Outgoing President Saakashvili spoke of his achievements, regrets and mistakes in a televised address to the nation on October 28, which he said was his last one from the presidential palace.
“Personally I do not need a rest, but time has come when you have to rest from me,” he said by the end of his forty-minute video address in which he also apologized to those who, as he put it, became victims of “injustice” under his rule.
President Saakashvili, who will be stepping down after serving his second and final term in full following inauguration of new president elected in Sunday’s vote, met UNM party leadership earlier on October 28 in a capacity of chairman of UNM party which he founded over a decade ago.
Referring to the October 27 presidential election results in which UNM’s Davit Bakradze came second with 21.7%, Saakashvili said: “We were runners-up, but this second place creates a firm foundation for further struggles and victories.”
“As Giga [Bokeria, outgoing secretary of National Security Council] put it, we’ll meet in next elections,” said Saakashvili smiling; next scheduled election is municipal one in spring, 2014. “We have a chance in any following elections, because a very reliable foundation for that was laid in yesterday’s election… Period of uncertainty and difficulties lie ahead of Georgia and there will be demand for democratic, efficient opposition like never before.”
In his lengthy address to the nation, recorded in his office in the glass-domed presidential palace, built during his presidency, Saakashvili said that “regardless of mistakes and shortcomings” it was made possible during his term in office to “inspire hope, create new form of patriotism and to retrieve the national pride, which was lost long time ago.”
“I would like to respectfully request you to stand above all the social problems and above of currently existing dark political trend and to ask yourselves: are we now better off than we were ten years ago?” Saakashvili said.
‘Impatient and Excessively Strict’
Speaking about his and his administration’s “mistakes”, Saakashvili said: “We were impatient and often excessively strict.”
“I want to apologize to everyone who became victim of injustice and humiliation,” he said.
“I regret that often I was overly trusting some officials of the Interior Ministry and prosecutor’s office.”
“Probably I was too hasty and impatient and well-wishers were calling me to be composed.”
“In our drive for fast reforms we failed to reckon necessity for explaining to and agreeing our actions with those who were against of these changes.”
“For me the end result was much more important than explaining [to opponents] this result and it harmed us much.”
“Judiciary reform was too slow and reform in education sector lacked depth.”
“I assume full responsibility for that,” Saakashvili said.
“But I will never apologize for wanting to return pride and power to the people. I will not apologize for destroying organized crime, eradicated all kind of corruption and built new towns; I will not apologize for traversing the entire world in order to… protect our homeland from powerful enemies,” he said. “I will always be proud of what we have accomplished.”
He said he knows that “many of you are irritated by my accelerated pace.”
“But please understand me too,” he said and added that this fast pace was a result of an attempt to not allow “recent dark past”, which, he said, was chasing step by step, to undermine reform efforts. “I felt in the back of the head horrible smell of that past.”
He said that his administration inspired new generation, young talented people to join the state institutions to modernize the country; he referred to them as “youth of Misha’s times”. Saakashvili expressed regret that he was not able to accomplish some major infrastructure projects and to launch institute of technology in Batumi.
“But I am sure it has been postponed only temporarily and it will definitely be done, if not by me then the youth of Misha’s times will accomplish it.”
“I have not ceased working and fighting for protection of your and country’s interests even for a second,” Saakashvili said.
“I am not tired and will not get tired. Wherever I am, I will continue to both work and struggle. Personally I do not need a rest, but time has come when you have to rest from me. But we should never forget that in fight for freedom and progress of the country, we, as the nation, do not have and will never have the right to rest,” Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili said that he’s “enormously grateful” for the Georgian people. “I love you very much,” he added.