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Prime Minister speaks to journalists

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 17
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stated that even if Georgia does not receive the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) this year, Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration would not change. He also stressed that Georgia does not anticipate any serious provocations from Russia prior to signing the Association Agreement with the European Union, adding that Georgia is ready to assist Russia in anti-terrorist actions related to the Sochi Olympiads. The Prime Minister also commented on almost all important issues ongoing in the country during his first press conference.

Gharibashvili informed that he would attend the Munich Security conference. The Prime Minister also plans to attend the World’s Economic Forum in Davos on January 22-25.

“I will also have an official visit to Israel in the new future where I will sign a document on a free trade,” Gharibashvili stated.

The PM did not share the vision of the Parliament Speaker of Georgia Davit Usupashvili (who had said several days ago that if Georgia does not get MAP this year, the rejection might create threats for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration).

“We will do our best and it is really excellent if Georgia gets MAP this year. However, if we do not get it this year, we will get it in the future… in the case of rejection, we will have the same course,” Gharibashvili said.

The Prime Minister stressed that he did not see any threats from Russia with regard to NATO/European integration.

“20% of our land is [already] occupied by Russia. What other threats are there?” Gharibashvili asked, adding that if Russia takes provocative steps during the Sochi Olympics concerning the de-facto regions, Georgia will react appropriately.

Regarding domestic issues, Gharibashvili stated that he will name a new Chief-Prosecutor and that he does not plan any changes in the government. He emphasized that he has no questions concerning former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili’s claims.

“He was not taken out from prison illegally. No one needs to kidnap him from prison. He sits there and will stay there. I believe in the statements made by the Ministry of Corrections. If someone has questions concerning the issue, they can appeal to the ministry and will get a response,” Gharibashvili said.

Regarding Mayor Gigi Ugulava’s suspension from office, Gharibashvili stated that it was a legal process and the decision was made by an impartial court.

“Unlike the previous government, we do not involve ourselves in the court’s verdicts,” Gharibashvili said.

In addition, the Prime Minister said that due to the opaque behavior of the previous government, Georgia is dependent on imported products.

“80% of products are imported in the country, it is a real disaster. We are actively working to develop our own industry. The government will actively collaborate with businesses in this regard. Of course, we will not set artificial barriers for imported products. However, we will do our best to increase the country’s domestic industry,” Gharibashvili stated.

“Based on the figures delivered by the World Bank, we will have more than 6% growth in 2014. It is a figure of the World Bank and not of our government” Gharibashvili stated.

The Prime Minister underscored that energy independence is very important for the country. According to him, the Khudoni Hydro Electro Power Station, which is planned in Svaneti, will significantly solve Georgia’s energy problems.

“The power station is opposed by locals. We are not going to build something against the public will. That is why an investor will do its best to remove all the questions concerning the harm of the power station, and persuade locals in the necessity of the power station,” Gharibashvili stated. The PM said that the Georgian Government has launched the construction of a thermo electric power station in Gardabani and started a test project for using wind energy.

Gigi Ugulava responded to the press conference by stating that Gharibashvili is “incompetent and a liar.” Ugulava stressed that the government directly involved in the court’s activities to suspend him from his office.

UNM MP Zurab Tchiaberashvili stated that Gharibashvili practically announced Merabishvili’s verdict through the words “that he sits in prison and will stay there.”

Merabishvili states that the coalition will have to answer for all the illegalities committed against him.