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Friday, 7 April, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Shevardnadze's campaign pledges

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has made fighting corruption and national reconciliation the key themes of his campaign for Georgia's 9 April presidential election. At a rally of his supporters ahead of the vote he set out his vision of a future democratic, free and peaceful Georgia:

The following are excerpts from Shevardnadze's address, broadcast by Georgian TV on 3rd April:

Truth is a healer. It is a harsh, painful and powerful surgical instrument. However, we cannot be healed without its help. Without pain and suffering, we shall not be able to create and establish a truly happy, a truly free, strong and prosperous Georgia ...

I must say with all authority, without any doubt or weakness, that I understand the reality correctly and clearly. I can see the country's problems. I can see to the depths of what causes these problems.

Eduard Shevardnadze
Georgian Head of State from March 1992

Soviet Foreign Minister 1985-90, 1991

Key ally of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in ending Cold War

Returned to Georgia in March 1992 after brief civil war and overthrow of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia

August 1995: survives assassination attempt
I truly have the strength to act resolutely and bravely and, if necessary, strictly and even severely, to eradicate all the cancerous growths which are preventing the body of an independent Georgia from growing and developing healthily and freely ...

Reform the only salvation

Once again, we must look for the key to the most difficult and most acute state problems in strengthening our independent and democratic state, in further developing more radical reforms. This is the only salvation ...

Corruption in a state body, including wrecking the most important function of the state - tax collection and implementing the budget - is proof that this disease exists. The Georgian state cannot exist without the budget ...

The president will have the right to take the most severe measures in order to establish law and order

It was difficult for me to utter those hard words: that our country has no future if we do not eradicate corruption. However, I said this and by doing so, I confirmed the need to complete the building of our statehood., a great public agreement.

On the basis of this, the president will have the right, he will even be obliged, to take the most severe measures in order to establish law and order in the bodies of the state in particular and society as a whole in the same way as we have established law and order in the streets of our villages and towns where once men with guns were walking freely and where they were masters of streets, houses and even villages and towns.

National reconciliation

We have managed to put an end to bloody civil wars in Georgia. I am proud that our leadership as a whole, and I personally, have done a lot for Georgia to achieve broad public agreement for nationwide reconciliation ...

We must dispel the clouds of civil war over Georgia

I am prepared to take new steps in order to dispel the clouds of a civil war in Georgia. I am talking about clouds here, these clouds have gathered above us.

We must dispel these clouds over Georgia. Everybody, every citizen, every person, whose hands have not been smeared in the blood of his fellow countryman should return to freedom.

On the basis of this, during the first years of the new millennium, with the help of the people's mandate and with your trust and support I will, without fail, complete the task we have undertaken, complete the process of building a new, democratic state of Georgia and fight severely and ruthlessly, albeit within the law, every vice which is preventing Georgia's advancement and development.

I would also like to say that we must create every condition, and I can guarantee you this, to enable every person to develop in freedom and happiness so that everybody can use their talents fully to bring wealth to their families and country.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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