Ruling Party, Opposition React to Ivanishvili’s Address

Georgian politicians from the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party and opposition have responded to the address of the founder and leader of GDDG Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Below is the compilation of some of the remarks.

Ruling party’s response

Irakli Kobakhidze, Parliament Speaker: Population sends us their message at every election and we would of course take it into consideration.  For us, the main priority is to act in accordance to the popular demands. There have been a number of shortcomings in recent years in the actions of the government. No government can be imagined without that, but for us it is vital to do as much as possible to develop our country and act according to what our population’s main grievances are. This is what has been voiced in Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili’s message today.

Eka Beselia, MP: This is the statement of the leader, who knows the price of freedom and of our struggle that was ripening until 2012 and that brought us victory in 2012. This is not about losing power but about our key values, which will be endangered [should Vashadze win], and for the country it would mean returning to the past.

Giorgi Volski, MP: I would not classify people with their names and surnames into “new” and “old guard” [of the Georgian Dream]. I would separate them by their pathos [in a way] that was expressed in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement. Let me say that the [party] unity has become very fragile recently and the system of [its] management has been shattered. Actually, following the 2017 elections, the party has disappeared from the political arena. I would say that Ivanishvili’s return to politics, besides being a positive development [in itself], has been a clear sign that these shortcomings need hard work.

Opposition’s response

Mikheil Saakashvili, Ex-President: Perhaps just like me, you have also seen the startled and fearful Ivanishvili, and you know what his face reminded me of? He had a face of a burglar that you catch next to a house he just stole from and who begs you – just let go of me this one time, and I won’t steal ever in my life again, just do not call the police, I will improve and walk the straight path. And you are sure – if you let him go, he would rob you blind, and perhaps may even stab you.

And so is Ivanishvili – he says he’d get better, and in the meantime the criminals are roaming the districts and threaten people, his gamgebelis [local council heads] are beating up election coordinators, people are threatened to be thrown out from their jobs. This can not be improved. This man has taken 3 billion Laris out of your pockets.

He would improve? What, he’d arrest his own cousin? His own people? [Ex-prosecutor] Partskhaladze, what is he going to do about it? What can he do about Chkhartishvili? Banking mafia and Khazaradze [of TBC Bank]? Of course he can do nothing about all of these things. He’d come to your house again.

If you let go of him now, not only he does not intend to fulfill any promises, but he has very devious plans, very dangerous plans for Georgian people’s future, concerning each of you. He is now as weak as ever, on his hands an knees, and we should not allow him to raise up again. Georgian people are winning now, and this swindler from Chorvila [native village of Ivanishvili] with his low cunning, is now trying to snatch the victory off your hands.

We now hold the power, and he can never take this power from us, from you. The Georgian nation won’t be lied to by him ever again. Boris [using Ivanishvili’s Russian nickname], your tricks are getting old. Get ready to surrender power peacefully, you won’t be allowed to spoil anything, everything will be all right. Now it is up to you!

Giorgi Vashadze, UNM-led coalition: We have heard from an informal ruler, Ivanishvili, and there is a simple response to it. I want to address him and each of the Georgian Dream members that is still governing the country. Million citizens have voted no confidence in you. What we have heard today, is one additional false promise and a  false statement; your words have no value any more to any of the Georgian citizens.

What is most notable, you’ve got the taste for threatening people. No confrontation, no settling of scores will happen in this country. We guarantee, that the transfer of power in this country will happen without any confrontation, peacefully. We respond peacefully to all acts of violence that you undertake during these past days. I want to ask him [Ivanishvili] now – those things that you say, how do they relate to the attack on our activists in Akhalkalaki? And to the reaction of the law enforcement agencies afterwards?

Very calmly and quietly we will start the new stage of rebuilding this country and of bringing it to the whole new stage of development. You had plenty of time to fulfill your promises, to care about people’s problems…

You say you’ve succeeded on international stage – where?! Georgia has disappeared completely from the international discourse. Everyone is talking about occupation of Ukraine, nobody is speaking about occupation of Georgia. Where are closer relations with NATO, or more integration with the EU, which our country so needs?

Internally, look at the exchange rate of the Georgian Lari, look at so many jobless people in poverty. These are the results of your wrong actions and when you speak to us, speak to society, perhaps you could also bring to account those corrupt officials that you’ve protected so strongly before the first round? Are you still supporting those criminal gangs that you supported until the first round? Unfortunately, yes, you do, because you have hatched yet another one in Akhalkalaki headed by Enzel Mkoyan, who you’ve backed up completely instead of calling them to account.

Gigi Ugulava, European Georgia: Today we saw a statement of a bankrupt leader in despair, a man that no longer benefits from the “excess of trust [by citizens]” [referring to a famous formula by Ivanishvili himself] , but has zero trust of our population.

He [Ivanishvili] said that he won’t talk about nine years and the past. They said that the understood people’s pain, but instead, again,  they are planning to bribe the voters – this time with public funds.

People’s demand is for Saralidze’s killers to be punished and for those who covered up this crime, to be punished too. People’s demand is for the reckless officials, who enrich themselves at people’s expense to be reigned in. People’s demand is to reign in informal entities and businessmen such as Partskhaladze. Instead, we see an absolutely shameless statement, that the only mistake of the Georgian Dream was to allow cohabitation with their political opponents.

I want to remind you what “cohabitation” means in Georgia – [it means] “coexistence”.  After 6 years of being in government, they consider it their main mistake, that they were not more drastic with their opponents and did not eradicate them completely, did not ‘hit them over the head’ strongly enough.

There is only one solution in this condition, and I want to address Bidzina Ivanishvili personally: conduct the second round without violence and bear with the result. The Georgian Dream shall already be thinking about holding the next parliamentary elections by proportional ballot, and we should get politically legitimate government, tasked with driving our population out of this political dead-end, this swamp.

Tamar Kordzaia, Republican Party: This appeal was the statement of a despair and scared leader, because he again puts an emphasis on the past and on nothing else. The most terrible disaster is that he cannot see the future. He cannot see the possibility of standing next to the people with different opinions and it is impossible that the Georgian citizens would accept that from him… It has been proven today that  the line of the GDDG and the words of Salome Zurabishvili about existence of two Georgias, belongs to Bidzina Ivanishvili himself.

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