Prime Minister’s view on country’s economy, Russia relations and situation in Abkahzia

Garibashvili is confident Georgia’s progress will be appropriately recognized at the NATO Summit in Wales., 04 Jun 2014 - 18:06, Tbilisi,Georgia

PM reflects cautiously on situation of breakaway Abkhazia

The recent developments in Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia is nothing more than ordinary staffing changes, said Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili when asked to comment on the resignation of Abkhazia’s de-facto President Alexander Ankvab.

At a special media conference today, the Georgian leader was careful in his response, when asked whether Russia was involved in the resignation of Ankvab.

 "Currently there is no need to stir the situation and cause unnecessary strain in society. It is an ordinary staffing change.”

Changes in the Abkkhaz government caused some speculate unnecessarily about possible problems resulting from the change in leadership for ethnic Georgians who lived in Abkhazia, Garibashvili said.

"[We] are observing the developments in Abkhazia and later it would be appropriate to make a more detailed analysis [of the situation],” he said.

A journalist from Georgian Public Broadcaster reminded PM Garibashvili of the President of Georgia’s opinion, which was the situation in Abkhazia was "open interference of Russia in Abkhazia’s issues”.

Garibashvili said authorities must wait for this fact to be proved before making "hasty” comments.

According to Russia media, one of the issues causing conflict between current authorities and the opposition surrounded the issuance of Abkhazian passports to residents of eastern border districts, including the Gali district, which is heavily populated by ethnic Georgians. The issue was slammed by opposition groups as threat to Abkhaz sovereignty.

Abkhazia’s de-facto President resigned on Sunday after less than a week of unrest where demonstrators stormed the Presidential administration building and the Kremlin sent high-level representatives from Moscow in a bid to calm the situation.

Abkhazia is heavily supported by Russia.

Russia-Georgia relations

The state of Georgia’s relationship with Russia was a topic of much enthusiasm for journalists at today’s media conference. The Prime Minister responded with ease and said he saw a "positive dynamic” in terms of reestablishing ties with Russia.

"The current Government managed to deescalate tensions with Russia while the ex-government had a radical approach towards Russia which had a disastrous effect,” he said.

  Georgian PM's meeting with media representatives lasted for more than three hours at Expo Georgia’s conference hall in Tbilisi on June 4; Photo by Georgian PM”s press office.

Garibashvili believed the Government had managed to improve relations between Georgian and Russian people as well as in cultural and economic relations. He said the aim of establishing a "constructive relationship with Russia” had been achieved through hard work of his administration.

"The real result of positive relations is that Russia’s government has announced they have no plans to pressure Georgia as the country prepares to sign the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU),” Garibashvili said.

When asked if a meeting between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin was planned, Garibashvili diverted slightly and said serious advanced preparation was needed before such a meeting took place.

"We are ready to conduct direct dialogue with Russia but when and in which format – only time will show,” he added.

Granting a NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia

Garibashvili is confident Georgia’s progress will be appropriately recognized at the NATO Summit in Wales.

How exactly this would be done, Garibashvili could not say, but he said it would be wrong to create false expectations and speculate on what the outcome of the September Summit might be.

This comment was in response to a question about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks stating granting Georgia with a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) would not be on the agenda at the upcoming NATO Summit.

At a meeting with Garibashvili in Berlin on Monday, Merkel also said offering Georgia a MAP was not the only way NATO could recognize Georgia’s efforts and progress.

Garibashvili said: "I believe Georgia’s progress will be recognized adequately. No one argues this and all members of NATO can confirm it, including madam Chancellor as well.

"And what will be the final result, we should wait for it [and we will only know] when the NATO Summit is held. There is no need to over-dramatize it now.”

He blamed the ex-government of creating false expectations among Georgian citizens that Georgia was guaranteed to receive a MAP at the 2008 NATO Summit. He said this was "a huge mistake”.

"But eventually Georgia was left disappointed as no MAP was offered at the 2008 Summit. It was also the result of their unrealized policy,” he said.

Garibashvili said the current Government had completely changed that approach. "We prefer to wait and in the meantime to carry out active foreign policy and the outcome will become known later.”

Immediately after this comment, a journalist challenged the Prime Minister and recited earlier comments by himself and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili for claiming Georgia would gain a MAP at the Wales Summit.

Garibashvili reinforced his position and said it was clear the Government were waiting for the results of the Summit and would not speculate on what the outcome might be.

Garibashvili discusses Georgia’s economic achievements

Georgia’s economic achievements were the focal point of Garibashvili’s opening remarks at today’s press conference.

The Georgian leader believed the economic growth of the country would reach 5 percent growth this year and the Government expected a 6.3 percent growth.

He said exports from Georgia had increased significantly in the past two years and mentioned the country saw a substantial boost last year when the country witnessed a 19 percent growth in exports in 2013 compared to 2012.

"The economy’s real recovery began in the fourth quarter of 2013. As the data revealed, the economy grew 9.1 percent during that period, which continued in the next period,” Garibashvili said.

He also underlined that with the support of his Government, more than 70 new enterprises had established since 2012. The opening of 100 new factories before 2016 was among the major election promises of Garibashvili’s Government.

When speaking about the pre-election promises his Government made in 2012, Garibashvili said pensions, social allowances and allowances for internally displaced persons had increased. This was one of his targets.

"All the promises that we gave to people ahead of parliamentary elections will be fulfilled within the four year period,” he said.

"What we have done in the past 18 months is really exceptional. Could you tell me any of our promises that we have not fulfilled,” Garibashvili asked the audience.

He also highlighted that the country did not see a budget shortfall, as predicted, and said his political opponents had not bothered to find out if there were shortfalls or not.

"There was a lot of speculation regarding budget shortfalls. Eventually, we worked to continue stable development of the country,” he added.