|Georgian premier eyes more co-operation with Egypt|
|November 15, 2011|
By Salwa Samir
Tbilisi -Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri said that if the Islamists win in the Egyptian parliamentary elections due late this month, this is an internal issue for Egyptians, as long as the elections are free and just, reflecting the will of the majority.
He praised the Egyptian revolution and said that it has many similarities with the Georgian revolution, which erupted in 2003, stressing that the most important thing is that the purpose of both revolutions is to fight corruption.
"Our revolution is concerned with fighting corruption, boosting the economy, decreasing debt, improving transparency and attracting more investments.
“We are doing our best to help Egypt do the same, when it selects its new Government with a clear objective," he told a group of Egyptian journalists Sunday, visiting Georgia to learn more about its Revolution of the Rose.
The Revolution of the Rose saw a change of power in Georgia in November 2003, a month after widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections.
As a result, President Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to resign on November 23, 2003, after he had attempted to open a new session of parliament. This session was considered illegitimate by the major opposition parties.
Supporters of two of these parties, led by Saakashvili, the current President, burst into the session with roses in their hands (hence the name Revolution of the Rose), interrupting a speech by Shevardnadze and forcing him to escape with his bodyguards.
He later declared a state of emergency and began to mobilise troops and police near his residence in Tbilisi. A few days later, he resigned.
Gilauri said that Georgia suffered from corruption in the police sector.
"So, we fired 18,000 policemen, most of them traffic police. We hired ordinary people to do their jobs. Now, there is trust and the relations between the citizens and policemen are good. There is no corruption; if they take bribes, they go to prison," he added.
The Premier pointed out that his country faced labour protests like Egypt’s.
“People thought that, after the revolution, they would be millionaires. We explained to them that what we have done was tough and the reforms will take some time. We must promise things that are believable and society must be involved in our reforms," he stressed.
Gilauri said that, in 2007, Georgia's real GDP growth rate hit 12 per cent, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in Eastern Europe.
The World Bank dubbed Georgia "the number one economic reformer in the world" because, in one year, it leaped from 11th to 18th in terms of ease of doing business in world countries.
In 2001, 54 per cent of the population lived below the national poverty line, but by 2006 poverty had decreased to 34 per cent. In 2005, the average monthly income per household was about $200. The IMF’s 2007 estimates place Georgia's nominal GDP at $10.3 billion.
The country’s economy is becoming more devoted to services (now representing 65 per cent of GDP), moving away from the agricultural sector (10.9 per cent).
The Premier added that his Government has slashed taxes and is fighting bureaucracy and encouraging the private sector, which is playing an important role in the State’s recovery.
Gilauri said that there will be more co-operation between his country and Egypt.
"We will boost our relations with Egypt, especially in the economic fields, so that Egypt can be a gate for Georgia to Africa and Georgia a gate for Egypt to Eastern Europe and Western Asia," he stressed.
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