Official web site of the President of Georgia
 

04.07.2016

2017 Annual Report of the President of Georgia

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Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Ministers,
Mr. Chairman of the Parliament,
Honorable Members of Parliament,
Madam Chairperson of the Supreme Court,
Mr. President of the Constitutional Court,
Dear Governments of Adjara and Abkhazia,
Dear diplomatic corps,
Dear members of the society!
I welcome you, and congratulations on Annunciation!
In November last year, I addressed a new Parliament. I stated that holding a constitutional majority by a single party within the Parliament was a threat of concentration of power, but at the same time, it was an opportunity of bold reforms and initiatives.
What we have actually received after five months?
The alleged political threat has turned into a serious problem while the dynamics of reforms is not promising.
Unfortunately, the ruling political party has rejected the dialogue process and isolated itself. Considering this context, I would like to welcome the decision on holding debates today.
I have repeatedly emphasized after the victory in the elections, that I am in service of every single citizen and I am the President of all voters of my country. This applies to you as well - you are the Ministers and the members of Parliament of every single citizen, regardless of political affiliation. I look forward when the winner political power starts seeking for allies, not for enemies; as I believe that unification of the country and society must be the greatest ambition a politician may have. Therefore, I once again call on you to be engaged in a dialogue, and in the institutional cooperation.
With this spirit, I recently launched a campaign "Constitution for All", to involve Georgian society at large in discussions on constitutional values and to establish the basic principles of national consent. I hope, such discussions will further unite our society and the people's voice will be heard more actively.
These meetings make it clear that our society has a lot of interesting views on the basic principles of the country arrangement. I would like to inform the Constitutional Commission members, that people need more democracy, not weakening but strengthening the self-governance; access to education and its quality enhancement; more elective positions and increasing their accountability; strengthening public control mechanisms. Society wants more involvement in the decision-making process and clearer social protection guarantees to be reflected in the Constitution. We cannot deprive people of the right to elect the President. The Presidential election need to be adjusted on the interest of the society, neither on the wish of current or former Presidents or Prime-Ministers but on the creation of effective balance of power.
At the meeting with public yesterday, the citizens of Kutaisi clearly expressed their wish to maintain the building of the Parliament in Kutaisi and despite the vigorous debates, I promised them to represent their position here, today.
Our society needs a sense of national unity, support and participation in important decision-making process.
Let us listen to the people!
If we listen, it will become clear that the citizens' actual and urgent problems remain unsolved, and we still have not managed to build a state in which no one lives in streets, no minors work in streets, no children live in extreme poverty, no elders have the feeling of despair and no one is hungry or cold.
Jobs, poverty, increasing prices, miserable pensions and national currency instability - these are the actual problems of our society, which is obvious without any research.
Today we are all pleased that economic growth rate of Georgia, according to the January-February statistics has been improved. I hope, this trend will be maintained with through the active involvement of the Government, the Parliament, the National Bank and other actors.
However, growth of economy and investments will remain as useless statistics, unless there is a fair and efficient distribution of our scarce national resources, wealth and job opportunities. It is unfortunate that the boost of investments does not proportionally lead to the creation of new workplaces. Due to the lack of qualified local labour force, foreign investors hire foreign professionals. Therefore, to make better use of foreign investments, in terms of employment, we need to prioritize improvement of vocational education in Georgia to meet the requirements of contemporary labour market.
Herewith, labour protection and safe working conditions, which are of a high concern for our population, are resolvable at the legislative level. I do not imply the strict regulation of the labour market, but the establishment of minimum safety standards is essential.
We observe the trend of national currency appreciation, which, among other external factors, is the result of jointly coordinated policy actions of the Government and the National Bank; however, it is impossible not to admit the problem of inflation in the country, which is the heaviest burden for our population and the private sector, which is under a double pressure. Because, on the one hand, companies face increase in production costs, on the other hand – sales of products are declining.
 
