It is a customary rule that ministers are presented by Prime Minister.
But I made a special exception for Mrs. Salomé, for I believe it is truly a
historical event in the course of Georgia's Foreign policy.
Our decision to appoint Mrs. Salomé as a Minister of Foreign Affairs was not
made just in a day.
The country had to pass through some stages of development leading up to this
Mrs. Salomé personifies that part of our country, which became practically lost
to Georgia during the Bolshevik occupation.
Within the last twelve years, Georgia came to be ruled by the generation to whom
the Georgian emigration was identified with an enemy !
President Mikheil Saakashivili (MFA
In 1996 I addressed President Shevardnadze with a request to consider the issue
of employing Mrs. Salomé's services in the Georgian diplomatic service, but my
suggestion was then received with a decidedly cool reaction and dismissive
I realized then that in principle this government with its mentality was only a
successor of the old one.
Acting Foreign Minister with President Saakashvili
It is vastly important to me that this decision was reached after my
conversation with President Chirac!
Of equal importance is also the fact that Mrs.Salomé not only represents the
French diplomacy generally, but she is well-sensitized with the major trend of
Georgia's Foreign policy as well. It is the integration into Europe. She is
well-sensitized with another major trend: close and friendly cooperation with
Russia, and is insightful of the problems of our relations with the US. She like me studied at the Colombia University in New York and at the embassy in
I would like to extend my cordial thanks to the preceding foreign ministers of
Georgia, in particular, Mr. Irakli Menagarishvili, who headed the Ministry in
the course of many years. I think he did a vast amount of work towards the
formation of the Georgian diplomatic corpse.
I would like also to thank Mr.Tedo Japaridze. As early as in 1992, Mr.Tedo
performed a very important part in pushing forward the first strides of Georgian
diplomacy. Later, he played a unique role in the rapprochement of Georgia and
America and was highly responsible with his work as the Minister of Foreign
Affairs in the last days of his tenure as well.
The Ministry has to be transformed into a much more flexible structure, the
mechanism of rotation has to get worked actually and the wages are to be
increased. Despite my stating that there are truly many professionals at the
Ministry, I can also derive my judgements from the documents, which are placed
on my table for official meetings. These documents cannot stand any kind of
criticism! In most cases they are drawn up for the sake of formality.
I remember when I was on my first visit in Davos, not yet in the capacity of the
President of Georgia, I was handed several documents, which ran one and the same:
"We want good and friendly relations with Russia".
This is how the meetings are prepared.
But what I am actually interested in is the concrete problems persisting in the
field of oil and telecommunications.
I do not need ready-made phrases to speak out!
I assure you I am second to none in expressing myself !
I need concrete themes, a concrete list of trends and priorities. There has to be a farewell to kinder gardens in Foreign policy...
To be frank, the professionals at the ministry did not always receive proper
appreciation. These professionals have to be given a bigger scope to express
It is first of all the integration of Georgia into the European Union and other
We were recently in Bratislava and I want to assure that no other country has
ever received so much attention as Georgia did that day.
A key issue on the agenda is a generally expressed interest in the South
Caucasus. What we managed to derive from the revolution is that the South
Caucasus is involved in the wide Europe friendship initiative, the European
Union expansion plan, but at the same time, our principal task is to move the
issue of Georgia to the said agenda.
And today the issue of Georgia is placed high on the European Union's agenda!
It means that if we succeed to solve this issue in the course of 6-7 years,
Georgia will become an ordinary normal and developed European state!
First of all, we have to achieve our internal stability, to adjust all
disputable issues within the country, at least to outline the contours and to
develop the economy!
We no longer collect taxes on paper, as the preceding government did; we exact
money, cash everywhere. Then this cash is invested into pensions and salaries, which may allow from the
next month a seven- and sometimes an eight-fold increase in salaries of not only
ministers but public officials as well.
Today the US is assisting Georgia in the formation of security bodies and armed
The US assistance also goes towards the reforming of power sector and the
settlement of other important issues!
President Bush referred to me as his personal friend and it is a great privilege
for me, but in difference from my predecessors, I am not in the habit of seeking
personal friends in politics. It is Georgia's friends I look for everywhere!
Presently, Georgia has a huge number of friends!
We enjoy warm and very favorable relations with the President of Russia!
I consider him to be a leader of vast talent and a politician of the widest
The developments having unfolded in Ajaria put our relations under the first
I want to stress that Russia's restrained position was what, to a large extent,
conditioned the backtracking of the local defiant functionary and his
recognizing that the whole territory of Georgia must fall within the control of
the Georgian central authorities!
It was a dispute over whether the single democratic political system and joint
state bodies would be retained in Georgia.In this situation, Russia's reasonable and moderate attitude sends an important
signal of the emergence of the possibility to create a thoroughly new pattern of
The problem of the previous authorities was the failure by the Georgian side to
comply with any of the agreements!
It is important to insure that all undertaken obligations are fulfilled by
Georgia. But at the same time we expect of the Russian side to work up a new
policy and a new approach towards the Georgian side!
Russia is our huge partner; Russia is our major market, without which the
development of Georgian economy will be hardly conceivable!
The failure by any government of Georgia to get the benefit of it will be deemed
as a crime!
These are the relations with Turkey!
The situation in Ajaria assured us clearly of the truthfulness of Turkey's
The Turkish government stated on that same day that in any circumstances it
would stand on the side of the Georgian central authorities!
