Bakhtadze said in his farewell message that the Russian occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Regions and poverty remain as two key challenges for the country, and that any initiative or reform should be directed at overcoming those challenges.
Civil.ge offers some of the main takeaways from Mamuka Bakhtadze’s long resignation message below:
Setting strategic development frame
The ex-PM said that Georgia “lacks accents on strategic development,” and that the country lives in between elections. According to him, the programs that political parties offer to electorate are mainly short-term, often populistic and focused on specific election period.
Bakhtadze said his main mandate as prime minister has been to create and implement “a strategic frame” for the country’s stable development, which include the three main strategic directions:
- To define Georgia’s place and role in global world – full-fledged membership of European and Euro-Atlantic communities;
- New economic model of development (considering the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century);
- Education, as a national idea.
“Creation of this strategic development frame has been the reason for selecting me as the prime minister and our political team had the full consensus over this issue,” Bakhtadze said, adding that as the above strategic development frame has been implemented during his tenure already, he took a decision to quit as his “mission for now is complete.”
In his message ex-PM spoke of a number of issues that he considers have been accomplished or remain as a challenge:
Relations with the EU, U.S., NATO, neighboring countries
Bakhtadze said the EU-Georgia relations are on “highest historic level” and that the country’s international positions have never been so solid. Here Bakhtadze mentioned the EU Association Agreement, its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and the visa-liberalization with the EU/Schengen area, that according to him has already brought “direct and tangible results” to Georgian people.
Bakhtadze said, “before the EU will have the opportunity” to give Georgia “the official membership prospective,” Georgia should aim at sectoral integration with the EU. the European Economic Area (EEA). He added that Georgia’s integration into European Economic Area is the best mechanism to enter the EU.
Mamuka Bakhtadze also spoke of the bilateral ties with the U.S. He said the U.S. is Georgia’s “devoted friend and partner,” and that U.S.-Georgia relations reaches “record high level” under President Donald Trump. He also noted that Georgia has strong bipartisan support in congress, and that more U.S. investments are needed in Georgia.
Bakhtadze also called relations with NATO “unprecedented,” noting that as of today Georgia enjoys interoperability with NATO.
In his message Mamuka Bakhtadze spoke of Georgia’s relations with its southern neighbours as well. Bakhtadze said further works were done under his leadership to improve strategic ties with Turkey and Azerbaijan. He added that relations with Armenia are developing in all directions also.
Occupation and non-recognition policy
Bakhtadze said overcoming Russian occupation and pursuing non-recognition policy “has unprecedented support in international politics.” He noted that stopping humanitarian catastrophe in occupied territories represents the main task for the country, adding that “every person living on the occupied territories should feel that Georgia cares for them.”
Economy, business-environment, Georgia as a regional hub
“Georgia should become a regional hub for international business, innovations, education, tourism and logistics”, Bakhtadze said, noting that Georgia should be “Asia’s gate into Europe, while for Europe a bridge to Asia”. He also noted that only inclusive high economic growth will help reduce poverty in the country, which is mainly caused by extreme dependency on import. He added that the fouth industrial revolution requires “Georgia’s adequate geographical positioning”.
Education as the national idea
The ex-PM considers education as one of the main priorities for Georgia’s further development and that directing 6% of GDP into this direction will help education become dominant sector in the country’s economy.
2020 Parliamentary elections and political polarization
Bakhtadze noted that he welcomes Georgia’s moving to the fully proportional election system with the “zero” threshold for 2020, adding that this will give even a small group of citizens an opportunity to make their voices heard from parliament.
He said, the 2020 polls should be “a competition among the programs” instead of offense and hate speech. “Any step that supports polarization in the country and introduces a negative agenda, undermines the Georgian statehood, hinders its development and is only in the interests of its enemies,” he said.
At a meeting with some of the anchors of nation-wide broadcasters later on September 2, Mamuka Bakhtadze reiterated that he remains the member of the ruling party and but that he does not intend taking any political positions. He also said that consultations over the candidacy of the next Prime Minister continues and will become public tomorrow.
“I was and will remain the member of the Georgian Dream and a devoted soldier of our country”, Bakhtadze said. He thanked his predecessors and wished success to the future prime minister of the country. Bakhtadze also thanked the party chairperson Bidzina Ivanishvili and the the Georgian Dream members “for their support and trust.”