Occupation, Euro-Atlantic integration, pandemic: Georgian PM makes annual report
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia presented his annual report for 2019 to the parliament and named restoring territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic integration as the country’s main priorities.
The opposition was indignant that the prime minister did not even mention the bloody police response to the massive protests in the summer of 2019.
Here are the main points of the report.
Occupation and territorial integrity
The prime minister stated that strengthening the sovereignty of Georgia and ensuring territorial integrity is Georgia’s main foreign policy priority.
Giorgi Gakharia attested that “the only way to restore territorial integrity is along a peaceful path, one which passes through our strategic partners, and through their active participation in these processes.”
The Prime Minister said that Russian occupation remains the main national security problem and that the Russian Federation, as the state that exercises effective control in these regions, is responsible for all violations of fundamental human rights that occur there.
Gakharia stated that European and Euro-Atlantic integration is an irreversible and vitally important strategic direction for the country to take, and that the Georgian government’s most important task is fully complying with all commitments made to its European partners, which it plans to do through a series of concrete steps.
Gakharia noted that “the country’s overarching goal is obtaining full membership in NATO.”
He also emphasized the importance of relations with the United States as a strategic partner.
Gaharia thanked Georgia’s European and American partners for helping the country combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“The most important process taking place in the country is the process of making constitutional amendments with regards to the electoral system, which have already been adopted in two hearings, and the third hearing will be held in parliament on Monday.
Voting will take place on June 29, and there will be parliamentary democracy based on a proportional electoral system,” Gaharia said.
The prime minister also touched upon the coronavirus pandemic, and noted that all people infected with the coronavirus in Georgia underwent inpatient treatment, and no one was left without medical care.
The prime minister also said that the Georgian government is working with international partners and major international advisory groups to develop a realistic and effective post-crisis economic recovery plan.
“We must turn the pandemic crisis into an economic opportunity for our country. Today, the global economy is changing, so we have the opportunity to transform the Georgian economy from an economy rife with challenges into an economy full of opportunities,” Gakharia said.
Gakharia spoke about the fact that 140 km of new major highways are currently under construction. Of these, a total of 70 kilometers will be open by the end of 2020. Among them: two additional lanes of the Kutaisi ring road, the Khashuri ring road and the Japana-Lanchkhuti section of the Samtredia-Grigoleti road.
He also said that in 2019, outpatient clinics were built in approximately 400 villages, and 41 new emergency centers were created.
Last year, projects ensuring a steady water supply to the villages of Ureki, Mestia, Anaklia, Khobi and Kaspi were completed, and by the end of the year, 300,000 more Georgian citizens will have access to a round-the-clock water supply.
One of the biggest achievements of 2020 will be the opening of Kutaisi International University. The prime minister hopes that the new university will set a new standard for higher education in the country.
The opposition’s assessment
The opposition also attended Gakharia’s presentation of the report and was indignant that the prime minister did not mention the events of June 20, 2019 when the authorities dispersed a rally against the presence of a Russian State Duma MP in the Georgian parliament using water cannons and rubber bullets.
“During the presentation of your report, you did not mention June 20, but how could you forget this day? Did you delete it from memory or from the calendar? Didn’t these events happen in 2019?” said Otar Kakhidze, a member of the European Georgia faction, addressing the PM.
Kakhidze recounted the timeline of events on June 20 of last year and asked him if he felt responsible for these events.
The Unified National Movement faction reminded the prime minister of the failure of the Anaklia port project, as well as of the citizens who suffered from the coronavirus pandemic and were left without assistance.
“Yesterday, the budget was approved, and today it is dead, because the compensation (for the victims of the pandemic) should have been about 500,000,000 lari (about $160,000,000), but half of those who were supposed to receive aid didn’t receive anything,” said Roman Gotsiridze, one of the leaders of the Unified National Movement.
The prime minister did mention the ports of Anaklia and Poti, noting that as many American ships as possible should dock on the Black Sea.
But forgot to mention that the first ship was supposed to arrive at the port in Anaklia at the end of 2020, and that the construction of the deepwater port needed to be completed by then.
This chance of this happening under the current administration is zero, because of this gift they gave to Russia.”