It is a simple truth, that the economy and entrepreneurship is the basic fundament and the driving force of the state development. Therefore, creating well-functioning environment for businesses and entrepreneurs is not a good will of the Government, but the expression of a common sense. Permanent communication with businesses and support is an obligation of the Government, not a prerogative! Moreover – decision makers need to envisage private sector as the basic precondition for their well-functioning and survival. And if you thoroughly understand this truth, then elaboration and enactment of economic reforms should not happen without prior consultation with businesses.
 
Then, supporting job-creating sector should be the strategic goal of the state.
Then, empowerment and functioning of the private arbitration need to be functional as it is an effective tool for business dispute resolution.
Then, state and private sectors need to work jointly for mutual reinforcement. The Ministry of Finance and the investigative service of the Ministry need to be orientated on partnership with businesses and preventing violations, not on imposing fines.
Listen to those who create national wealth!
At the same time, I would like to emphasize on the role of the Government in maintaining the competitive business environment, which is a prerequisite for building a strong economy.
 
Let us face the recent tendency when the large business further expands on the expanse of the acquisition-merger of small business. This is especially evident in financial sector, where non-of the same profile companies unite in a single holding to obtain control over the market in different sectors of economy. Under such circumstances, small and medium business cannot become stronger and problem of unemployment will not be solved either.
In this context, consumer rights are not protected in terms of price-setting as well. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate functional law on competition, its enforcement and further activation of the competition agency.
It is necessary to continue and further enhance those successful projects which have been implemented under the active effort of the Government – “Produce in Georgia”, “Startup Georgia”, „Plant the Future” and others. The most important are large infrastructural projects, which will enhance Georgia’s transit, logistics and tourism potential.
In my opinion, it will be a bold move to develop the capital market, which would generate long-term and alternative cash resource for strengthening the private sector. At the same time, timely implementation of the pension reform would make this strategy more efficient.
It is decisive for the country to further stimulate local production. With this aim, I have initiated the campaign, “Ask for Georgian”, which contributes to the economic growth, job creation and strengthening the national currency.
In the frame of this campaign, in parallel to the local production popularization, we have created the loyalty card which allows consumers to get bonuses when purchasing Georgian products. Today, you will be the first owners of these cards and I encourage you to ask for Georgian.
 
