Remarks from Former Georgian Prime Minister Announcing His Resignation

Georgia Today offers its readers the full speech of the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, made on June 13, while announcing his resignation.

"The ruling political force held a meeting yesterday, followed by public statements. A difference of opinion on certain issues between the ruling team and myself became evident. In particular, our conversation involved the economic policy implemented by the government under my leadership. I must emphasize that my opinion and position on a number of fundamental issues differed from those of the Party’s Chairman, especially in the past few months. It is a normal process. Since 2012, including through my tenure as Minister, I have never shied away from debates, and I believe that today is the time when the Party’s Chairman should be able to put together a team in line with his own views. As for economic policy, I would like to discuss it in more detail.

I have served as our country’s Prime Minister since the end of December 2015. I would like to state with full responsibility that in the course of these thirty months, the government under my leadership has carried out crucially important reforms, including vitally important economic reforms. Throughout that time, despite the most complicated political, economic, and security situation in the region, we, together with our team, successfully established an environment of stability in Georgia and put the country on the right track to development. Today, we have the highest economic growth rates in the region, the most favorable environment for doing business, guaranteed protection of property rights, and free trade agreements with some of the largest markets. All this is recognized by every authoritative global organization and clearly reflected in international rankings. Today, even while two of our regions remain occupied, Georgia has a safe and stable environment, as a result of our pragmatic and prudent policy.

We have launched important new reconciliation initiatives. Today, we are closer to the EU and NATO than ever. Today, we enjoy unprecedented support from our main strategic partners, the US and the EU.

We have expressed readiness to take steps toward regulating relations with Russia in the Geneva Talks format, and I believe that these offers will sooner or later yield concrete results. I was sure back when we developed the government’s four-point reform agenda—the foundation of Georgian Dream’s winning platform in the 2016 parliamentary and 2017 local self-government elections—and I remain absolutely confident that we chose the right path for Georgia’s development. I know well how needy our people are; we have many families struggling against the most difficult circumstances of everyday life to provide for themselves, for their children, and to survive. Yes, it is so, but I also have no doubt in my mind that, without our policy, even the possibility of ensuring normal living conditions for the people would have been delayed for many years, which I could never allow, first of all, and, secondly, I believe that the team was fully motivated to work toward this end. I believe that a responsible politician, even more so the Head of Government, is obligated to make decisions, and even unpopular steps in some cases, that aim for the country’s development and long-term objectives, not at immediate one-time outcomes.

I, as the country’s Prime Minister, chose such a policy immediately following my appointment to this office. Everybody remembers well the political and economic crises that have had a very painful impact on our region. It was amid those political and economic shifts that we had to progress and make important decisions.

I would like to emphasize specifically that we made several important and conscious economic policy decisions that may have brought about high economic growth rates as short- and mid-term results, but have failed to reflect duly in the low-income strata. However, had it not been for these decisions, we would not have the current economic dynamics, and improving the country’s economic situation would have been delayed for at least 5-7 years.

These decisions involved floating exchange rates, a moderate increase in refinancing rates to prevent negative economic growth, and steps in the direction of excessive debt and de-dollarization taken only after putting in place macroeconomic, fiscal stability, namely in late 2016 and early 2017, when we started taking these steps after we lowered the budget deficit to prudent limits.

All this absolutely must be pointed out because it has brought about economic dynamics, though—and I repeat—in the short to medium terms. We could have taken steps toward fixed exchange rates, which may have eased the population’s life at the moment. This way, however, we would end up wasting our currency reserves, and would have failed to ensure the economic policy and dynamics we have in the country today—again, delaying the process of development. This is why these were painful but conscious decisions. It would have been possible to adopt certain compensators for the most vulnerable strata when making these decisions, and I accept critical remarks when it comes to that issue, but I repeat that the current dynamics stem precisely from right-wing decisions.

We found an honorable solution to that difficult situation, overcoming challenges that baffle many developed countries, and had it not been for that policy, we would have been facing a totally different reality today.

Today, we have the highest economic growth in the region: 6.5% in April, 5.5 in the first four months of 2018 alone, also a record-breaking tourism growth rate in the first five months of this year (24%), which means that this indicator will significantly surpass 8,000,000 international visitors this year.

In January-April 2018, export grew 22%. Infrastructural projects of unprecedented scope have been launched, with over 9 billion GEL to be invested in their implementation in 2017-2020, and the implementation of these particular projects will create about 40,000-50,000 jobs.

In addition, today Georgia is recognized throughout the world as a safe country attracting investors and fit to host world-class championships and meetings in different global formats.

All this preconditions the country’s development in the rights direction. It is a solid foundation which, I am convinced, will yield great results, and our children will live in a safe, developed, and economically strong state.

For me, this office has always meant the greatest responsibility that a person, a citizen, may ever bear, and I have always tried to fulfill this greatest responsibility with due dignity.

I have tried to be the Prime Minister of each and every citizen. Yes, I have made decisions putting me at a disadvantage, but I always believed—and I still believe with all my heart—that my every decision, every step, was made to benefit my country, my homeland, to make a difference in our country.

I have always been a team player. This is why, observing the attitudes within the team, I made a decision that any team leader must make under these circumstances. Today, I resign from my office.

I absolutely must express my gratitude to scores of excellent people whom I have met while in office. I would like to express enormous gratitude to my staff for sleepless nights, their human solidarity and hard work.

I am very thankful to the Ministers, my team members, who have worked so very hard. I am also thankful to the parliamentary team and, of course, the Chairman of the Party for enabling me to work for Georgia, as Minister at first and then as Prime Minister. I would like to wish success to the team’s leader in every step taken for the benefit of the country.

Thank you very much! May God protect Georgia! I believe that our country will be a unified, glorious, and developed democratic state," the ex-PM stated.

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14 June 2018 11:59