Saakashvili."If you hate Armenians – I am an Armenian"

Georgia -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,  July 2012: Photo of the Day, Photo from the official website:
Georgia — Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, July 2012: Photo of the Day, Photo from the official website:

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gave an interview to Kanal PIK last week, speaking about a range of topics, including the Russia-Georgia 2008 war, Georgia’s reforms and answered to a personal question about his nationality.
The whole interview is worth watching (in Russian) as well as reading (click here for the English version). But I want to draw your attention to this particular section:

Journalist Mikheil Tavkhelidze: Last question is a little personal: are you Armenian?
President Mikheil Saakashvili: I always tell them that if you hate Azeris – I am Azeri. If you hate Armenians – I am an Armenian. If you hate Jews – I am the greatest Jew in the world. In any case, I will always remain the biggest patriot of Georgia. When people talk about ethnic patriotism, no one can resist the authority of David the Builder. I always say that David the Builder gave all the religions equal rights. He went to the mosque, to the synagogue, to this church and that church. He was the King of Georgia. What about this? The people who are more or less decent just get lost, because it was really like that. Georgia is a mixture of everything. That’s why we are a very perspective country. We are a small country, but we have united many cultures for centuries. There are traces of all these cultures here and I am very proud of it. I literally feel it all in me. My family comes from various parts of Georgia, both the East and the West. Eastern Georgia is more straightforward and harsh. Western Georgia is more inclined to compromise. So, there are 2 features in me – the Mingrelian one, which is more peaceful and calm, but there is something totally different on the other side. Everything is united in me, but life is more interesting like that. Different origins are fighting inside of me.

Saakashvili has directly denied being Armenian in the past. This time his answer is more vague. Still, kudo’s to him for such a diplomatic answer.
The question is, however, why do Georgians continuously speak about his Armenian origins and why does it matter so much?
The issue is very complex, but here are a couple of quick points, the way I see it.
In the recent years there seems to be growing anti-Armenian sentiment among Georgians, which is encouraged by some Georgian Church Clerics. There are at least 6 disputed churches in the territory of Georgia, which are claimed both by the Armenian and Georgian churches.
Georgian economy is increasingly benefiting from ties with Turkey and Azerbaijan, which are both in conflict with Armenia.
There is also the issue of Armenian populated Javakheti region in Georgia and some calls by nationalists both in Javakheti and Armenia to have more Armenian involvement in the area and give more powers to local self-governmto the region, which irritates some nationalistic forces in Georgia who don’t want to see a repetition of the situation with Abkhazia or South Ossetia.
At any rate, over the past years the word “Armenian” has even been used as an offense in Georgian parliament.
And there, again, the question asked to Saakashvili…
It seems both to be a way to offend him, as well as to turn the anti-Armenian sentiment against Saakashvili and exploit it in the dirty game of politics.
At any rate, this time Saakashvili didn’t deny it, which doesn’t really mean anything. Or does it?

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Georgian phenomena is outstanding. Saakashvili showed what political will is. Before him, Georgia was modern days Afghanistan.  
    You can’t say human rights are of Scandinavian level in Georgia, but you can confidently say the level of corruption is one of the lowest in the world.
    What does this give? Let’s cascade down what this gives:
    Investments-> new businesses-> jobs-> taxes-> social programs-> healthcare-> social protection-> high pensions-> re-election.
    So, in fact, one does not need to do anything extraordinary, simply lower the level of corruption, and your re-election is guaranteed. And in fact, corruption is the ONLY problem Armenia has. Think about it.
    As for this interview. The development of a whole nation takes centuries, I don’t believe Georgians are Europeans today (their immense wish to prove Saakashvili is Armenian shows how European they are today), but they have all ingredients to become Europeans. And since they are “champions of show off”, they are close to becoming Europeans very soon.
    And here comes the message to our President: Mr. President, today is the only time in history of independent Armenia when we don’t have political prisoners, we even have opposition in the parliament. With all this, 90% of your nation (including me) will not vote for you, they will not vote for your opponents as well. However, there is a real chance to change everything and remain in history. And I don’t call it a revolution. I simply call it “applying best regional practice”. See, I don’t say give your seat up to another candidate, I don’t say go away, I simply say – work. Just do your job, Mr. President.

  2. I don’t quite understand Gerogian politics, but it seems like Saakashvili has undertaken certain steps to retain his grips on power even after his presidency. Let’s see what happens after the upcoming elections…

  3. Georgians have made their choice!
    It may seem to some of them, that their lives are going to change for better, but they’re mistaken!
    Saakashvili took Georgia with all its corruption ad bribery blooming, and turned it into a beautiful country where you’re not afraid to park your car at night anymore without being fearful it might get stolen.
    Georgian people chose “Georgian Dream” forgetting those times (prior to Saakashvili) when there were power cuts and no water for weeks, in the cities. How can they say that Georgia is more poor now than it was before? Don’t you see how many cars are on the streets, how well Georgians live now? There’re no jobs? – It’s hard to create jobs when the economy was 0%. But Georgia has recently started producing its own products, and was heading that way to create more jobs. And, do not disregard constant tensions with Russia (including the 2008 war in Ossetia). Saakashvili had to address so many issues with Georgia – both Interior and Foreign, – which is not an easy job to do. Let’s see how many jobs there will Ivanishvili create!
    You’ve already had your dream, and you just lost it!
    Ivanishvili has already picked Ministers for his new Parliament, and who they are? – Former Ministers of Shevardnadze! Now if you turn your brains on, you may be able to see, what kind of “Dream” is awaiting you!
    Just because Ivanishvili is a billionaire, doesn’t mean he is not corrupt!
    How did he acquire so much money during the 90s? – Do you believe he was doing fair business deals? – Come on.
    Here’s my vision of Georgia with Ivanishvili and without Saakashvili:
    In the beginning, Ivanishvili will try to please both – West and Russia, then he’s going to fail! He may be a good businessman, but that doesn’t prove he can be a Prime-Minister and rule! Georgia will take the pro-Russian course, and Zhirinovsky’s dreams will come true!!! Russians will take over Georgia and bring their chaos to it! You want to imagine your future with Russia? – Don’t need to close your eyes to picture it. Just look at Russia today, and this is how Georgia is going to look like!
    Sad, but true!
    There’s a good old saying that I’ll apply here to those who voted for ivanishvili:
    “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”

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