Mikheil Saakashvili, President
Mikheil Saakashvili, President

Mikheil Saakashvili, the democratically elected President of Georgia since January 2004, is leading the country’s development of a thriving modern economy. A graduate of New York’s Columbia University Law School, fluent in four languages, and a strong proponent of free market democracies, President Saakashvili is considered to be one of the most effective leaders in the former Soviet region.

From the beginning of his government service in 1995 when he was elected to Georgia’s Parliament, Mikheil Saakashvili has been known as a fighter for judicial reforms and economic liberalisation. He launched a committed effort to eliminate corruption and has introduced measures that have brought foreign investment and growth to Georgia.

The President proved his commitment to democracy in 2007 when, following street protests related to perceived inequalities in the evolving economy, he called for elections which resulted in his winning a new five year term in January 2008. In May 2010, voters in Tbilisi overwhelmingly endorsed President Saakashvili’s ruling party in municipal elections.

Proactive approach

In May this year, President Mikheil Saakashvili commented that changing an economy does not happen overnight but that Georgia has already made significant progress. He explained, “This government has been in office for less than seven years. This is nothing in history. At least 15 to 20 years are needed to change a country’s mentality. I think this is the minimum period for change, to be on the way to being a rich country. Georgia is still unacceptably poor. For example, we should try to attract investors escaping the rampant corruption in Russia, since Georgia has managed to control corruption, and we should also work on attracting investments from Turkey, which has shown interest in Georgia and which has a surplus of capital.”

The President calls for taking a proactive approach to economic development and says Georgia must focus on three key sectors: infrastructure (including hydropower), agriculture and tourism. He explains, “We have already dramatically increased our agricultural output and next year we will spend around €563 million on road construction even though we will not yet be in the EU.”

President Mikheil Saakashvili has ambitious goals for Georgia. He says, “We want to make Georgia the fastest growing economy in Europe. On the one hand we should have a European political system, freedom, democracy, and political stability, and, on the other hand, a liberal economic model like Singapore’s.”