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Saakashvili thanks Putin for “improving” Georgian wine quality

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, September 20
Georgia has overcome the “wine crisis” after the Russian embargo on Georgian wines [in 2006], the Georgian President, Mihkeil Saakashvili said on Friday, speaking at the opening of new hotel complex in the village of Kisis Khevi in the Kakheti region. “Russia’s plans in terms of Georgian wine have failed. Many thanks to Vladimir Putin [Russian Prime Minister] for improving the quality of Georgian wine,” Saakashvili said.

“We have started producing high quality wine. Genuine Georgian wine competes with French and Spanish wines,” the Georgian President noted at the opening ceremony, “I warned Putin about this in 2006 in St. Petersburg. I told him that they would have been harmed by an embargo and would not have wine. However I am told that at The Kremlin parties the foreign guests are secretly given Georgian wine. It means that the only people who now miss out on Georgian wine, are the Russian population.” he said

Saakashvili stressed a need to substitute poor quality Georgian wine exported abroad with a good quality product. “We should promote only good quality wines. We have won many trials, for instance, no more Georgian wine is being produced in Bulgaria, neither in Russia and Kazakhstan. So the only people who are now spoiling the reputation of Georgian wine are some Georgian winemakers, who produce bad quality product,” the President said, adding that they should be substituted with new winemakers who make “better wine.” The Ministry of Agriculture has to make “serious efforts” in this direction, he noted.

Only good quality Georgian wine should be advertised by the state, the President stated. “It means that new jobs will be created, Kakheti will become a rich region. Winemaking will be followed by tourism,” he said “The development of the tourism sphere will increase the income of many Georgian families,” Saakashvili added.

The President pointed out a need to reform the system of educating agronomists. “We are spending a lot of money on education system. The Agriculture Academy has a huge building; however I would like to see the agronomists and winemakers educated there. We need a serious reform in this respect, because the villages are waiting for real specialists. If standards are not raised, there is no sense in the existence of the Academy,” Saakashvili said.

Every authority should realise the “honor and the responsibility” of serving his own country, the President said in Kisis Khevi, commenting on the detention of the former Deputy Minister of Labour, Health and Social Security of Georgia, Nikoloz Pruidze. “The Georgian Government is watchful and anyone can turn up in prison from a Minister’s chair if he is part of corruption deals,” Saakashvili noted. “Since I became President, several ministers and officials of our government, as well as of the previous cabinet have been detained for financial machinations and other crimes. I do not know about any other country, where so much has been done to neutralize the high-rank corruption,” he said.

President Saakashvili visited a newly reconstructed Telavi Drama Theatre as well in Kakheti. “Telavi was a main cultural centre in Georgia. And this theatre was the symbol of this,” he stated “when I was in opposition, we used to hold pre-election meetings here – it was a destroyed and frozen place,” Saakashvili noted, adding that the reconstruction of the Drama Theater are “first signs” of Telavi revival. “This town should be modernised,” the President said, reiterating that Kakheti region has “huge” tourist potential. “By now this is just potential and it needs to be realised,” Saakashvili stated at Telavi Drama Theatre.