The founder and leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, released a written statement on April 8, calling for unity and “rational, cool-headed” thinking against “speculations of revanchist forces.”
Ivanishvili opened the address by speaking about the tragedy of April 9, 1989, when Soviet Special Forces dispersed a crowd of peaceful protesters on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, killing 21 people.
The ruling party leader said the day “determined the fate of the Georgian nation and the future of our country.” “Freeing Georgia from the claws of the Soviet empire and achieving Georgia’s independence and freedom was the very grand national idea that brought the entire nation together [on April 9],” he noted.
“This was one of the most difficult and tragic days for Georgia, but this day became a symbol of our struggle for freedom and independence… the only thing that helped our people resist with bare hands the brutality of the Soviet regime, stand in front of the Soviet tanks, was the love of their homeland and sheer emotions,” he added.
Ivanishvili said these very emotions led the country to restoration of statehood, but in the first days of independence “when cool-headed, tireless work and public consolidation were needed, emotions prevailed over rationalism.”
“We first overthrew the government, pushing the country into the chaos of civil confrontation; then we allowed criminals to tear the country apart. Later, as if we [finally] woke up [to reality], we gave the country a geostrategic function and knocked on the door of NATO, but having sunk in corruption and stagnation, we managed to bring to power a home-grown dictator on an emotional wave,” he also noted.
“On April 9, 2012, twenty-one years after restoration of independence, Georgia met with no signs of democracy, overpopulated prisons, silent media, occupied territories and a cynical model of oriental tyranny… This was the trajectory of our statehood – a downwards spiral with absent [public] mobilization, work and compassion, where almost all historical decisions were driven by impatience and emotions,” Ivanishvili went on.
Ivanishvili then stressed the tide was broken on October 1, 2012, when Georgians “obtained unimaginable victory.” “Not many believed that we would manage to combine emotions and rationalism so ideally, but we have managed it and we freed the country from an oppressive regime peacefully and bloodlessly,” he said.
“The spirit of April 9 was reborn on that day, and it has been seventh year that our country is run on policies based on rationalism, a policy that has ensured uninterrupted foreign and civil peace, unprecedented for the history of Georgia,” Ivanishvili added.
He then stressed, the situation is “nevertheless paradoxical.”
“As a rule, economic development in democratic countries follows democratic progress and increased human rights protection, but because our government ensured high level of democracy and raised the level to European standards, the state of our economy objectively fell behind,” Ivanishvili noted.
The GD leader said “forces wishing to stir chaos, are using the [very] democratic mechanisms that we have established, and are trying to return us to the darkness of 1990s by speculating on economic problems, by playing on emotions again.”
“The country’s stable development requires realistic and clear objectives, patience and consistence. Progress cannot be achieved immediately, it needs long-term civil peace… Politics is an art of the possible… offering people things that are beyond the possible is harmful as it creates false expectations that cannot be realized and will lead to disappointment and nihilism,” Ivanishvili added.
“We need to unite around a common cause regardless of our political past. This does not mean we should erase our memory or forgive past crimes, but we need to remember that “devil divides” and pushes us to discord… We should not return to the past; Georgia’s path is the path of rational policy, development and democracy, and irreversibility of this path depends on mobilization of the entire public. April 9 will always remind us of this,” he concluded.