Saakashvili accuses opponents of “winner takes all”mentality.

President Saakashvili addressing PACE in Strasbourg on 21 January 2013. (picture courtesy of the Council of Europe).

President Saakashvili addressing PACE in Strasbourg on 21 January 2013. (picture courtesy of the Council of Europe).

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday (21 January) addressed the Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. In a wide ranging speech he spoke about Georgia’s current political challenges, its relations with Russia and  Georgia’s long term European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations

Referring to events that unfolded in Georgia following the Parliamentary elections on 1 October, Saakashvili said that PM Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition was suffering from “winner-takes-it-all mentality” and accused the new government of applying “selective justice” and targeting former government officials, UNM lawmakers, local authorities, judiciary and media. He said that the new authorities were pursuing the “campaign to silence political opposition” and accused the government of attempts to get constitutional majority in the Parliament through “direct blackmails” against UNM lawmakers pressuring them to switch sides. He also accused the government of pressuring Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and claimed that the government “pushed the director of GPB to resign”.

Saakashvili, however, also said that there was still room for “a fruitful cohabitation” and mentioned his five-point plan, which he offered to the new government in his New Year’s address to the nation as a basis for cooperation.

“Nobody has the interest in the failure of the new government, because this failure would hurt the country in general. This is my solemn pledge, let us work together to improve what can be improved in our democracy,” he said.

Saakashvili said that recognition of October 1 parliamentary election results without delay was one of his best political decisions; he said that after the elections the Georgian Dream was able to form its government without any meddling from the President despite the fact that under the constitution he had power to prevent it; he suggested that as the President he tried to play the role of “a neutral arbiter.”

“Unfortunately some of the events that unfolded later [after the October elections] made this kind of neutral arbiter’s role much more difficult to enforce because very foundation of the constitutional system came under attack” by the Georgian Dream, Saakashvili said.

The full speech of President Saakashvili can be watched here or on the website of the Council of Europe

Report prepared by CEW staff with reports from and