The local region will develop all its relations exclusively through Tbilisi and
by the permission of the Georgian central authorities.
Turkey declared that whatever step we might take in Ajaria, it will be accepted
with understanding by Turkey!
This is a true friendship and true support!
There is a voluminous capital in turkey, which has to be invested into the small
and middle-sized Georgian business!
Turkey is assisting us in the formation of security services!
The Kojori Battalion is the best special-purpose detachment I have seen in
Georgia and it is entirely equipped and trained by the Turkish side, just like
the special brigade of the Georgian internal forces!
Of similar degree are our relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan!
I am happy indeed with the contacts I am enjoying with the presidents of these
We are a single region. There can be no talk of Europe unless the South Caucasus
comes to be a whole!
We need common tariffs, common legislative space; we need to insure that
Armenia-registered enterprise is considered to be automatically registered in
Georgia as well and vice versa!
The whole economic area has to operate freely in order to establish links
between investments and to insure that money invested in Georgia is invested in
Armenia and Azerbaijan and vice versa!
There has to be a free movement of people!
There has to be a free movement of cargo!
Of great importance are our bilateral relations with European countries! It is
principal for us to manage to create the texture of our future relations!
We used to hold meetings and talks, exchange pleasantries, reach agreements and
then follow in the same course!
That is why a chain of my visits was introductory and bore an intensive
Next year will see only 4-5 official visits and the realization of the visit
Every special flight costs about 80 thousand dollars but the payback is also
huge: from Berlin we received 12 million Euro. The visit to America cost 150
thousand dollars but we hope to obtain 170-200 million dollars' worth of aid in
What the people want to see is less the applause Saakashvili may be receiving on
the international arena, than the increase in pensions, the creation of new
job-places and the emergence of new business!
This is what the Georgian people truly wish to witness!
The fairy tales on how the oil pipeline may pour upon us riches come to no one's
Oil pipeline is of paramount importance and comes with certain interests in
Georgia free from corruptive environment. The fact that oil pipeline crosses the
country means nothing.
This project is to be completed and I will exert every effort with that end in
I know there will be numerous obstacles, but we will do our utmost to finalize
At the same time, it is obvious that a hungry child cannot be "fed" by oil.
The aforesaid depends upon the successful functioning of the state.
We are in a very complicated geopolitical situation. Georgia is a small country
with very hard legacy. We are to endure and overcome these difficulties.
Given these circumstances we need to establish close relations with all
neighbors, all friends and all our partners.
Georgia begins to play intensive role in the international arena. The vivid
example of this is that in every country I have visited recently Georgia was the
key issue of all discussions.
With a view to attracting tourists to Georgia the tourist routes of the country
should come with the sphere of interests of at least one third of the World
It is important for us to create this infrastructure, to maintain stability, to
attract investments; each embassy should know that it does not represent a
separate feudal group of cronies, but it is a defender of Georgia's interests.
Each Embassy is to inform how many tourists it can bring; how many tourists can
be brought, for instance, to Svaneti, Ajara; how many people can be interested
in development of natural and mineral resources.
If we fail to implement these tasks, this process will be generally assessed
negatively, since I am not interested just in accumulation of papers. I must
know how many businessmen will come to Georgia and what amount of money they are
intended to invest.
I would like to cite an example: a group of American investments met our
ministers. The ministers talking to each other crowded in one corner.
Fortunately, my assistant Nato Kancheli, who attended that meeting, talked to
the investments and as a result of this conversation we obtained guarantees for
investments in amount of 15-20 millions; several millions have been already
The ministers, who were standing in the corner, will not remain at their posts
for a long time, if they do not reform the methods of the work. The diplomats
who are not working relevantly will not be able to stay in the diplomatic
service of Georgia.
Therefore I want everybody to take into consideration that absolutely new era
begins in the history of the Georgian diplomacy.
We are pressed for time.
The "window" of chance is open now and we are to take advantage of it, since it
may be closed so, that we can squeeze our hands, feet and even our heads.
This process requires everyday work.
Georgia in order to maintain its position must obtain asymmetrical trade levers.
The next stage envisages the conclusion of such agreements with the partners,
which provide us with opportunity to receive economic aid and to carry out
There existed a lot of gossips and conjectures in view of this issue. For
instance, does it mean that we will keep away from Russia, since foreign
activity will be entirely European-oriented?
I would like to declare that Mrs. Salomé Zurabishvili is the Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Georgia. She is a representative of one of the most patriotic and one
of the most distinguished Georgian families. Appointment of Mrs. Zurabishvili to
the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the fulfillment of a true
Her policy is the policy directed towards the future of Georgia.
I am proud that our country has the minister of such a high qualification - she
is a real international star.
I am proud that we are the country that is developing towards progress; we are
the country that is acquiring prospects for development.
This is all that I wanted to tell you today. Being here in the Ministry is a
great honor for me.
I am intended to change the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
Ministry is worthy of having the better premises, since it is the image of
Georgia. The best staff works here and these people deserve to have the best
It is our task to make Georgia's image majestic and as ever before Georgia to
It is my honor to present Mrs. Salomé Zurabishbili as the Minister.
I would like to greet the representatives of Foreign diplomatic corps and
express my gratitude for their immediate responding to my request and coming
here. We realize that maintenance of friendly relations with all countries is
very important for us.
So, Mrs. Salomé, everything depends upon you, your
skills, your courage and your exceptional decisions.
Thank you for attention.