A Conversation with Toomas Hendrik Ilves (CC' 76), President of the Republic of Estonia and Mikheil Saakashvili (LAW' 94), President of the Republic of Georgia
President Lee C.
Bollinger moderates a discussion between President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
and President Mikheil Saakashvili. This event is co-sponsored by the Harriman
In Georgia's Rose Revolution, between 2000 and 2004, a massive popular opposition movement bloodlessly toppled a corrupt regime of the former communist bloc. In his address, President Mikheil Saakashvili examines a variety of issues and challenges of ensuring that democratic revolutions remain democratic.
Cohosted by the Harriman Institute.
Mikheil SaakashviliPresident of Georgia
Mikheil Saakashvili became the democratically elected President of Georgia on the 25th of January, 2004. President Saakashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia on the 21st of December 1967, the eldest son of three brothers.
In 1984, Mikheil Saakashvili graduated with honors from Tbilisi Secondary School N51 and was accepted into the prestigious Kiev University Institute of International Relations where he graduated with honors.
President Saakashvili attended Columbia Law School as an Edmund S. Muskie Fellow where he received his master of laws (LL.M.) in 1995. From 1995 to 1996, he studied law at the doctoral level at The George Washington University National Center of Law in Washington, D.C. He received a diploma in comparative law of human rights at the Strasbourg Human Rights International Institute. He then spent more than half of 1992 specializing in minority issues at the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights and organized a conference between Georgians and South Ossetians that led to the first signed ceasefire agreement.
Coming home to Georgia, he was elected to Parliament in 1995 and was immediately elected by his peers in Parliament as chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal Issues and Legal Affairs.
In August 1998, he became majority leader of Parliament when his party, the "Citizen's Union," elected him leader of their parliamentary delegation. He was re-elected to Parliament in 1999 but this time elected directly by the constituents of the Vake district in central Tbilisi.
The Georgian Parliament elected him head of Georgia's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In January 2000 in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elected Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia its Vice President.
On October 12, 2000, then-President Edward Shevardnadze appointed Mikheil Saakashvili minister of justice of Georgia. Seven out of eight parties in a deeply divided parliament voted in his favor.
In September 2001, less than a year after his appointment, Mikheil Saakashvili resigned as minister of justice over the government's unwillingness to end corruption within itself. He also resigned from his party, the "Citizens' Union." Only weeks after that resignation and now running as an independent, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to Parliament in October of 2001 by the constituents of Tbilisi's Vake District. Before the end of 2001, he formed a new party, "The United National Movement," pledging to take the fight to the government over corruption.
Mikheil Saakashvili resigned his seat in Parliament to be eligible to run locally for Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo). He won on the platform, "Tbilisi without Shevardnadze" and was elected council chair.
As council chair (2002-2003), he put new energy into the neglected city and jumpstarted programs to create real city services. He became a candidate again for Parliament for the new "National Movement" party in what would become the historic Georgian national elections scheduled for November 2003.
In the special elections held on the 4th of January 2004 that were watched by the entire world, the people of Georgia overwhelmingly elected Mikheil Saakashvili as their President.
President Saakashvili lives in a 3-room apartment in a private residential building in Tbilisi with his wife, Sandra, and their two sons.