An extraordinary address means an election speech?17.02.2009 | 09:34
Today, on February 13, Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili was the newsmaker for Russian and Georgian Internet newspapers. His yesterday's address to the parliament "On the situation in the country" was broadcast on several Georgian TV channels and today ru.net is full of quotations.
Some people start their day with coffee, others - with tea; Brits prefer a hot issue of "The Times" and the ru.net readers first stumble upon Saakashvili surname...
Awesome extracts from his yesterday's address do not arouse alarm - they provoke a sneer: "Russia wants to revive the Soviet Union", "Georgia's integrity is opposed by a huge and dangerous enemy represented by Russia"... The report contained some inconsistent judgments: "We will come to settlement with Russia".
An interesting fact is that before the president's address to the parliament Kommersant radio (Georgia) asked some experts and politologists to forecast what Saakashvili would say.
Soso Tsiskarishvili, an economic analyst, was the most far-seeing:
"He will put all the blame on Russia and will dwell on the global crisis. There will be nothing new in the president's speech and the people will hear what they have been hearing for many years".
As if he had known the future... Indeed Saakashvili's main sentiment apart from anti Russian outbursts was the efforts in overcoming the crisis. He remarked that the number of the unemployed had increased in the country but the situation in Russia was much worse. He also stated that Georgia was going to work on the growth of GDP in 2009. As usual he promised to raise pensions and benefits and provide for insurance for the people mostly out of the budget. Saakashvili noted that the government's response to the world economic crisis would be the improvement of business environment and economic situation. The government plans to appropriate USD 1.3 bln dollars for these purposes all the more the West had promised to offer 4.5 USD bln of loans - so there would be no money deficiency.
This time after a three-year interval the president's address was discussed in the parliament. The leaders of oppositional factions and parliamentary majority reminded him of those failures of the country leaders that the opposition keeps bringing up.
Speaking on the president's speech Christian Democratic faction leader Georgy Akhvlediani noted that he had found nothing new in it apart from one or two minor social initiatives.
This is the list of accusations expressed at the debates.
A high level of unemployment and statistical data contrary to facts. No special services in the country that would provide for employment assistance to people. No unemployment benefits. Notorious murders still uninvestigated. Events of November 7. "Imedi" TV debacle. Inadmissible pressure on mass media.
And certainly the August war.
This (and not only) was discussed by oppositional deputies Georgy Targamadze, Georgy Tortladze, Guram Akhvlediani.
The parliamentary majority leaders - Georgy Gabashvili and Petr Tsishkarishvili came forward with severe criticism of the opposition's speeches supporting the government. They said it was the team that had come to power for real deeds and "Deeds instead of words" slogan was not incidental. Not vice versa, as the opposition asserts.
Then there came the president's turn to answer the questions and react to criticism. However he asked for a 5-minute break in order to have a discussion with the government members as he was not used to individual decision-making, as he put it.
He made a speech stating he had enjoyed the debates. Moreover these were the best and highest quality debates he had ever heard in the parliament.
The president emphasized that he had had no intention to please the opposition, boast of the success and good initiatives.
"As any responsible leader I tried to be a realist and present the truth to the people", - Saakashvili emphasized.
He noted that the speeches and criticism he had just heard contained a lot of initiatives he supported and was ready to consider in case real suggestions were given including reduction in prices of medicines and fuel that indeed - the opposition is right! - had flared up.
The opposition is wrong about another thing. The president denied the accusations in putting pressure on judges. He has never interfered in the work of the supreme council of justice since he became the head of the state though his predecessor was very active here. Neither has he ever interfered in the work of judicial system though it was he who started its reform.
Developing the idea Saakashvili repeatedly mentioned to the opposition that his presidential term expired in 2013 and by that time the country should have such a system that provided for the president's total non-interference in important decisions beyond his competence, primarily in legal proceedings. He also underlined that the next president would be elected through democratic elections.