(Civil.Ge) — In his New Year’s address to the nation President Saakashvili said Georgia was now in “downward spiral” with ongoing “destruction of democratic institutions” and “systematic degradation of relations” with western allies.
In his 13-minute video address shown on TV before midnight on December 31 and before PM BIdzina Ivanishvili’s New Year message, President Saakashvili laid out a five-point plan, which, he said, was required in order to prevent the “country from sliding backwards.”
“Democratic transfer of power is good if it makes us closer to Europe, if it strengthens democratic institutions and if it makes people’s life better. But we all know very well that only democratic transfer of power in itself is not a source of joy and does not mean that these goals are automatically achieved. History knows many examples when democracy itself was used as a mean for defeating democracy, when on behalf of the democracy democratically elected politicians use victory for destroying the democracy,” Saakashvili said.
“We have passed first huge test with a success, but even bigger test is ahead of us,” he said and added that this test was about maintaining democratic gains.
He said that pre- and post-election rhetoric in the country was reminding him one saying that “dream about bun is just a dream and not a bun itself.”
Saakashvili said that the new government’s decision not to focus on large-scale infrastructure projects was a mistake, which was causing failure to create new jobs in the country.
“In addition, there is a sense of political instability and tension, which more and more resembles an attempt of provoking civil confrontation and [an attempt] to wittingly or unwittingly split the society,” Saakashvili said.
“Instead of taking efforts to improve social conditions of the people and to deliver on its promises, the new government, unfortunately, struggles for strengthening of its own political positions, for the complete destruction of opposition and political competition,” he said.
He said that pressure exerted on local self-governance bodies by the government and its supporters in the provinces “creates threat of chaos and civil confrontation, which carries us with huge pace to the past.”
“Destruction of democratic state institutions is underway, which undermines the idea of statehood,” Saakashvili said.
“Systematic degradation of relations with Georgia’s western allies, with the most strategic partners of our country is underway perhaps because of government’s mistakes and its inexperience. I do not want to believe that this is an intentional process,” he said.
He said that “deteriorating crime situation” and “irresponsible decisions” by the new authorities, apparently referring to the amnesty bill, was posing “a huge risk to our safety”.
Saakashvili also said that such a situation was contributing to “losing investors’ confidence” and slowing down of economic growth.
“These are alarming signs,” Saakashvili said and added that such a situation needed to be addressed immediately.
“I am sure that the government can improve the situation before it is not too late and I am ready to help the government in preventing worsening of the situation,” he said. “I want to offer the ruling party and its leader [PM Bidzina Ivanishvili] my readiness for a cooperation in order to get the country out of this downward spiral in which we are now before it is not too late.”
For this reasons, he said, he was offering “a concrete five-point plan.”
“First – let’s stop aggressive and insulting rhetoric against each other. It concerns me too. Let’s give up portraying each other as criminals and traitors. There will be a criticism and it should be, but let’s not allow use of hate speech against each other; we all have supporters and by resorting to such rhetoric we will split the society apart,” Saakashvili said.
“Second – repressive campaign of persecution, arrests, questionings of opposition, as well as senseless revision of the past and witch hunt should stop. Persecution of free media should stop; groundless attempts of portraying of previous authorities as bloody criminals should stop,” Saakashvili said, adding that situation, wherein top news was arrests and criminal proceedings, was not contributing to the economic development.
Georgian Dream leaders have recently announced about the plans to offer President Saakashvili’s United National Movement party to launch discussions on a possible amnesty for those alleged crimes committed by representatives of the previous government; but as Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili said the amnesty would not apply to “violent crimes” and large-scale embezzlement of state funds.
“Third – let’s get united in order not to allow undermining of Georgia’s relations with the West and not to hinder our country’s integration to the Euro-Atlantic structures,” Saakashvili said.
“Fourth – stop attacks on the local self-governance bodies.”
“Fifth – let’s restore confidence of local and international business community towards Georgia with our joint efforts. Let’s hold a large-scale international investment conference, which will be led jointly by the President and the Prime Minister,” Saakashvili said. “Let’s jointly demonstrate to everyone that despite of heated political confrontation, this is a civilized and reliable country.”
“I want to request everyone not to receive my five-point proposal as a political game. With this proposal I offer the ruling party and its leader path towards the success,” he said. “This five-point proposal is neither a New Year toast nor an ultimatum.”
“This is a step needed for stopping the country from sliding backwards,” he said. “In following weeks and if needed months, I plan to explain to each and every Georgian why these five steps are essential for Georgia’s wellbeing,” Saakashvili said.
“With this five-point plan I extend the hand of cooperation to the Georgian government,” he added.