Below is a statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, issued at 9 pm Tbilisi time.
“I would like to comment on the developments in Tbilisi over the last two days. Yesterday and from today morning we have been having active discussions in the team on what has pushed our youngsters, our children, to take to the streets and what they are emotionally speaking about right now just some meters away from the government chancellery.
Yesterday evening, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze made a statement on behalf of the team, where he outlined our position on the matter and called for unity to everyone – our youngsters, our society – in countering the grave crime of drug trade, in what has claimed the lives of numerous youngsters recently.
That the government will have a firm position on drug trade on the one hand, and will be a lot more humane to drug users on the other, I have said on numerous occasions and I stay faithful to it.
I would like to address you again, our children, our friends, our precious youth, that you are the future generation, the future of our country. I will personally guarantee that today freedom of speech and expression will be upheld. The is the very achievement that our government and each and every one of us takes pride in. Of course, this is your achievement as well. That humans and freedom of expression are our priorities, has been confirmed in recent years. The police and other law enforcement agencies are doing everything at their disposal so that you manage to express your opinion freely. The government has been sparing no effort to uphold these important rights, and any type of a confrontation is categorically unacceptable and is an attempt to divide the society.
I call on the law enforcement agencies to increase security measures to avoid possible confrontation. I would like to stress again that each of the sides, each person has the right to express their opinion freely, but confrontations in expressing the opinions is completely unacceptable and we can not let it happen.
I would like to urge you again to maintain unity over common objectives – over the future of our country, over the lives of our children. We should not allow hatred for alternative opinions [to prevail]. We need to stand united in protecting human lives and the future of our country.”