President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili made her New Year address to the nation. Below is the official translation of President Zurabishvili’s message as provided by her office:
“We say goodbye to 2020. This year turned out to be the hardest year for the world, for our country, for our population. I would like to express my condolences to everyone who has lost a family member, relative or friend during this tough period.
The pandemic has changed the world – it shook the economy, it closed our borders. It changed us as well – it instilled fear in us. Along with its negative aspects, the pandemic has shown us that survival can only be achieved through solidarity, mutual trust and care.
Professionalism and responsibility are the only way to defeat the disease. The main thing is not to give in to despair, because everything bad is followed by good. First of all, this concerns the field of healthcare. Its representatives – epidemiologists, doctors, nurses, ambulance workers – stood on the front lines, directly suffering all the blows and losses. The number of victims among them is big as well.
However, at the same time, we have discovered that we have world-class professionals, and our health care system has withstood what countries stronger than us have not been able to endure.
We have not been expecting this and we were surprised. It earned us the world’s high esteem, which led to large-scale international financial support.
In the process of managing the pandemic, a great burden and responsibility was placed on our police and defense forces. Here as well, we can be proud of how dedicated and effective they have been in coping with these difficult and unusual situations.
World quarantine has caused a severe blow to our economy, particularly to the tourism sector. However, the popularization of domestic tourism has allowed many families to rediscover Georgia. In many people, a desire to return to the countryside has emerged. With this, we – all together – managed to help one of the most severely affected areas of our economy.
In the field of education, on the one hand, distance learning and a depressing loss of social contact proved to be difficult for young people. However the academic year was not declared and the Unified National Examinations were conducted smoothly. In spite of everything, in this field, as well, we were able to do what would be difficult to imagine even for much stronger countries than us – the Kutaisi International University opened its doors.
Culture has been severely affected by the pandemic. Despite remote formats, this field has been practically frozen, as culture can hardly to survive without the public. Considering this background, I am very proud of the fact that we have perfectly conducted the national competitions of the National and Vazha-Pshavela Prizes. We gathered commissions, received world-class scientific papers and literary works, and announced the winners.
Due to the pandemic the award ceremony could not yet take place, but on this New Year’s Eve, I want to introduce the laureates and congratulate them together on this great success that makes our country proud. The Vazha Pshavela State Prize in Literature and Poetry was awarded to poet and translator David Tserediani. I am sorry that he did not receive this important recognition during his life. The winners of the National Prize for joint work in the field of chemistry and biology are Giorgi Kvesitadze, Gia Khatisashvili and Tinatin Sadunishvili. In the field of physics – Alexander Shengelia.
The only area the pandemic could not slow down is politics! We had a difficult political year but here too, we managed to adopt constitutional changes and a new election code. We held elections, which the international community evaluated as fair and competitive. We have a Parliament.
The pandemic could not change at least one thing – the occupation and our pain. Today, the people who live in our occupied territories are even more burdened after an already extremely difficult situation, but this showed how necessary the promotion of solidarity and of finding common ways, ways to overcome the occupation are. Yet the main achievement is that despite the difficult conditions, despite the occupation and severe regional conflicts, this small country has been able to maintain stability, resilience, is self-reliant and has repeatedly shown to others that it does not give up so easily.
Probably a difficult winter is ahead of us and the challenges will not be over. But we already know that we will persevere on this road. We also know what we need on this path – mutual trust, attention, solidarity and unity! We must overcome alienation. We must reject hatred and confrontation. 2021 must be a year of trust.
I wish everyone, whether inside or outside the country, a happy new year, good health, courage, success and unity!”