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Much Ado about the Annual Address of the President of Georgia

Published: February 11, 2013 | 9:45 am
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili postponed his annual address by several hours on February 8 since hundreds of his opponents blocked the entrance to the National Library where he planned to deliver his speech earlier.

Manana Mandzhgaladze, press secretary to Saakashvili told journalists that the president would deliver his TV address to the nation from Presidential Palace. Because of the issues technical issues linked to LIVE streaming of the President’s speech, the deadline was postponed. Later, in the evening the President finally delivered his speech: “I want to apologize not only to our people but to representatives of the diplomatic corps for the incident and for the actions of the police, or rather the inaction of the police, because I, as the head of state, am responsible for ensuring order.”

Saakashvili stated that there is a fight to destroy the independence of the parliament, courts, and government, and to cancel the upcoming president election.

“There is no democratic country in the world where the president is prohibited from holding a speech in parliament,” he said.

Georgian President’s annual address is usually delivered in the parliament. However, legislators voted on February 7 to delay his speech indefinitely.

As Parliamentary Speaker David Usupashvili told journalists on February 7 the speech was postponed because of the ongoing debates over constitutional amendments that would limit the President’s right to dissolve the government without parliament’s approval.

“I was inside the building so when I went in things were relatively calm, I don’t know how the situation deteriorated exactly; I do know that the Minister of Interior was there when we left and he said that the government would prosecute anyone who had committed a crime and that’s the correct posture,” declared Richard Norland, Ambassador of the United States of America to Georgia.”We condemn the violence and we believe there should be an investigation and those who were responsible for the crime should be prosecuted.Clearly, the government has a responsibility to protect… to provide law and order; as I said, if there are indications that people continue to employ violence this evening then the authorities need to take responsible measures to prevent that from happening. And the United States certainly … my message to those people directly would be no matter how much they feel they have been wronged in the past this is not how they should try to address those grievances.”

EU Ambassador to Georgia Philip Dimitrov commented on the events which took place in front of Georgia’s National Library.

 

“Gathering crowds to attack political events should not be tolerated in any democratic country. Assaulting and beating elected officials is outrageous and brings no good to Georgia,” Philip Dimitrov told “FrontNews”.

As Georgian President mentioned in his above-mentioned speech, one of the achievements of his government is that today the country is on the world map focus: “Whatever happens here is followed by relative response from abroad,” stated Saakashvili.

Economic experts worldwide agree that instable political situation might affect investor confidence in any country. This is true for Georgia as well.

“When there is unrest on the streets of the capital and this is reported on overseas it inevitably reduces confidence. The politicians on both sides should put Georgia first and behave responsibly. No one who loves Georgia and respects the rule of law should engage in or condone violence,” David Lee, Chairman Emeritus of American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia (AmCham), General Director of Magticom, told CT.

Investor confidence, that is a key factor in attracting investment, requires a predictable policy environment to attract much larger amounts of foreign investments in the types that would boost long term economic growth.

The majority in the parliament is represented by the Georgian Dream coalition, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Saakashvili cancelled his initial plan to speak to the nation from the National Library after former political prisoners gathered there. The protesters, demanding Saakashvili’s resignation, planned to stage a so-called “corridor of disgrace” for the President.

Mikleil Saakashvili’s presidential term expires in October and he is barred from seeking reelection. His long-ruling National Movement party was defeated in parliamentary elections last year when Ivanishvili became PM.  Since then cohabitation process has proved to be tough.

 

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