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President says Georgia must use all of its potential, as 2016 ‘will be hard’

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 4
President Margvelashvili made his annual address before Parliament on February 3, during which he spoke about the domestic and foreign challenges Georgia is currently facing.

For the first time since his election in 2013, his speech was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia and his ministers.

In his opening remark, the President appealed to lawmakers for a minute silence as on the day, 11 years ago, Georgia’s former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania died, who, according to Margvelashvili, was an “architect of European Georgia”.

The President stressed that Georgia gained independence 25 years ago and now it was time for Georgians to create a free nation, based on the strength of democratic institutions and not certain individuals.

The President highlighted all the achievements Georgia could gain in 2016 in terms of Georgian-NATO, Georgian-EU, Georgian-China, Georgian-United States and other directions and stressed the importance of non-stop cooperation for full integration into the Euro-Atlantic space and closer cooperation with foreign nations.

Margvelashvili underscored that as 20% of Georgian territory remains occupied, the issue should be repetitively pushed by Georgian diplomats in the international arena.

With regards to Russia, the President stressed that the country has always used its levers for political interests and Georgia’s negotiations with Russia’s Gazprom energy giant should be “very transparent”.

The President has stated that global and regional difficulties provoked a rage of economic and political problems in 2015 and stated that Georgia “must maximally use all of its potential in 2016 to overcome its problems, especially in economics”.

The President stressed that domestic stability – both economic and political – were essential for Georgia to reach its goal of full EU integration.

In this context, the President mentioned the importance of independence and the good work of various institutions; the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the Constitutional Court of Georgia, High Council of Justice and the National Bank of Georgia among them.

Margvelashvili stated that the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the High Council of Justice should become subjects of genuine reform in order to meet European standards; as for the Constitutional Court and the National Bank of Georgia, the President stressed that the bodies should be safe from outside interference.

The President stressed that the media was free from political interferences, but said that media freedom still requires constant protection.

The President also spoke about the importance of women in various fields of life of Georgia, andthe protection of mothers and children.

One of the other topics of the speech was this year’s upcoming parliamentary elections, and the President expressed his hope that there would be no embarrassing conduct in the run-up to the elections that could harm Georgia’s international image.

On this note, the President mentioned the necessity of timely election reform and the importance of empowering local government in eery region of the country.

The President also spoke about the importance of the existence of several, strong political parties instead of two main rival factions.

Margvelashvili said that society in Georgia is strong, but underscored the importance of educational reform, as according to him, it will be hard for Georgia to progress without qualified people.

After the speech, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that Margvelashvili’s speech was “interesting, with many important focuses”.

Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli stated that Georgia has a “very good President”.