Political Opposition

A New National Movement - The First Step

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"The path which we take is the path of truth. Today, Georgia is definitely better than it was in 2004, when we, altogether, took management over it. We have come here [to the rally] because we want Georgia to become better and to continue its development. We have lost much time and cannot afford to halt or backslide. We face a far more difficult objective now than we did over the past nine years. Those nine years were hard years. We, together, went through many hardships, made many achievements, perhaps, made mistakes in many areas, and it is very good that our society has woken us up and told us that there was no place for many of the people that stood next to us – for those turncoats, who only sought lucre and, in the search for lucre, have now switched to the Georgian Dream ....

"Unfortunately, from our predecessors – the former opposition, which is now in power – we inherited zero standards as to how to behave as the opposition. Today, the current opposition faces more difficulties than the government; we [the opposition] must draw red lines and tell the government not to transgress them. We must also tell it that we will never transgress those red lines because these lines are the interests of our country that we must serve together."

Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava.19 April.

"Over the period of the past seven months you have been detained, repeatedly summoned for questioning, kicked out of your jobs, threatened, humiliated and backed into a corner, but still you came here [to the rally] and you stand here. We are still many. There is one thing which, unfortunately, many do not understand: not everything can be bought by billions of lari, not everything can be exchanged for money, not everyone becomes scared....

საქართველოს პრეზიდენტი მიხეილ სააკაშვილი Photo: ალექსანდრე ისკანდაროვი / ტაბულა
"We will stand next to you [the government] in any good endeavor. You are so lucky, not because we have bequeathed to you very good buildings and comfortable offices where you now work; an up and running police service; very good infrastructure and roads; billions of lari in the budget, including for those programs which you are now implementing, you are lucky mainly because when we were in government our opposition cherished treacherous sentiments – every morning it thought about how to market itself to the enemy, how to go to the Kremlin, how to attend a military parade together with Putin – whereas you have an opposition which loves its country... And we will not allow you to betray the country and hand it over to the enemy...

"The government said that its opposition must be Nino Burjanadze, a friend of Putin, in order to leave people with the choice only between bad and worse – either a friend of the Kremlin, Burjanadze, or a half-friend of the Kremlin, the government. I want to tell everyone that they will not have to make the choice between traitors and half-traitors, but will have the choice between the patriots and greater patriots of Georgia...

"The idea of Georgia is great. Georgia is made up of many proud and dignified villages, but Georgia is not a small village. Georgia is a great country! And I want to tell everyone that the entire world is proud of Georgia; our example has been followed by Ukraine, the Baltic States, the Middle East countries. We were the first [post-communist] country which made it into the top ten non-corrupt and successful countries, the first country which managed to combat crime. We were a country which was admired, and is still admired, and we will not be the first country in history to put its own people on trial whilst they, in fact, remain in a state of war with the occupiers of our country."

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. 19 April.

"We have already achieved our first victory and we still have much work to do. It is a pity that whilst in power we were short of time to do many things. Over the period of six months since our defeat [in the parliamentary elections] I have mulled a lot of things over, have met a host of people, have traveled a lot to many regions [of Georgia] and have realized that the main thing which we did not manage to do is to deliver the benefits of what we had been doing for years to each and every family. We created one great thing – a new state but, unfortunately, this new state has not reached the families of Georgian citizens. The biggest problem we left that needs to be tackled is unemployment and new jobs....

"Beginning from today, I guarantee that the key objectives of the United National Movement will be to ensure that every citizen of Georgia maintains his/her job and to force the current government to create jobs in Georgia; if it fails to do so, we will replace this government and, when we come to power, our key objective will be to ensure employment for everyone."
Secretary General of United National Movement Vano Merabishvili. 19 April.

Photo: Reuters
"Let the government see that there is a strong opposition, a responsible opposition in Georgia which will always keep the government in check and will always demand that it work for our people and our society and not for its personal interests or the welfare for its relatives. That is why this day marks the beginning of a very important movement, a new national movement, a national movement geared towards Europe, which will defend the freedom of our country and, at the same time, secure a place for Georgia where it belongs – Europe....

"I want to address those people who are worried and disappointed because of what is happening in the country, but, at the same time, are hesitant – 'What should we do? Should we allow the United National Movement to come back? How should we act? I do not like this government, but should I support the previous one again?' I want to address any such people and tell them: Yes, you must support the UNM because the UNM of today is a different party with renewed energy, renewed blood, renewed vision, with renewed experience that was gained, inter alia, through mistakes."

Leader of the parliamentary minority Davit Bakradze. 19 April.

"Ilia Chavchavadze based our identity on three pillars – homeland, language and faith. None of our occupiers – be they the Arabs, Persians, Ottomans, Mongols – ever totally seized our country from us; they did not abolish the Bagrationi royal dynasty, did not abolish the Georgian state or the autocephaly of the Georgian Church. None of our occupiers offended the Georgian language. The only occupier which did so was the Russian Empire, which called the Georgian language a language of dogs...

"I address our civil and religious leaders, no matter how respected these people are: when they tell us that the only physical and spiritual brethren nation of ours is Russia, they are wrong. Let them not mislead the Georgian nation. Let them recall the corpses of young Georgian guys left abandoned for the dogs and pigs to tear them to pieces in Gagra, Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. There is no place for us where the Georgian Dream is taking us. The Georgian Dream is the force which is gradually infecting us with an anti-European and pro-Russian virus."

UNM MP Akaki Bobokhidze. 19 April.

"Our dignified choice is questioned. We cannot remain under the sphere of Russia's influence. That will be a mistake. Every government makes mistakes, but there are some mistakes which cannot be forgiven.

"You may be concerned that the prime minister of our country hates development; it is worrisome when offensive letters are sent to our Western friends. All of that is worrying. There are also unforgivable mistakes and such a mistake is when the government accuses its own people of starting the [2008] war. That is an unforgivable mistake, a red line which should not be trespassed by any government. Accusing the victim and justifying the aggressor is an unforgivable mistake. That is paradoxical, this is unimaginable. Only the Nazis behaved like that."

UNM MP Sergo Ratiani. 19 April.

Photo: დიმა ჩიკვაიძე / ტაბულა

"The new national movement rests on three basic principles. These are national and statehood freedom, personal and economic freedom and development, and, what's more important, an absolutely new vision of Georgia's function in the globalized world. This is the goal of our gathering today."

UNM MP Giorgi Vashadze. 19 April.

"Similar to gays, the United National Movement, as one of the minorities, must be given the possibility to express their position."

Advisor to the General Director of Georgian Railways, Gia Khukhashvili, speaking to the Asaval-Dasavali newspaper on 18 April, the day before the UNM rally.

"I have to repeat quite often, especially when visiting Europe and the United States, that the survival of the United National Movement, as the former ruling force, and it remaining in the political spectrum, is the objective of Georgian democracy. No matter how much my statement angers those Georgian listeners who think that the UNM must be tried and banned rather than having to survive, I repeat this, and will repeat this over and over again, and would advise everyone to think about what this means."

Georgian parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague. 17 April.

"I do very much want you to overstep the constitutional limits. Many of us, including me, cannot help but wait for that moment when you will overstep these limits. And you can do no harm to us with your 19 April rally."

Georgian Dream MP Koba Davitashvili speaking on 17 April, two days before the UNM rally.

"Are you Georgian? –
Do not go on 19 April,
Are you Armenian? –
Fine then, go."

Georgian poet Jansug Charkviani expressing his attitude towards the UNM rally in a poem published in the Asaval-Dasavali newspaper on 18 April.

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