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Former PM open letter

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, May 31
Billionaire former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, who established the current ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, published an open letter in which he summed up the past four years of GD governance and talked about the government's future plans.

In the beginning of his letter, Ivanishvili discusses the past years when the United National Movement (UNM) along with President Mikheil Saakashvili were in power.

“The country was nothing but one big prison…the government enjoyed full control over the media, and the media said and covered only what they were told to say and cover. The country was plagued by elite corruption,” the letter reads.

According to the ex-PM, physical violence is over in the country but violence through propaganda and lies continues, which can harm the public even more.

“We have no way back to tyranny,” writes Ivanishvili and explains that his only wish is not gaining power but building a stronger and better country.

The main part of the letter is devoted to the GD party's activities and Ivanishvili underlines that when they came into power in 2012, the economic and general situation of Georgia was worse than they had imagined.

“Despite critical attitudes, the government made the only right decision to free the judiciary of governmental influence…we depoliticized our police forces that will never again be used to settle a score with political opponents. The media is completely free from government control. Notably, today, more TV stations operate in Georgia than ever before,” the letter reads.

Furthermore, Ivanishvili points out that nowadays business is free from governmental pressure and the government promotes entrepreneurs to enlarge their business. He also talks about the Universal Healthcare Program, which affects every single citizen who needs medical treatment or operation. Ivanishvili claimed implementation of Hepatitis C program, which covers the whole medical treatment of the infected patients.

According to ex-PM, one of the most notable facts is that the government transformed country’s debt-based economy to an investment-driven economy and in 2013-2016 the amount of Foreign Direct Investment in Georgia grew by 62 % compared to 2009-2012 and the country’s foreign debt has decreased 2.5 times compared to the previous three years.

“We succeeded in opening the Russian market to Georgian products without making any political concessions to this end. At the same time, our export to the European Union in 2015 was twice the size recorded in 2012,” says Ivanishvili and believes that in 10-15 years by 2030 Georgia’s economy will be similar to the European ones.

The letter also covers Georgia’s European and euro-Atlantic course issues. According to Ivanishvili, Western course does not mean that Georgia will not treat neighbors with respect and will not take into account their interests.

"We will do everything to normalize relations with Russia without harming the Georgian interests. We will try to deepen ties with important partners and friends - Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia. We are launching interesting cooperation with Iran. Georgia is actively involved in the Silk Road Project which has huge economic and political potential,” the ex-PM says.

Moreover, Ivanishvili notes that Georgia is patiently waiting to enter the Euro-Atlantic structures as soon as the convenient time comes.

“Because democracy and free environment make up the only foundation of our prosperity, integration with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic institutions, accession to NATO, is a strategic priority of Georgia’s foreign policy,” he said and noted that the government is actively working on the implementation of this choice and carries out reforms in order to come closer to Europe and to make Georgia a European country.

Ivanishvili ends his letter hoping that Georgians will make the right choice in the upcoming October 2016 parliamentary elections, saying he is going to get actively engaged in pre-election campaign and meet the people.

The UNM says the data given in Ivanishvili’s letter is far from the reality. According to UNM member Roman Gotsiridze, the numbers given in the letter are illusions and dreams which did not come true.

“This report does not match with reality. The statistic figures are distorted. It does not reflect today's difficult economic situation which was caused during the last four years,” Gotsiridze stressed.

The Finance Minister, Nodar Khaduri, says the figures provided by Ivanishvili are real. He approves of Ivanishvili’s decision to meet the public and become engaged in pre-election campaigning.

“During the last four years a lot has been done, but there is much to be done in the future too. We not only managed to keep economic growth, but also achieved a fairly good indicators,” he stated.