentary election results. This kind of slogans during the previous cases of change of government in Georgia was followed by civil confrontation, bloodshed and revolution.
To illustrate who we ‘manage’ to control the government it is even enough to analyze actions of Saakashvili’s government: overcrowded prisons; 300,000 [people] on probation; impoverished and devastated village; business and media under complete control; human rights on zero level…
Meanwhile, these people [referring to the previous government] were able to portray our country before Europeans and Americans as a beacon of democracy in the region. Don’t make a mistake and don’t shift the blame on Europe and America for our own mistakes. On the contrary, with our incapability and wrong actions we allowed our government, elected by us, to sell abroad unmatched violence and trampling the laws in the country as a democracy with the help of lobbyists, hired with money stolen from us.
We should stop going round this vicious circle. We should never again elect like this. For that to happen we should immediately start building the civil society with fast pace and putting the authorities under permanent oversight of the society. Through this we will contribute not only to effectiveness of the current government, but we will also secure qualitatively higher level of future governments.
I have no spite against personally Saakashvili or any other politician. My mission is to put an end to missions of messiah in Georgia. Defeating an existing messiah is not enough for that – it should be secured not to turn into messiah myself. For that reason I should quit now. Many of those in the society, who are concerned about my decision to quit, do not want to assume responsibility for the common process – these kind of people prefer to remain passive so that to keep others responsible for everything.
That’s the reason why it would be harmful, and in no way helpful, for the future if I remain head of the government (it can be said that I enjoy excessive trust of the public), because it would slow down the drive for the need that has been realized by the society over the past 22 years through going round the vicious circle – that is the need to establish the civil society sector full of responsibility.
Origins of the civil society have been existed in Georgia for a long time, but it was not possible to bring it quantitatively and qualitatively to the European level. Educational and cultural function of aristocratic elite in Europe was assumed by ‘democratic elite’ (civil society), which unlike its predecessor no longer had governing powers and on the other hand was no longer just for narrow social or other interest groups. The Soviet rule interrupted this process in Georgia for seventy years, which made us to lose our own traditions and cut us off from the European intellectual and value-based source. For example, compare society of Georgia of 1913 under [the Russian Empire’s] colonial [rule] with the society of free Georgia of 2013 – European-style value-based standards were created better within non-governmental and expert community (to put it in modern terms) one century ago than today. Those who ran the Georgian media at the time would have hired only handful of modern-time Georgian journalists for their professionalism and for not lying. Word had more value at the time than it has now; at the time it would have been much difficult to convince a Georgian man that it’s possible to involve half of the population in rigging elections than in possibility of a man to fly to the moon.
Today lots of citizens are part of non-governmental organizations, expert community and media, who are seriously influencing on public opinion and formation of the opinion through their publications and speeches. But often lack of qualification or/and conscience if often felt, which causes inconsistency and superficiality on fundamental issues, mixing up private with public. As a result it becomes impossible to maintain right orientations and standards.
And now we have a situation wherein the civil society assumes the right to criticize (and that’s important), but refuses to assume responsibility to itself engage and build. Therefore, in order for the Georgian society to be the rational society, capable of well-thought debate, instead of just criticizing each other emotionally, everyone should assume its share of responsibility. We should all move out of waiting mode and actively engage in the process of the state building.
In my opinion, today, when the state is already stable, when it is on the right path and has all the chances to tackle successfully all the tasks, my next, the most important task is to develop the healthy civil society, which has its own function, which is full of responsibility, and to form such a society, which will not only criticize, but will also get involved in the process of bring up [the state] and contribute to eventually establish European-type, democratic, citizen-oriented state. We should achieve such a society on which Ilia [Chavchavadze] was dreaming about: ‘Everyone, together and separately, should know that we are inseparable parts of the nation and for that reason we should be seeking for own wellbeing in the wellbeing of the entire nation, not separately.’
