The Prime Minister named Russian occupation of two Georgian regions as one of the main challenges for the country, noting that the fact that “20% of Georgian territories are occupied is an extremely important restriction, 20% restriction of the development of human capital as well as further development of our country’s potential.” Gakharia also noted that Georgian citizens meet resistance on the line of Russian occupation annually and that it is important to remember it.
“Fortunately, the Georgian doctor’s release [from Tskhinvali custody] ended peacefully, but we should not forget that our citizens meet these restrictions on the both sides of the occupation line and unfortunately, freedom of movement of Akhalgori residents is fully restricted and that is the gravest humanitarian situation,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said that the Georgian population’s and government’s response to Russian occupation is that over 70% of citizens unanimously support the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration and no matter how long it may take, each and every citizen of Georgia “will consistently continue” following this path.
“Therefore, the key priority of our government is to achieve full membership to Euro-Atlantic institutions with [preserving] Georgian traditions, Georgian cultural identity,” Gakharia said, adding that Georgia’s Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe “should be used fully” to acquaint European partners with Georgia’s democratic achievements and “show daily progress achieved by Georgian citizens and Georgian society.”
The Prime Minister also explained that “the year of 2019 was extremely important in terms of NATO-Georgia partnership” and that “it was an extremely [abundant] year with joint exercises number of which was unprecedented.”
“A new dimension appeared in the NATO-Georgia cooperation in 2019 – Black Sea security, which enables Georgia to be NATO partner in one more aspect. It is our mission to be guarantors of security in the Black Sea, along with our international partners,” Gakharia said, adding that “we have never had such deep and comprehensive partnership with our strategic partner, the United States, as we have today.”
Speaking about economy, the Prime Minister noted that creation of new jobs is the government’s key priority. He also said that Georgian business is the government’s main partner. “We have intensified our relations, cooperation with business, resolved many persisting problems, but there still are a lot of systemic challenges and we should respond to them jointly,” Gakharia said.
The Prime Minister welcomed the economic growth figures over the past 10 months (over 5%), saying that the government is also optimistic about final figures. Gakharia also said that the country had good results in the third quarter in terms of foreign direct investments and growth of number of tourists.
In the context of promoting economic growth, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of accelerating the state-own property privatization and “systemic registration” of lands, as well as the necessity of modernization of “Produce in Georgia” program.
Giorgi Gakharia said that creation of a strong, modern education system is the key instrument for sustainable and long-term development of successes achieved in political and economic life. He noted that “systemic education reform will continue and [it will] be the government’s priority during 2020.”
“If we do not create a strong, modern education system, our young people, our children will not become competitive amidst global competition. Therefore, systemic education reform will continue and be the priority for the Georgian government during 2020, especially in terms of secondary and vocational education,” Gakharia said.
Human rights and law enforcement system
Gakharia named human rights protection as one more priority for 2020, saying that “the work of the inter-agency council and secretariat for human rights will intensify its work” in this respect.
“It is extremely important to continue further reforms in the law enforcement system. The reforms launched in the system are extremely important for the protection of human rights and increasing the quality of investigation, in terms of both democratization of the country and combating criminal,” the Prime Minister said.
Gakharia also focused on social needs, saying that “the 2020 state budget will be oriented to citizens and those strata of the society, which especially need assistance.”
Georgian PM noted that the 2020 state budget will be oriented to Georgian citizens. Pensions will increase by GEL 20 for all pensioners, as well as people with disabilities belonging to I and II groups; moreover, pensioners above 70 will receive additional GEL 30 and monthly pensions of people living in mountains, who have already turned 70, will amount to GEL 300 [approximately USD 100].