President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili delivered late on December 31 an unusual address on New Year 2022 to the nation from the Atoneli Street Presidential Palace in downtown Tbilisi.
Below is Civil Georgia’s translation of President Zurabishvili’s New Year message:
“What can I tell you, how can I gladden you? What should we congratulate ourselves about?” – wondered Ilia* some 124 years ago and I also would like to ask the same question today. Instead of a traditional New Year congratulation, I would like you to hear not my voice, but that of our children:
– “I am Mari, 9 years old. I have two brothers. We are socially vulnerable. I have never asked for anything. I want a [Christmas] tree. It would be great, if you can afford it [for me] and make me happy. If you don’t, I’d be grateful about whatever you could gladden me with – village Dirbi;”
– “Hello, I am Vako Elbakidze, 7. I have a younger sister, we are internally displaced people, and we are socially vulnerable. I would like to ask the kind people to make our wishes come true. We hope in you and we are waiting for you. I believe you would fulfill my wish — the town of Gori;”
– “I am Nini, I am turning 5, on March 5. I am an internally displaced person. I would like snowman to bring me a kitchen. I waited for it last year too, but he did not bring it – the town of Gori.”
– “I don’t know whether you could afford to make us too happy, but I still do hope anyway. I am Ako, 11 years old. I have got 4-year-old brother and year-and-half-old sister Nanka, we are socially vulnerable, living near the line of occupation. We’d be happy with whatever you could afford for us. My brother especially would be happy to see you. We are looking forward to seeing you with a great joy” — village Dirbi;
– “I am Ana, 11 years old. I am socially vulnerable. I want snowman to make me happy and bring me a tablet computer. My mother can’t afford it. I have both brother and sister. My brother has leukemia and we find ourselves in difficulty, as his treatment costs much” – village Kitsnisi;
– “I am Datuna, 8 years old. I am socially vulnerable. I want you to bring me a telephone, if you could, because my computer got damaged and I cannot attend my online classes. I also want to study like my peers” – village Kveshi.
We have fulfilled their wishes for the New Year, but we could not fulfill those for many others, and we would not be able to for many more for a long time.
Like Ilia would say, the country stands before a big ditch, and a hit with a hand would be enough to get us fallen off. But Ilia’s concerns were about ignorance, the lack of work, the loss of goal, while our concerns today are worse: we have lost ourselves, we are dragging each other towards that ditch. We need no adversary to hit us, we are ourselves doing their job of pushing each other… Boundless envy and resentment, hate and confrontation, short-term goals and short-sighted vision, while having long-term and groundless ambitions…
All of my efforts these days — that I will continue in the coming year and throughout my tenure, since I am in this position only for this reason — will be aimed to facilitate finding ways to each other, to help us manage save this country through listening and talking to each other, and [through avoiding] discord.
And it is my task to find the path to the national accord for tomorrow; not for freeing someone as some spread rumors (meaning the case of jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili – editor’s note), not for helping some reconcile with some others.
This is done for us to be able to basically listen to each other, to agree on things that will help build this country, not just saving this country, but allowing us to fulfill wishes of Ana and others, so that we will not have to say in the coming years — “How can I gladden you?!”
I wish you a Happy New Year. And I wish for the sake of this country that we fulfill this great wish already this year: that we will manage to listen to one another, share each other’s opinions. I am hopeful that these past days we could prove that everyone can come to this [Presidential] Palace, to sit down in this Palace and talk to each other.
Congratulations on this day!”