Obviously, it is not an easy task to solve the above mentioned socio-economic problems. Their solution is also interconnected with the European integration process. In this respect, we have taken the significant step forward.
On the 1st of July last year, the Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement entered into force. Now we have a Visa-Free regime in Schengen zone.
However, we should not stop on this achievement. Georgia’s declared and final destination is to return to its historical family of the European states. The same priority is reaffirmed by the “Resolution of the Parliament of Georgia on the Foreign Policy of Georgia” adopted on December 29, last year. I applaud the spirit and aims of this resolution.
Therefore, we have to start the active work to become the EU applicant country. For this aim, it is necessary to strengthen democracy and sustainability of state institutions, protect human rights, the rule of law, economic development and to create the efficient and functional European system of justice.
The widening of Europe-Asia transport corridor still remains the goal of our foreign policy. In this respect, the involvement of other countries in new projects will guarantee Georgia’s security and welfare.
The aim of our foreign policy is to ensure more engagement of friendly nations in Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration process and the effective use of different cooperation formats with the Baltic, Scandinavian, Visegrad Group, as well as with other friendly states. Today, in light of the new Administration of the White House, it is crucial to further activate Georgia’s problematic issues and ensure Georgia’s high presence on Washington’s political radar.
The non-recognition policy is an excellent example of cooperation and efficient policy with our partners, which is successfully pursued by the Georgian state and its partners. In response to our success, the Russian Federation takes actions towards the factual annexation of Georgia’s occupied territories. Therefore, as in the case of the non-recognition policy, it is necessary to create the Anti-Annexation policy of Georgia’s occupied territories with an active engagement of our allies and take coordinated steps to deter the annexation.
At the same time, we have to react promptly on new dividing lines and installation policy of barbwires, cases on the prohibition of education in Georgian language in Gali schools, as well as kidnapping and destructions of our cultural heritages. We have to be firm and united on such important issues of our country.
Hereby, I would like to address our citizens in the occupied territories – no one would have imagined the fall of Berlin Wall and the leader of the united Germany, becoming a citizen of the Eastern Germany. I hope that one day artificially built walls will be destroyed and the leader of the united Georgia, living beyond the wall will become a Georgian citizen. Time will come when divided society of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions will be united, when Georgians, Abkhazians and Ossetians will be able to find the one, who will unite us, when the refugees will return home safely.
Protected citizen, protected society, protected state – is the corner-stone of the statehood. The security begins from the perception, which unites society by territory, as well as by values, interests and lifestyle. Precisely, this exact consent forms creates a capacity to resist the aggressor.
In response to modern challenges, threats and specificity of our region, it is important for the state institutions and the entire society to be united and to have a common vision towards our country’s national security. With this exact aim to form the unified national security approach, I have ordered the National Security Council to start the public strategic discussions. After this discussions, we will agree on unified approach on the national security and its implementation will turn our state, armed forces and society into a single defensive system. The National Security Council is the constitutional body where I review the implementation of tasks and consult with the members of the Council on strengthening our security and defense capability.
In parallel, it is crucial to update the country’s National Security Concept, elaborate national security strategy and further enhance national security system.
Last year, at the National Security Council meeting, I supported the upcoming reforms in the Defense Ministry. The U.S. supported “Georgia Defense Readiness Programme” and the NATO-Georgia Substantial Package help us in the processes of reform implementation and building our defense capability.
The proper military reserve and mobilization system, together with the strong professional army is the main pillar of our defense capability. We have discussed the “Concept on Development and Management of Military Reserves” presented by the Ministry of Defense. I think that this concept has to be supported and will gain a public approval.
Moreover, I see the final solution of disputed issue regarding the restoration of compulsory military service in the frame of this renewed concept. I welcome this approach, when each recruit will undertake a three-month Basic Combat Training course; However, I think that the compulsory military service should serve only to the defense capability of the country and therefore, other state institutions must find alternative resources to support the functions carried out by the recruits.
I want to express my gratitude once again to the Georgian Armed Forces and their families for their devotion and sacrifice towards our country. Georgian soldiers strengthen the image of our country in the international arena and are the guarantors of the united, strong and free State. The contribution of Georgian soldiers is invaluable on Georgia’s NATO integration path.
Georgia’s NATO membership perspective remained as a priority at the Warsaw Summit and at the same time, Georgia was invited as a participant of the strategic discussions on the Black Sea security issues. The security of the Black Sea begins in Georgia. Secured Black Sea is a precondition of economic cooperation and long-term stability in the region. With this purpose, Georgia’s active involvement in building the security architecture in the Black Sea is of utmost importance. Georgia will not be presented in the upcoming Brussels Summit due to its format. I address the heads of our strategic partner countries as well as their representatives to our country – Your Excellencies, Ambassadors: be our voice in upcoming NATO Summit – European security is ensured through the security of Georgia’s and the Black Sea.
