08TBILISI86, SAAKASHVILI’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS: HITTING THE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI86 2008-01-22 14:18 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7864
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0086/01 0221418
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221418Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8645
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000086 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM GG
SUBJECT: SAAKASHVILI'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS:  HITTING THE 
RIGHT NOTES 
 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  On January 20, President Saakashvili was 
sworn into his second term as President.  After a close 
presidential election, Saakashvili's inaugural speech was 
infused with the theme of reconciliation -- with the 
opposition, among the various ethnic groups in Georgia, and 
with Russia.  He made eliminating poverty the focus of his 
second term and pledged that the Government would work 
non-stop over the next 50 days to put in place a set of 
proposals which would guide this term.  Although his 
inauguration was relatively lightly attended, internationals 
and Georgians we spoke to thought the speech hit the perfect 
pitch.  The theme that resounded most among Georgians was the 
call on Georgians, despite their political views, religious 
faiths, or places of residence to unite and work together to 
build-up Georgia for future generations.  End summary. 
 
2. (SBU) On January 20, President Saakashvili gave his second 
inaugural address in front of the Parliament in downtown 
Tbilisi.  Reflecting Saakashvili's current unpopularity in 
the capital as well as the freezing cold temperatures, his 
inauguration was relatively lighted attended.  The opposition 
held a protest rally at the same time in another part of 
town.  Still, internationals and Georgians we spoke to 
thought the speech hit the perfect pitch.  The themes he 
stressed included: 
 
-- Reaching out to the opposition:  Saakashvili thanked the 
candidates who took part in the election and reached out to 
its leaders and its supporters, stressing that Georgia needs 
unity.  He said that both the ruling party and the opposition 
have the same goal -- an united and strong Georgia -- and 
thanked the opposition for bringing the competition of 
differing ideas.  He pledged to take steps to ensure more 
participation of the opposition in state institutions.  "We 
do not have Georgians to lose, regardless of their political 
views." 
 
-- Assessing how far Georgia has come to date:  Saakashvili 
noted that the chief achievement in his first term was the 
creation of a truly modern Georgian state out of the "chaos, 
hopelessness, and corruption" that had existed previously. 
He pointed to the painful reforms, including opening society, 
curbing corruption, fighting crime, improving electricity, 
attracting investment, creating jobs, but acknowledged there 
continues to be a long way to go before all Georgians benefit 
from these sweeping reforms. 
 
-- Setting new goals:  Saakashvili made eliminating poverty 
the focus of his second term to ensure that democracy and 
freedom prevail in the long run.  He set out as a goal 
ensuring that the positive effects of our reforms would be 
felt in all villages in Georgia.  He proposed a number of 
immediate steps including:  making cheap credit available, 
improving the social safety net, and improving villages 
through the provision of gas, roads, credits, doctors, and 
schools. 
 
-- Laying out a timetable:  Saakashvili pledged results in 50 
business days, after which time he would report on progress 
to the country.  He promised by the end of that 50 days to 
make cheap credit to be a reality, to unveil a plan to 
gradually raise pensions to 100 USD, and to have a 
functioning national commission on poverty eradication -- in 
which he expressed hope to see opposition representation.  He 
emphasized the importance of this work and his expectation 
that every staff member would work every single day to 
achieve this goal. 
 
-- Reaching out to Russia:  Saakashvili acknowledged the 
Georgian people's Euro-Atlantic orientation but emphasized 
that this is not targeted at any of Georgia's neighbors.  He 
emphasized the importance of borders serving as bridges and 
explicitly extended a hand of partnership to "our northern 
neighbor," noting that "we should be friends, we should be 
closer and we should stand together."  (Note:  Russian 
Foreign Minister Lavrov, who headed the Russian delegation to 
the inauguration, was seated in a prominent position 
immediately behind Saakashvili.  End note.) 
 
-- Resolving the conflicts:  Saakashvili pledged to "work day 
and night so that I leave a united and whole Georgia to the 
next president, with a peaceful Abkhazia and South Ossetia." 
He promised to work to allow the hundreds of thousands who 
had fled the conflict zones - as well as their children - to 
return to those areas so that they may regain their past and 
live their future in "dignity and peace."  He stressed that 
this goal is not to be done by one individual, or even one 
party, or even one government. 
 
 
TBILISI 00000086  002 OF 002 
 
 
3. (SBU) Comment:  Saakashvili's speech hit just the right 
notes to capture the mood of a divided country.  His focus on 
being more inclusive and doing more to eliminate poverty are 
two factors which hurt him in the election.  Most Georgians 
want better relations with Russia, making this theme a 
popular one as well.  His message on the separatist zones 
will have
had strong appeal with the Georgian people but not 
perhaps with the Abkhaz or Ossetes, who believe that their 
concerns and interests are not factored into Georgian policy 
to "re-take" the separatist zones.  This is the one 
oratorical area where Saakashvili perhaps could take a page 
out of his approach to Russia and offer a hand of friendship 
to start building some confidence between two sides that have 
radically disparate views of their futures.  End comment. 
 
 
 
 
 
-- 
TEFFT

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