IBNA Special Report/Former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, shares his governing experience with Albanian students and professors and explains his stand on Putin and Ukraine. During a day of meetings with the academic world of Tirana, former president of Georgia has expressed his criticism against the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, by considering him as a “Milosevic with an atomic bomb”. According to Mr. Saakashvili, the West is too slow in its reaction.
Tirana, September 4, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
“There must be rapid reforms”
Mikheil Saakashvili believes that if a leader wants to do something and be remembered, he must be courageous and carry out reforms needed to move the country forward. He must do this quickly, even if these reforms make him unpopular.
Former president of Georgia, known for the reforms that he carried out in his country and especially about the drastic changes in the state apparatus which turned Georgia from one of the most corrupt countries in the world to one of the countries with less corruption in the world, was present in a meeting with students and professors of the European University of Tirana (photo).
Saakashvili, who is today a lecturer in Tufts University in the USA, has explained his governing experience and the reasons for his decisions and reforms. He said that in spite of the electoral costs, he did what had to be done.
“Reforms must be carried out as quickly as possible, because there’s no time to go back. As a result of the reforms, everything in Georgia changed in a drastic way, including infrastructure and education”, said the former Georgian president.
He emphasized a more liberal taxation policy, by saying that the country should have not increased taxes, but manage them, as our country, according to him, cannot collect the taxes that it should collect.
Talking about the policies that he undertook, Saakashvili talked about a radical reformation of police and the establishment of order in the country. He said that after the discharge of the majority of police forces in three days, Georgia remained without any police officers and after this reform, the country became one of the safest countries in Europe. According to him, this helped in the fight against corruption.
Saakashvili said that in order to reform the country and reduce corruption, the changes that were made were drastic. He mentioned the replacement of 80% of the administration with young people in their 30s and also the changes in services by making them quicker. “In order to carry out drastic reforms, people full of energies and a little crazy are needed. Young people are both energetic and crazy”, said the former president.
An analysis for the Albanian reforms
Saakashvili also talked about the reforms carried out by the government in Albania. He said that he saw passion in the prime minister and opportunity to reform the country. The former president said that one of the reforms that he had carried out was similar to the reform in universities in Albania. Saakashvili said that the education system is as important as police and taxation administration.
“The most corrupted system in Georgia was not police and taxation administration, but the education system. We did there what your government did here, by revoking licenses for many universities due to corruption. We also introduced a national exam in order to make the difference between degrees that had a value and those received thanks to corruption”, said Saakashvili.
Saakashvili said that countries like Albania need good education systems and that there must be a transformation of mentality.
He also mentioned other incentives that the government that he led, carried out during the time when he was president. One of them, which was considered as courageous, was the invitation addressed to 10 thousand American teachers to teach the English language to young Georgians.
Relations between the West and Russian president, Vladimir Putin
A while ago, Georgia was attacked by Russia during Saakashvili’s term in office. Recalling this fact, he compared the Moscow leader with Miloshevic, saying that Europe and the West are delaying their reaction the same way as they did with Milosevic.
Nevertheless, Saakashvili said that he’s sure that the international community will react and solve the situation. “Something is clear, the Russian economy is surviving thanks to the money of the West”, said Saakashvili, implying that Russia had fewer chances than Nazi Germany in a big war or in confronting the west.
Mr. Saakashvili was ironic with Putin by saying that he was buying weapons to attack the West with the money that he received from the west from the sale of gas.
“They do not react, are slow, wait and waste time. It’s the typical reaction of democracies, because they face elections, they do not want to spend money and they do not want to cause problems. This makes dictators believe that they can do whatever they want, but then, there comes a moment when democracies decide to react, because the danger is high. I hope that this happens as soon as possible in the case of Ukraine, because on the contrary, the losses will be great, as they were in the case when intervention was needed against Milosevic. But, I think that this is an irreversible process now”, said Saakashvili, thus predicting Putin’s loss in this confrontation with the West.
Why was Kosovo not recognized
In a debate with Albanian students and professors, Saakashvili explained why Albania didn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent state. The former president said that the threat from Russia was in a way the reason why he and his country hadn’t recognized Kosovo. On the other hand, he said that he respected “the war of Albanians for freedom”.
In power following a revolution
The former president of Georgia, MIkheil Saakashvili came in power after a peaceful revolution in 2004. He reformed his country, while the best reform for which he’s remembered, is the one with the police in the country, where he discharged 80% of police officers. From 15 thousand, the force was left with 2300 officers. The reduction in the force drastically changed the situation with police in the country. There was a significant improvement of police logistics and also an increase of salaries, which made bribery insignificant. The laws were also tough. A police officer who received 50 USD in bribery, risked 10 years in prison. This was the most successful reform of Saakashvili. Foreign monitors admitted a drastic reduction of the level of corruption in the country (from the 124th place to the 64th place in a world ranking). Of course, there was also improvement in the fight against criminality. After this, the public had more confidence on the police (81% trusted police), than the government that reformed it (64% believed on the government). /ibna/