Speech by Newly Elected Chairman of Parliament of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. Prime Minister,
It is my honor to welcome each of our citizens inside the country and our compatriots outside Georgia.
Following the constitutional reform and substantial democratic changes, today, the X Term Parliament will hand over the baton of further strengthening of democracy, good governance and Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration to the new Parliament. At this, I am grateful to our colleagues for their 4 years of work and cooperation.
Georgia held the 2020 Parliamentary Elections in a substantially proportional system, which, according to respectable international observers, was conducted in a competitive environment, with the protection of fundamental rights. Despite the pandemic, up to two million of our fellow citizens took part in the elections and we have no right to question their choice.
The 2020 Elections created an opportunity for multi-party parliament, co-operation between healthy political forces, debates based on arguments rather than insults, policies typical of Western democracies, and this achievement should not be lost amid the inconstancy of a part of the opposition. Democracy stands for participation and its boycott is inadmissible. It is much more democratic to fight and negotiate inside parliament than to use other means outside the legislature.
Responsible, future-oriented politicians shall seek the opportunity to reach an agreement, to properly appreciate the trust expressed by our citizens, and the efforts of our country's friendly ambassadors to facilitate political dialogue. Everyone should respect the official results of the elections, which reflect the decision of up to 2 million citizens, and is confirmed by the signatures of thousands of officials of the election administration, as well as, I emphasize - more than 11 thousand representatives of opposition parties.
Please pay special attention to this public mandate, conduct our parliamentary activities with great responsibility to the citizens and maintain direct and active communication with the public as much as possible throughout this period.
We have a young democracy, but over the years, with the support of our community and international partners, we have been able to strengthen important institutions such as a free media, an active civil society, more efficient self-government and accountable government. Today, we have various media in the country, which often and actively echo the voice of the opposition; we have a civil society that is free to express its position on any issue; the country has a government that adheres to the standard of accountability and reports to the legislature on a regular basis. In the last two years alone, the reports by the Prime Minister and members of the government to the Parliament have exceeded the total of the last 15 years.
The X Term Parliament already has uniquely important and effective tools to guide the country's legislative process, oversee the executive, ensure public involvement in decision-making, and conduct the process openly, transparently and efficiently. The new Parliament will also be special in terms of gender balance - now more and more professional and successful women are welcome to participate in the work of the legislature.
Today, we could not have gathered in this hall had it not been for the unity and solidarity of our community, had it not been for the months-long, tireless struggle of healthcare professionals against the COVID-19 pandemic. The new coronavirus has put the whole world to the test. Since March 2020, face masks, social distance and strict restrictions have become part of our daily lives. The fight against the invisible enemy continues. The great loss and pain for our society is the deaths of people from the coronavirus. I would like to express my condolences to each family who lost a loved one.
I bow down before our fellow citizens and especially thank those who stood on the front lines of the struggle, sometimes at the cost of their own lives and health, to protect our society, ensure order and security.
I particularly extend my gratitude to:
- Doctors, nurses and epidemiologists, who have been working tirelessly for several months to save people;
- Police, soldiers and rescuers who maintain law and order even in the face of restrictions;
- Teachers who remotely provide education to children and young people;
- Volunteers, members of the community who help the lonely, Georgian citizens in emigration, the elderly and people with special needs.
- I especially thank our strategic partners, the United States and the European Union, international organizations and financial institutions for their support of our country, whose assistance has been very important for our country in the conditions of the pandemic.
Reliable information about the Coronavirus vaccine allows us to say that we will be able to restore normal conditions of public life in time.
The state anti-crisis policy and the economic plan are aimed at protecting human health, as well as stabilizing the economy and speeding up its recovery. The state has taken important steps to help the affected by the Coronavirus. Under the anti-crisis plan, taxes were deferred to citizens and entrepreneurs, utility bills were subsidized for families, financial assistance was provided to needy families, the self-employed received support, capital projects were maintained, credit and guarantee schemes were developed for SMEs, loans were deferred, funding was allocated to maintain basic food prices, the pension indexation rule will take effect from January 2021, we were able to support the agriculture, tourism, development sectors and mobilize financial assistance for all children up to the age of 17 years.
