Saakashvili Speaks

Newsweek‘s Anna Nemtsova interviews Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili:

Nemtsova: Who wants your resignation?

Saakashvili: Mostly unemployed people. We fired about 250,000 people as a result of our reforms. A big percentage of these people have not managed to find themselves in the new economy. Fighting corruption and crime, we put thousands of people in jail. In Tbilisi alone we convicted 8,000 people; all of their relatives are outside today, asking me to resign.

What is the most painful part of the criticism?

I am not hurt by the criticism in Georgia, as I am hearing it from two opposition TV channels all day long. I did not expect the West to put all the relationships with us on hold while waiting for this revolution. An official delegation from France decided to postpone their visit. A Turkish company moved a scheduled contract signing until after April 9, and an Arab company until April 12. What is the matter with these people? Do we stop going to Paris or Strasbourg during their street protests?

Who sponsors the Georgian opposition?

Most of the money—millions of dollars—comes from Russian oligarchs. I have documentary proof of that, which I am not making public yet. Whether the money is being sent from Russia under the supervision of the Russian government, that I do not know.

Some experts predict a new military conflict as a result of social instability in Georgia. How possible is it that Russia and Georgia will begin another war?

The Russian government would probably be happy to see me leave the post. I could suppose that some of the military authorities in Russia think of attacking Georgia today, to say later that it was me who invaded Russia to distract the attention of my opposition. A week ago Russian tanks arrived in South Ossetia. We have information that there are about 5,000 Russian troops in the territory of South Ossetia, and 5,000 troops in Abkhazia.

Do you think President Medvedev would support the idea of another war with Georgia?

I do not think he would appreciate such an idea, as I saw how happy he was when President Obama gave him half of a smile. Russia heard clearly Obama’s characterization of the August war. He called it “invasion,” and by that one word Obama drew a red line between Russia and Georgia. Neither Putin nor Medvedev is interested in crossing it again today.

Do you think it is possible that the Russian and American presidents might make a deal over Georgia? How do you think U.S. politics will affect Georgia under the new president?

The Kremlin might make an attempt to agree with Obama—say, that Russia helps the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia, and the U.S. helps Russia to achieve their geopolitical interests in this territory, to help Russia change leadership in this country. For many, I seem to be a dead end for relations with Russia. I used to be much more charmed by U.S. politics.

Who are your supporters in the U.S. today?

I have quite a few good contacts. Of course, my best friend was always John McCain. You can say he is Georgian already. We expect McCain to come and visit us in a week or so. I have good relationships with Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and especially Richard Holbrooke—he is my teacher. I learned a lot of great things from him.

Do you feel that the West is disappointed with you? Have you been in touch with President Obama yet?

Oh, yes, I have talked to him on the phone. The problem is not about us—the problem is about their own internal politics. We have integrated into U.S. internal politics. So during the change of power, there was some sort of vacuum in America. Nobody knew what to do with us. Everybody, including France, was waiting for Obama’s guideline on what to do about Georgia. I admire American ideas. I used to idealize America under Bush, when ideas were above pragmatic politics. Now it is a new time, when pragmatic politics are in charge of ideas. That might spoil the America I know.

Would your policy with Russia be different now if you could turn time back?

Moscow blamed us for not keeping our promises. I am not sure what could be done now. I could hardly do anything differently. The values we appreciate are not embraced by Russia. Should I have compromised? If I did, we would have been like Kyrgyzstan, losing our democratic values now, or as poor as Armenia, whose economy fully depends on Russia. Just as our politics have been independent from the Kremlin all these years, we will handle the demonstrations as if the Russian issue did not exist, and Russia as if the demonstrations did not exist.

19 responses to “Saakashvili Speaks

  1. I really like the way Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili speaks. Always to the point he answers questions. Some wars have to be fought even if you know that you will lose. Moscali would turn Georgia into another Chechnya.

  2. Just watched the head of the South Ossetian “Defence” ministry publicly state that he expects a Russian attack on Georgia in june

  3. George

    Moreover he eat his ties with bon appetit!

  4. Moscali are vicious cur dogs, that will fight if they think that they will not get hurt, but only as long as they are winning. The Rooskies are only good at defending themselves, when cornered like rats and, they are shooting each other in the back.

