President Received Verbal Whipping
17 February, 2011
President Received Verbal Whipping

Unusual Debates in Georgian Parliament involving Mikheil Saakashvili

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili did not diverge from the tradition. He entered the hall with characteristically quick steps, being several minutes late. Before proceeding to his address, he asked foreign diplomats attending the event to stay till the end of the sitting, including the later part that was devoted to the debates. His argument was – “The question of democracy in the country is decided here, in this hall, not in some dark rooms.”

The President reported to the Parliament and the public for the seventh time. His address generated so much elation in the majority and MP Tortladze that the President had to be interrupted no less than 33 times to receive applause.
Saakashvili congratulated Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Minister of Penitentiary System and Legal Assistance on her birthday. “Today Khatuna Kalmakhelidze reached adulthood and hopefully, from now on she can perform her tasks even better. I am not serious indeed because she does her job excellently,” – said the President and named those MPs who had been in contact with the Ministry previously.
“It is here that visions of the country need to be aired,” – these were the words that preceded the Presidential address. The President acknowledged that the biggest problems of Georgian population are inflated prices and expensive life.
150 millions of unknown origin for Agriculture
“I see a huge number of families who are desperate about increased prices. Many are scared of the future. They feel as if their lives are regressing,” – lamented Saakashvili. He advised to the MPs imagine the start of the day for a mom who counted every penny for family use and who then learnt suddenly that sugar and vegetable oil prices soared to 3 and 4 Lari accordingly. Besides, he suggested to the MPs imagine also an unemployed man who was at a loss what to tell his wife and his children and who knew that tomorrow bread would be even more expensive.” The President gave still more food for thought. This time he framed an image of a student and his or her hardship, strife to reduce expensive meat in the ratio.
“For me, every day starts with these thoughts,” – admitted the President, adding that his every thought is a thought of all these people. He promised to do everything to bring back hope to them and help overtake their despair. Yet, he did not fail to note that prices are on the rise not only in Georgia but in the whole world. In contrast to the rest of the world he vowed to take effective steps. “I am not going to become wet blaming the global nature of the process for everything. We ought to find a local solution. We have to protect economy from inflation,” – announced Saakashvili.
For that to happen, he promised to the population to distribute first of all 30-Lari food vouchers. He remarked that just like electric power voucher, the food voucher could be given to another family. He said this would be another small help of the State to the impoverished.
“This step will help us get around the worst quarter where prices are most unstable. Hence, the 30-Lari support will be a short-term retreat for every hard-press family,” – pointed  out Mikheil Saakashvili.
The second initiative foresees increase in the funding of agriculture. According to the President, the reason for the funding is the need to help develop local agriculture to counter rising prices. He said that if Georgia had had a much more developed agriculture today, the country would have stood up to the soaring food prices with more vigor; that is why the President vows to allocate 150 million Lari for the development of the sector. He claimed that Georgia will increase its wheat production by 35% no later than 2013, which in turn would decrease country’s dependency on fluctuations of world market prices.
2013 replaced with 2015
In previous years the President used to set the end of his office as a deadline for this or other milestones. Now though, he specified the date in the year of 2015. All of his promises fall on 2015.
He pointed out that the major priority was creation of jobs because unemployment was a single major hindering factor on the way to the country’s development. Simultaneously he highlighted ongoing construction of roads, railway lines, and gasification.
“All these represent a guarantee of new jobs and economic opportunities for our people. Without them, there is no room for even dreaming of economic success,” – said Saakashvili. That is why all the regions will have good roads by 2015.
Talking about improvement of infrastructure in the country, the President raised the issue of water supply in regions. He promised that by 2015 all the Georgian towns and large settlements would be equipped with modern water supply systems.
In the same year, Georgia would have as much as 17 hydropower stations in operation. The President stated that construction of these stations would create new jobs and double electricity production in the country.
The year of 2015 would witness also completion of oil refinery construction. As the President noted, the Government is already negotiating the subject with foreign partners. Saakashvili asserted that the refinery would meet all the requirements of the country in oil products and help reduce fuel prices.
Debates in the Parliament
During his visits to the Parliament, the President was most irritated by Christian-Democrats. This year, he managed to restrain himswlf during the speech of the CD party member Giorgi Akhvlediani but lost his head (as pupils may do during exams) in the face of the Levan Vepkhvadze’s address and asked him - Vepkhvadze – to specify the source of what he was talking about.
Giorgi Akhvlediani stated that every year the President promises better life and future to the country but every year the deadline was put off to later years.
“Could you possibly allow an exception and give us adequate answers. Otherwise, debates loose sense. If the Authorities are not adequate, holding the ruling position looses sense,” – said Akhvlediani.
CD Party called President to look behind his own “distorting mirror”. If the President  looked into the distorting mirror, he would notice severe social problems, innocent people killed, millions of people subsisting on the verge of total hunger, injustice and so on.
“Experience it yourself – no light, no wood, no money. Then see if we really overtook Switzerland or it is the other way round,” – turned Akhvlediani to the President. He reminded to the National Movement that they must be thankful to IDPs that they are at the top of the state power.
The IDP issue featured in the core of another oppositioner’s speech. Paata Davitaia proposed to the President to choose those actions which would soften hearts of Abkhazians and Ossetians. Davitaia was content that last year Georgia succeeded on the international arena in view of the word “occupation” taking its due place in the diplomatic vocabulary. At the same time, the Government needs to give more attention to its citizens. In this way, Abkhazians and Ossetians would not be put off to turn their faces back.
The President interrupted CD Levan Vepkhvadze around the time when the latter was talking about the potential of the country to have cheaper gas than it is today. The President asked Vepkhvadze to name a country where gas is cheaper than in Georgia.
“You are lying fundamentally. Don’t you believe in God?” – appealed the President to Vepkhvadze. The Christian-Democrat though reminded to the President that Georgia is not using its agreement with Azerbaijan, nor is it making Gazprom pay for the transit. The confrontation between the President and the opposition re-ignited around the issue of corruption too. The speaker pronounced a word “elite corruption”, explanation of which was immediately demanded by the President. Details of elite corruption were explained to the head of Georgia by Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Parliamentary Minority, who pointed towards the President Saakashvili as the one sitting at the apex of the corruption pyramid. According to Targamadze, there are two types of corruption: the first is when money goes directly into pockets, and the other is when tax payments go to the budget but its spending defies any control.
“This is the corruption, where you sit at the top,” – Targamadze  told  the President. As an example, Targamadze noted that the President had a nice web site where anyone could relish beauty of the Presidential Palace but there are no Presidential decrees on the site in fact.
“This is a sort of corruption when one cannot find and guess where the money goes,” – complained Targamadze. He advised  the President to change attitudes to the current problems or face mubarakization.

 

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