The Parliament of Georgia is committed to support economic reforms in 2020-2024, assist the private sector and finance innovative projects, ensure the financial and technical support for agricultural development, provide the implementation of major infrastructure and energy projects, including water supply, gas, electricity, etc. It all in turn will provide new jobs, increased incomes for rural residents, rural development, economic recovery and the economic progress of the country.
I am convinced that with the unity of the society and the reasonable and effective policy of the state, we will definitely defeat the pandemic and be able to restore the economy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The achievement of national freedom a century ago was the result of a long struggle for independence. Since then, our country has gone through many historical upheavals. The efforts of generations have certainly not gone unnoticed. We properly appreciate the dedication of public and state figures, solidarity of citizens, memory of the fallen heroes in the fight for the homeland, the most important role of the church and clergy in the construction of the state of Georgia. Today, Georgia is a worthy member of the international community, which is the achievement of our society as a whole.
However, the state faces significant challenges: restoring territorial integrity and ending occupation, further strengthening democratic institutions, strengthening security, and ensuring greater economic growth. Protecting national values and cultural identity is also the mission and duty of our generation to our children.
In its time, after the fall of the First Republic, Georgian emigration to Europe continued to fight for the freedom of the homeland, for the preservation of the Georgian state and national, cultural aspirations. Even today, together with our compatriots, we defend our identity and build a modern, strong, fair state that was the dream of our ancestors.
Georgia's development takes place in a complex region and amid a historical period full of challenges. Particularly painful in this process is the continued occupation by Russia and the seizure of Georgia's historic lands, with hundreds of thousands of IDPs still unable to return home safely.
Particularly alarming are cases of illegal kidnappings, erection of barbed wire and artificial barriers, grave human rights violations and the loss of life. Georgia's response to all this is a policy of reconciliation and engagement with people living in the occupied territories, while at the same time, with the support of international partners, creating the conditions to end this unjust and artificial division of our society and territory.
Only through faith, strengthening of democracy, strengthening of security and economic development, conduct of a responsible foreign policy and the unification of society will we be able to restore Georgia's territorial integrity and maintain peace.
The Georgian Dream will maintain and further strengthen the key achievements of the 2012 democratic transition - human freedom and security, democratic governance, constitutional order and stability. It is paramount for us to protect human rights and justice, because without it, democracy is just a mere word. Our government will continue to do everything to load democracy with real content, the tradition of which was established in Georgia in the nineteenth century, as a result of the tireless work of Ilia Chavchavadze. In this case, a place around the table will always be found for those who share the same goals and values.
Dear fellow citizens,
Similar to the First Republic of Georgia, the idea of Europe, European and Euro-Atlantic integration is the main cultural and political orientation of modern Georgia. Every step assumed towards the West under the rule of the Georgian Dream serves this purpose.
The X Term Parliament with full responsibility will work to:
- Ensure a pragmatic and responsible foreign policy and strengthen security;
- Protect the national values, culture and the identity of our nation;
- Continue efforts to restore Georgia's territorial integrity, take care of IDPs and their peaceful return;
- Pay special attention to the implementation of the principles of the rule of law;
- Promote and oversee the protection of human rights;
- Contribute to the further development of professional, impartial public service as well as the further establishment of fair relations between the state and citizens;
- Oversee the legitimate interest of taxpayers resulting in fair and efficient spending of the budget;
- Promote the development and involvement of young people, creating new opportunities for their employment;
- Promote civic integration, full participation of ethnic and religious minorities in the functioning of society and the state;
- Care for and show solidarity with the socially vulnerable;
- Care for senior members of our community; ensure that children receive a good education and that their health is protected;
- Take care of the detainees and their families.
This is only part of the tasks that the X Term Parliament will have to face.
We take pledge to the society that through consistent and coordinated actions we will create all the conditions for Georgia to apply for full membership in the European Union by 2024; At this important historical moment of our country, the Parliament is committed to cooperation, discussion with healthy political forces, and we are equipped to fulfill the powers imposed by the Constitution.
I would like to thank each and every one of our fellow citizens, regardless of their choice - this is the Parliament of all of you. I thank the supporters of the Georgian Dream, to whom we owe our victory in the elections! I especially thank our political team for the trust and the Chairman of the Georgian Dream - Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili. I would like to congratulate you on your victory in the elections, receiving the powers of a Member of Parliament, and wish you success together with our country!