The goal of my departure [from politics] into the civil society is speed up as much as possible:
• Professional growth of civil society actors – the opinion leaders;
• Attracting human resources and new faces into the civil society and creating motivation for them; accumulating innovative ideas and their implementation;
• Elaborating effective mechanism for government oversight, involving not only voicing criticism, but also offering [the government] healthy ideas for the development of the country or any branch of the government.
With it we are creating the most effective way of overseeing the government and are giving a lever into the society’s hands to assume responsibility on the developments in the country.
At the same time, I am going to work a lot with the youth in order to foster their active involvement, consequently responsibility as well, in the processes. Promoting of new actors will increase competitiveness, paving the way for new faces and no one will have a guaranteed place for ever. In the condition of permanent lack of [qualified] human resources, it will also represent a basis for human resources for both the private and public sectors.
Ultimately, I hope, that we will speed up increase of society’s political culture, which will in itself strengthen guarantees for country’s stabile development and get us closer to the European standards.
Now I want to address those for whom my explanations are not enough:
When we trusted each other and stood by each other, we were able to do impossible – we changed the government peacefully and constitutionally for the first time in Georgia’s modern history and also led the country towards the progress since the parliamentary elections without much turbulences and mistakes; it was not an easy task. Our victory is based only on one thing – our mutual trust. And I ask you again to trust in my decision and to stand by my side. I assure you that from the future perspective, it will be a successful step on the path of development of the Georgian society.
Based on what we have already accomplished, I think there is a reason to trust my decision. I know exactly what I want to do and what it will bring to the society. I would say it without any humble that I did everything almost without any mistakes – even forecasts, from the very first day of entering the politics.
Firstly, let’s be honest: did many of you believe that we would have made Saakashvili to give up the power through elections without bloodshed?! We all remember Saakashvili’s predecessor governments which had much weaker state apparatus and then there was Saakashvili with his authoritarian style of governance, who rigged elections for multiple times, there was November 7 , raid on Imedi TV and May 26 .
So if we recall how the society managed to replace the first two governments [since independence the one of President Gamsakhurdia and then of President Shevardnadze] actually there was no chance to peacefully send Saakashvili out of power. We actually accomplished what seemed impossible. It is strange, but no one asked a question how we did that. No one has analyzed those factors through which independent Georgia managed for the first time in its history to bring into power new government through elections. How? I will definitely answer this question sometime later. One thing is clear – we prevailed over fear, huge state machinery based on terror, the entire electoral apparatus designed for rigging the vote results. I want the authorities to learn to be honest before the law, people and partners. We managed to do that in the most difficult moment – during the cohabitation; we maintained the public support and in parallel deepened relationship with American and European partners. Believe me, it was not easy. Circumstances required from us to make incompatible issues compatible with each other: on the one hand, there was an unconditional and completely fair demand from our society – to hold the previous authorities accountable for unheard-of crimes committed against own people over the past nine years; on the other hand, there was a watchful eye from our western partners and multiples calls to avoid mass prosecution of previous government representatives and not to turn away from requirements of the law, i.e. not to go down the same path pursued by Saakashvili when he came into power, when [United] National [Movement] was completely ignoring requirements of the law during arrests. Then the entire society turned into a victim of illegality. I think we found the golden mean and managed to achieve unprecedented thing for the Georgian political and legal culture – we will enforce justice in observance of requirements of law. And I assure you that the society will benefit from it for a long time.
Secondly, I have served my homeland honestly for the entire my life. By going into politics in October, 2011 I have literary sacrificed myself and my family. Is it still possible for someone to think that I will turn back to my homeland and will not do utmost for my country – in this interesting moment when the process of building is starting?
And finally I want to address the biggest skeptics:
Although I am sure that there will not be a need for that, if anyway there is such need, I will return back into the active politics.
After this letter, I think no question marks should remain about reasons and goals of my departure from politics.
As far as the date of my resignation is concerned, I will let you know about it in advance after I am reassured that presidential election is held successfully. I believe that [Georgian Dream] coalition candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili will win in the first round. I will quit, when I am reassured that no one and nothing will be able to change the course chosen by us, when all the state agencies and officials work orderly and when I am reassured that the country’s development is stable.”