Official web site of the President of Georgia
 

11.18.2016

The President of Georgia Opens the First Session of the Newly Elected Parliament




Dear Citizens of Georgia,
 
Your Holiness,
 
Mr. Prime Minister, Dear Ministers,
 
The Elected Members of Parliament,
 
Madame Chairman of the Supreme Court,
 
Mr. Chairman of the Constitutional Court,
 
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
 
Distinguished Guests,
 
Dear Members of Parliament, my congratulations to you on your victory in the Parliamentary Elections 2016! I wish you successful activities for the welfare of our country.
 
Today, while addressing the new Parliament, I would like to express my deepest respect to the Georgian citizens, who have taken another important step in the process of strengthening Georgian statehood by electing the 9th Parliament. I would like to extend my gratitude to all election observation missions, political parties, electoral commissions and media as they altogether ensured the legacy of the democratic processes.
 
The Parliamentary Elections 2016 have been successful! Despite some violations, they were held in a free environment. As a result, Georgia has democratically elected 150 members of Parliament, who will form future legislative and executive authorities. As I have repeatedly stated, the multi-party parliament would have been a significant step for the Georgian political reality. I believe that such configuration would have further strengthened our democracy, as more parties in Parliament involves more competition and more discussion. A number of political parties were left outside the parliament, out of which, unfortunately, many have been experiencing disorientation, cascading resignations, and consequent collapse. All these have raised nihilism and skeptical attitude toward politics and politicians within the society; however, I would like to address everyone: the political process does not end with elections! On the contrary, the most important period begins after the elections, both for the members of the Parliament and for the political forces outside the Parliament.
 
Considering the state and public interests, I would like to propose cooperation and constructive dialogue to the members of the 9th Parliament. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that during the last three years, protection of institutions, including the Presidential Institute was an important part of my Presidential agenda. It was not my choice; unfortunately, it was the reality that my team and I faced. I believe that if less time and energy was spent on these issues, the resources of the President and other agencies would have better served the needs of our country and citizens. Therefore, on the one hand, I would like to highlight once again that I will not accept even the intention to taint our state institutions, media, constitutional rights of civil society and Georgian citizens; on the other hand, I would like to express my readiness for the active cooperation.
 
Today, in this Parliament, the constitutional majority belongs to the one political party, which will legitimately approve future government. In addition, during the last four years, the same political group has appointed the Chief Prosecutor and the Head of State Security Service for six years term. I would also like to note that the Georgian Dream Party still holds strong influence in the formation process of the High Council of Justice. Therefore, I hereby confirm, as the guarantor of democracy in this country, that democratic process requires exceptional attention and utmost caution. I would like to remind you one simple but obvious truth - excessive concentration of power is indeed dangerous even without any malicious intent.
 
Therefore, I would like to offer you all together to turn current situation into predictable and well-being oriented stability as well as to convert challenges into opportunities with common agreement and cooperation. In order to achieve this goal, we have to fully advance the separation of power with the system of checks and balances and create additional tools to ensure effective civic engagement.  In light of this, I would like to express my readiness to establish the practice of prior consultations on strategically important and problematic issues. Hence, I would like to present my vision and opinion on issues, which first of all need improvement and perfection:
 
Let me start by addressing with current and the most severe problem: Today the majority of our population mostly suffers from existing economic environment – unemployment and poor social conditions. Nowadays, our people expect from the new parliament and future government to solve their problems. Accordingly, I would like to address the ruling party – today you have every possibility to keep your promises: First of all, constitutional majority, which is really a powerful tool for the implementation of any reform; You have newly-granted full political mandate from our society, you have support from business sector and you cooperate with the National Bank without any problems.
 
Consequently, today is the right time to perform actively. It is the right time to undertake bold and extraordinary steps, which will ensure our country’s better economic future, attract investments and stabilize the exchange rate of Lari. I will always be firm supporter of reforms, which will ensure more welfare for the benefit of our citizens.
 
Concerning constitutional amendments:
 
I firmly believe that in constitutional system it is rather important to have a strong commitment towards the devotion of legal tradition of constitutionalism, than to sophisticate existing model. There exist political cultures, where constitutionalism is perfectly implemented without any written constitution or have a document created centuries ago. It is evident that in this situation the guarantor is the devotion towards the legal culture of constitutionalism by the political class and society. In this regard, Georgian constitutionalism is characterized with the unfavorable tradition - to fit the Constitution to the political interests. Consequently, I would like to confirm that the edition 2013 of the Constitution of Georgia has many shortcomings.
 