    Too many neighbors are pissed off and the brave Chechen Freedom fighters were able to defeat the Rooskies by themselves the first war. They have shown us how. Just let the Rooskies stop paying Kadyrov and see what happens.

    The East and the Caucasus will do it alone, if the US stays out of Afghanistan and leaves Iran alone. America cannot stop Iran from dominating the Middle East. Israel should make friends now as later America will be no help. Forget Europe because it is too decadent already.

    • “A soldier in Russia’s southern republic of Chechnya killed the commander of his platoon and two others before trying to shoot himself in the head”

      Wow, another one. Happens like every month there, officer fragging murder-suicides.

  5. “We fired about 250,000 people as a result of our reforms.” – wow, kinda like Bremer in Iraq.

  6. Robert, ????? Your utterance doesn’t seem to be working out for you.

    I know you gave it your best shot, but, you can do better.

    • Um?

      It’s certainly not good to have a LARGE part of the population “fired as a result of our reforms” and since then unemployed.

      Bremer, he fired all Iraqi soldiers – so many of them joined the insurgents. I knew “Misha” fired all Georgian traffic policemen when he came to power (and rightly so, because they were Russian-style completely corrupt outfit), but “250,000”?

      • He basically had to fire the entire government, including the police, interior ministry troops, and most of the army. Most of the public servants (including my wife) went too.

        However, as my wife said, there were so many bad apples in the barrel it was easier to get rid of them all and start hiring and training new ones (and rehiring those with clean records).

        • This was Bremer’s reasoning in Iraq, too (firing every single Baath party member and disbanding of the Iraqi Army and hiring-now if one’s clean)… ended in a bloodbath.

          • Yes, but slightly different circumstances in this case.
            No Sunni/Shia insurrection or car bombings etc.
            And he did it over 5 years ago too one might add.
            I think the number 250,000 might be a kind of throw away line too.

  7. Hurray! for heroic, though not 100% perfect, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili! And I do hope and pray, that he and his government weather this current Moscow-orchestrated effort to remove him., and/or another Putin-invasion of his country. But, I greatly fear that he and Georgia cannot depend on our new leftist-flaky US Pres. B. Obama.
    Mr. Obama seems bent on pleasing all of America’s enemies and critics, both inside of America….and more especially, abroad. IF…he lasts his full term, which I doubt he will, his wrong and harmful anti-American and anti-friends-of-America decisions and acts, will help America to swing distinctly to the …right. Already, the ‘bloom is off the rose’ , and the honymoon is starting to go sour, with more and more average Americans, …starting to wake up to the leftist-IDIOT they have, so foolishly, put in office, even among his zombie-like devotees, who so mindlessly voted him and his extreme-leftist Democrat party, into the driver’s seat in Washington. To them, they worship him, as if he were indeed, ‘the Messiah’!
    Under his misguidance, he WILL I predict, lay the groundwork for the next US president, to HAVE to go to a hot war with our…dear ole friend, Russia.
    If that happens, I hope that we push the button on our nuclear missiles first. But, regardless, (truly):
    BETTER DEAD!…than RED!
    Reader Daniel
    P.S. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but we have plenty of evidence that Putin’s gang, are planning just such an attack on America!

  8. hello i am a german journalist and last week i had been in Tbilisi.On the outskirts the georgian troops are building massive military fortifications,they are digging out trenches,building anti-tank,tank and artillery installations etc..
    It seems,that Georgia awaits a russian invasion soon.Just two days ago the always well-informed russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer stated once more,that he expects a russian large-scale invasion of Georgia in the coming six weeks until late may.


    Thanks for your comment. The question then becomes: What will Germany do if Russia moves to invade?

  9. To be honest,the actual german government is coward and consists of people,who are licking the russian´s feet because of oil and gas.They will do nothing!!!

    • Hillary Clinton is no better. She put the Chinese at ease at their first meeting by telling them straight off that human rights was not going to be an issue with the US. The Russians understood that to apply to them as well.

  10. And the “minister of defence” of the Ossetian separatists was on TV last night predicting a war in June.

  11. “If I did, we would have been […] as poor as Armenia…”

    GDP – per capita (PPP):

    — Armenia $ 6,400 2008 est.
    — Georgia $ 4,700 2008 est.

  12. Well considering the abject poverty in Armenia, as opposed to Georgia, methinks the Armenian government may be fibbing a bit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s