We, politicians, have supporters and critics as well. It is crucial for democratic state that critics should have the right to voice their opinions publicly and legally. This is the only way towards the unification of the society - through the ability to listen to different opinions and have a hope to find justice.
The Justice system is my constant concern. More protection and independence, more democracy of court system became the basis of my political statements and actions. However, the main actors of this process should be judges themselves. The fight for court independence should continue in each court, each hall, in the cabinet of the judge or meeting rooms. This burden has to be carried by everyone. Unfortunately, corps of judges remain silence on this issue.
Recent developments in common courts have once again highlighted the existence of crisis in this area.
In the autumn, I mentioned the necessity of the European Union expert mission’s involvement in solving this crisis. I repeat once again – we need a highly qualified European expert mission, which will determine the exact causes of the judicial crisis and help us in search for solutions.
In the context of regular shortcomings in the judicial system, it is crucial to hear the boldest and the most extraordinary views in the constitutional amendment process. I think, if these views are developed in coordination with our Western partners, they will trigger revolutionary breakthrough in the court system.
A citizen is unprotected, if he does not have a right to a fair trial.
A citizen is unprotected, when he is deprived the right to pray, when he is discriminated against his ethnic origin.  A citizen is unprotected, when he is persecuted because of his distinctiveness, when he is oppressed because of his sexual orientation. A citizen is unprotected, when he is ill-treated by the law enforcement officers, when he is persecuted for political or other reasons, when he is maltreated by those who, have to be in charge of protecting him, when his private life is violated, and when he is illegally wiretapped.
The state security is unshielded unless its all citizens are protected.
In the nearest future, the Public Defender will deliver a speech from this rostrum, which includes many problematic issues.
Public defender is a constitutional body and it is of a state importance to react adequately upon his report. Therefore, analysis and consideration of the Public Defender’s report will prevent many threats. Let us remember that a sharp reaction to a single misconduct will prevent abnormal cases from developing into dangerous tendencies for the State. Let us remember that hundreds of our citizens await for a reaction even on a single case of excessive use of force by the law enforcement officers, arbitrary arrest, fair trial limitation, violation of elders’, children’s and disabled persons’ rights, repressive drug policy, and environmental damage. It is a false view that a crime must be systematic to react politically upon it. Prevention begins from reacting upon a single crime case.
As for the criminogenic situation in the country, which is also a public concern: I have stated this before that inter-agency and public unification programs are key in the fight against crime. A prominent example of such cooperation is a campaign against the domestic violence, jointly carried out by several state agencies, which has achieved a significant success. I affirm my support in implementing such programs.
I would also like to address the Georgian media: you spread the voice of people, who are the source of democracy; you control the Government and criticize misconduct; you shape public opinion! This means that you, the Georgian media, have actually been formed as the Fourth Estate. And it is necessary for the proper functioning of the state, the Georgian media, as a formed branch of the Government, to work effectively in a free environment.
We have seen how consolidated you have been, when some of you were under threat. We have seen how successfully you have united not only your colleagues, but also the Georgian society to defend the fundamental principle of democracy - the freedom of expression. Recent developments in media have clearly highlighted that your power is in your unity. I wish your further reinforcement… I am ready to help you to hold an effective dialogue for a systemic and complex reinforcement.
At the same time, as for the current problems in the media, our society and the international community await for the termination of dangerous and non-transparent processes in the media.
Democracy, more democracy is the answer to all problems. The means of solving local problems is decentralization and electiveness.
I address political parties: local elections are approaching. We need a functional self-government; we are in need of electoral reform and in this regard I support your consolidated efforts.
But it is crucial strong political players to offer a new choice to our society. Strong political players are vital for the Georgian democracy. Search for common ideas, find connecting paths and offer a strong and reliable choice to repeatedly frustrated voters.
Last year, I supported four initiatives of the Prime Minister, including the idea of fundamental reformation of the education field and announced 2017 as the year of education. Over these years, a dozen projects were financed by the Presidential Reserve Fund and we will continue financing various projects this year as well. Consider me as your partner in educational initiatives and reforms, as all existing problems in the country are actually related to education.
Education is a guarantee of protection. Our knowledge protects us! It protects us from deceptions, falsities and manipulations.
Education is a precondition of freedom. An educated and intelligent person understands own choices and protects own rights. An educated person can neither be manipulated by propaganda, nor be frightened by artificial scarecrow. Education and statehood thinking are directly linked to one other. One can only defend own and a country's freedom, when he shares values ​​as a citizen, as a member of own nation, as a carrier of own nation’s memory. When you know who you have been, you think about who you will be tomorrow and how to act today in order not to betray own destination and be truly free.
And, at the end, precisely for our and our citizens’ freedom, considering the active public participation and united spirit, I have decided to support the appeal of citizens on the so called law on wiretapping, which has caused a huge anxiety over the recent period, and address the Constitutional Court with a different status - the status of a friend of the court that will give me an opportunity to support the court in making a better decision.
 
Thank you for your attention!