Mikheil Saakashvili to Ukrainians: ‘You Have No Right Fail’

10 points from Georgia’s former president during his visit to LvBS at UCU

“I am honored to be at this university, which is so important for all of Ukraine. I am happy to have this opportunity to be here today. In August 2008, 20,000 Russian troops invaded my country. The purpose of the invasion was to stop successful Georgian reforms, punish the leadership that implemented them: to physically destroy them or put them in jail. But Russia failed: our nation consolidated and the Western world supported us,” Mikheil Saakashvili began his speech at the Ukrainian Catholic University.

The president, together with his team, created the “Georgian miracle.” He managed to increase the budget 11 times. Mikheil Saakashvili believes in Ukraine and believes that victory in the war with Russia is unconditional: “the guarantor of great change is not the president, the government, or the parliament, but the entire Ukrainian society as a body of collective wisdom and experience. You have no right to fail,” he said to the audience. Saakashvili regularly reads Facebook, and is glad that many Ukrainians follow him and ask him interesting questions.

LvBS has listed 10 of the most interesting points from the meeting with the former president of Georgia, which took place on August 8 in UCU, organized as part of the Samopomich Expert Club. The meeting brought together some 400 participants: representatives of business, government, public sector workers, teachers, and diplomats.

1. What is happening in Ukraine now will determine the future of Ukraine, the former Soviet Union, and all of Europe. If Ukraine survives (and it will survive), the Russian Empire will fall. These days, these months, one of the most interesting dramas not only of the twenty-first century but of the entire historical epoch is playing out.
Putin, when he attacked Ukraine, counted on a few things:
- That Ukraine is a small state: he believed in his own myth that there are 5-6 million Ukrainians, and that all the rest is an artificial area. He recently proposed to Austria and Poland to divide Ukraine.
- The ineffectiveness of sanctions.
- The fact that he will always be feared: he was feared by many Western leaders, entire nations. Ukrainians have shown that they do not fear him.

2. Ukraine’s best response to Putin was the song “La la la”

3. The Ukrainian society has great potential: you are hardworking, talented, self-organized, patient, flexible. You are doing a great deed – depriving the world of Russian imperialism, possibly the greatest gift to human civilization in the twenty-first century. Ukrainians will win, and all will say that the barbarians of the twenty-first century were stopped by the great Ukrainian nation.

4. Almost immediately Georgians feel at home in Ukraine: accusing this nation of being intolerant or fascist is blasphemy.

5. Ukraine is the perfect size for reform. In a small country reform is more difficult. For example, in Georgia, you have someone fired, but it turns out that your daughter goes to a kindergarten with his son; everyone knows everyone, all are connected. Most of my relatives don’t speak to me now.

6. Ukraine has wonderful young people, all generations have decent professional people who have to take control. Renewing the political class is only just beginning, people are ahead of it. Ukraine has a great social thirst for change and the guarantor of great change is not the president, the government, or the parliament, but the entire society as a body of collective wisdom and experience. I'm sure you can do it. You have no right to fail.

7. Now the war is actually led by the Ukrainian people, and this is its strength. This is what Putin will never understand. Ukraine has a great tradition of rule of law, which was built over the course of centuries: you know how to live according to the law, self-organized in a democracy. The maidan is part of Ukrainian political culture that is in your blood.

8. After Putin there will not be a quiet transfer of power in Russia. Russia will very quickly have to give up annexed territories: Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Crimea.

9. If the Ukrainian authorities had been able to implement rapid reforms in Crimea earlier, then the annexation would not have happened. The eastern regions remain relatively Soviet and Putin announced that he is the Soviet Union, and people were confused because they do not feel the benefits of Ukrainian statehood. Reform is a matter of national security. The results of reform live much longer than reformers. Despite the events currently taking place in Georgia, the country will not move back. The main thing we have achieved: Georgians saw a successful country, a budget that grew 11 times (while we cut taxes by 60%).

10. Education and investment in education are crucial for the transformation of society. In Ukrainian universities I am most amazed by the spirit of curiosity.