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President Salome Zourabichvili Submits Order on Extension of State of Emergency to Parliament for Approval

Mr. Speaker of Parliament,
Distinguished Deputies,
First and foremost, I want to wish you a Happy Easter. Christ is risen!
I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families who have lost their members during the pandemic, as we had a new loss today.

Let me also thank once more our population, which has taken into consideration the existing situation in the country, the possible risks, and set an example of high civic self-consciousness.
It has been exactly a month since we gathered here and, in accordance with Article 71 of the Constitution, declared a State of Emergency on the entire territory of Georgia.

Thanks to the State of Emergency, we managed to control the situation to the fullest extent possible and to protect the country from extreme complications at the first stage of the spread. This result is directly correlated with the timely and effective decisions of the Georgian authorities, the well-organized coordination of all government agencies, and the diligent efforts of our doctors.

Hence, I believe it is not admissible that at these times, despite the devotion of our doctors and our entire medical staff, offensive remarks be made about them. This does not suit us.

The facts that we have maintained low rates so far, in comparison with other countries, and that we have received well-deserved international praise are the results of the efforts shown in every field.

My conversation with Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, also exemplifies this. He praised the decisions taken by the Georgian authorities against COVID-19. He especially emphasized that the primary measures had led to the first phase’s success. We have to be proud of this.

However, as we await the most active stage of the pandemic, regardless of our primary success, we cannot be content. We cannot let our guard down. On the contrary, we all know that the internal spread that has already started will make the situation much worse.

It is crucial to keep the speed of internal infections under control and not overload the health care system. It is important to be able to treat every patient with serious medical needs, to have beds available for them, as we have accomplished until now.

Considering all of this, extending the State of Emergency is essential to keep the situation under control. That is why we have assembled here.
We must be united about this decision, as we were a month ago, because our society must fully understand how crucial it is to deal with this second phase as successfully as we did it in the first one.
There cannot be controversial opinions about the prolongation of the State of Emergency. We must trust our doctors and experts in the health care system, and be guided by the international recommendations and their practice.
Some of us have demanded an anti-crisis plan immediately. We all agree on the need for this plan, but such a completely legitimate demand should not be a reason to hinder the extension of the State of Emergency.
Today is not the time for populism and false promises. Getting out of the current crisis will be severe and tough.
No one, even the richest countries, countries much wealthier than us, has either prepared financial resources, nor magical, complex anti-crisis emergency action plans. At this time, it is of vital importance that Georgia managed to and was one of the first to address international financial and other partner organizations.
In response to our decisive steps, we obtained a first massive flow of financial assistance, and based on this, a crisis management plan is being developed.

We expect that the government will introduce such a plan in the coming days, and I do hope it will respond to the needs of our citizens and of our companies, in need of urgent help from the state.
We all should be ready to stand in solidarity.

I find it necessary to keep the State of Emergency into effect today, for the purpose of reducing the pressure of the social-economic crisis and of mitigating its outcomes on our population, as an early lifting of limitations could cause untimely and major dangers, such as a new outbreak, according to which we would be forced to stiffen the measures even more. We have no right to make such a mistake.

Therefore, upon the submission of the Prime Minister of Georgia, and in accordance with Article 71 of the Constitution of Georgia, I have issued an order on the declaration of a State of Emergency on the entire territory of Georgia to prevent the massive spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and to avoid the imminent threat to the life and health of our population. According to the order, the State of Emergency will remain in force until May 22, 2020. The existing decree will be valid for the same period and does not provide any additional limitations.
By taking this decision, we give our country the possibility to successfully pass the difficult path, until the end of the struggle. Up to date, we have taken exemplary steps; we managed to hold the State of Emergency, which did not go beyond its scope. Restrictions did not affect, for instance, the freedom of speech and of the media; it has minimally restricted (in comparison with other countries) human rights, namely the right of movement and gathering.

Moreover, everything is being done so that the extension of the State of Emergency bears no negative impact on the timely adoption of constitutional changes, and therefore, on the electoral calendar, and on our democratic path.
I do believe that we will manage to show the world that it is absolutely possible that a small state can give an example not only of overcoming this health crisis, but also of emerging out of the economic crisis with new potentials. In the meantime, it can show an excellent example of solidarity. This will be our, everyone’s real victory.

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