Nevertheless, the most important shortcoming and established deplorable tradition that is possible to appear in the revision process, will be tailoring the rules of game according to the interest of one particular political group.
 
The most important what our country today needs is exactly the strengthening of checks and balance mechanisms and not concentration of all branches and institutions in one’s hand. Accordingly, it is obvious and utmost important to achieve general consensus on constitutional amendments. I have already responded to the initiative of the Prime Minister and to ensure high reliability proposed the creation of revision working group with the President, co-chaired by the Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister, which will present public-political consent document elaborated with the involvement of the Venice Commission to the Parliament.
 
Talking about checks and balance system is senseless if the court is not free from political influence. The recovery and advancement of the judicial system remains one of the major challenges of the new Georgian State. I would like to propose to invite the EU Justice and Rule of Law Mission to Georgia to elaborate justice system development strategy in spirit and aims of the Association Agreement.
 
When we speak about democracy in the country, it is impossible not to mention the necessity of the existence of a free and pluralistic media. No questions have to be left regarding the quality of free media neither inside nor outside Georgia. We must not have closed talk shows with unexplained reasons, secret surveillance, blackmails, fired journalists and threats against the media representatives. It is vitally important not to have even suspicions of political influence on media. I have always supported and will actively continue to support and protect media, as I believe that the media, as the fourth power should be active and free, which is much more important in today`s political reality. In this regard, I believe that protection mechanisms have to be strengthened and more solid security guarantees created.
 
I would like to underline the issue of political repressions. I clearly understand that the restoration of their human rights on the one hand is the issue of justice and on the other hand is a prerequisite for creation of reconciled and more stable society. However, it has appeared that politicians in many cases are willing not to resolve the personal tragedies, but to manipulate with them constantly. Enough time has passed since these people were released from prison; however, the majority are unemployed, still with a criminal records, health problems and difficult economic conditions. I have raised this issue during my last annual speech. As a result, the Parliament adopted a legislative amendment that allows these people to continue fight for their rights in court instances. To ensure this right, I am ready to provide the resources from the President's Reserve Fund for their legal assistance. Herewith, I propose you to discuss the proposal to ensure them with special healthcare packages if necessary.
 
Through my address, I would like to highlight the external challenges that our country is facing today. To strengthen Georgia`s European and Euro-Atlantic integration process, to deepen non-recognition policy of our occupied territories, the De-occupation as well as demonstration of these issues in the context of global policy remains as the main priority for me. Any civil servant working for this reason in the appropriate institution must be backed by the decisive position of the Parliament as the supreme body that determines country's domestic and foreign policy. I encourage you to be active in this direction and express my readiness to be actively involved in these discussions.
 
Global political context, the challenges of our country and the changed security environment in the Black Sea region in parallel with the ongoing intensive partnership programs require the upgrading of national security policy and looking for new opportunities. Ensuring national security is a complex issue for which the involvement of all branches of government and formation of unified strategy is essential and necessary. In response to the existing challenges, I believe that the national and institutional strategic documents determining country`s national security policy must be updated and based on them the unified national security strategy with the involvement of civil society and high-ranking political officials to be elaborated.
 
The agreement on the main principles precisely on the most painful issue related to the restoration of territorial integrity of our country is also needed. In light of occupation and annexation, last year I offered to the political spectrum and to the non-governmental organizations to start a dialogue in order to elaborate the common position. All the political forces participated in the consultations, except the ruling coalition which, to put it mildly, was incomprehensible to me. I would like to propose to start over the comprehensive dialogue that must become precondition for establishing a common vision of the state consolidating society around this position.
 
Finally, we must start changes today. We do not have time to postpone the building of Georgia`s future for decades. The country needs an instant success in all areas. I agree with the Prime Minister that education must be the country`s top priority. Therefore, I announce 2017 as the Year of the Education.
 
Education is freedom. Only educated person achieves inner social and political freedom. I believe that with joint efforts, we will build free educated society and we will go through the path from independence to freedom.
 
Let me wish successful parliamentary activities to you and success to Georgia!