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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

October 14th, 2009
08:54 PM ET

LONDON, England - President of the Republic of Georgia since 2004, Mikhail Saakashvili's time in office has been marked by a deterioration in the country's relations with Russia.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/14/art.saakashvili.afp.gi.jpg caption="Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili at a memorial service in Tbilisi, August 7, 2009"]
A recent report into a five-day clash between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 concluded that relations between the two were at an "all-time low."

The report, by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, found that historical tensions and an overreaction on both sides contributed to the conflict last year that claimed 850 lives. Read more

On Thursday, Saakashvili will become CNN's first head of state "Connector of the Day."

Send him your questions - What do you want to know about his presidency, his view on relations with Russia, his plans for the future and his legacy in Georgia?

Saakashvili rose to power in Georgia in 2004 after leading the "Rose Revolution" which forced the resignation of his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze.

He came into office with a vow to crack down on corruption and to improve the well-being of the average Georgian.

His pro-Western stance has earned him friends outside the country, but he has attracted criticism from some quarters for his style of leadership.

In April, as many as 60,000 demonstrators took to the country's streets, blaming the president for Georgia's escalating problems with Russia. They also were angry about rising poverty in the country.

Saakashvili has been defiant in the face of anti-government protest and has vowed to remain in office until his term ends.

He is the youngest national president in Europe, and a family man with two young sons - if you want to ask him anything about the challenges of his extraordinary life add a comment below.

Connect the World, Thursday October 15 at 2000 GMT

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. John

    when will he finally leave? his departure from the post will give his country a chance for better future.

    October 15, 2009 at 9:50 am | Reply
  2. Mick C. Malkemus

    Dear Mr. President,

    I've communicated with persons from S.Ossetia that claim they were fired upon by Georgian forces prior to the Russian 'invasion'. Why did Georgia troops kill innocent people while they slept?

    Supporting video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lptVAbw5oos&feature=PlayList&p=6522DDFB8B6E5373&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=27

    October 15, 2009 at 10:02 am | Reply
  3. Putin

    Hallo my friend. How are you?

    October 15, 2009 at 10:07 am | Reply
  4. Varlam

    Mr. President, you promised twice that you'll return Abkhazia to Georgia until your resignation in 2013. Can you confirm your promises now?

    October 15, 2009 at 10:40 am | Reply
  5. Imtiaz

    President Saakashvili,

    1. Were you aware or did you had any imagination that the Russians would use so much of their fire power in retaliation to the act that you did with the help of israeli defence personnel?

    2. What was your objective behind bombarding the osettian towns, that you claimed were harboring separatists. Dont you think you helped their cause by using brute force on them which gave easy reason for Russians to use their immense fire power and declare South Ossetia as independent.?

    3. You blatantly lied to the whole world about the timing of the war and blamed the Russians for all that happened. But the EU fact finding mission completely speaks otherwise? How do you defend your arguement? Do you want to say they are lying?

    4. Within your country your opposition is steadily increasing and your own people are calling you authoritarian and are asking you to step down. They also blame you for the Osettian situation? what do say?

    Thank you for consdering to answer my questions. Mr. President.

    Best wishes,
    Imtiaz

    October 15, 2009 at 11:14 am | Reply
  6. serge

    Dear President,

    What do you think about relations between Kosovo's recognition of independense and problems with South Osetia?

    October 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  7. Alex

    How long you are ready milk USA like previous Soviet Union? Do you think that USA give you money easily for 70 years?

    October 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  8. James Aquilina

    Dear Mr. Saakashvili,

    Do you thing August 2008 conflict could have been avoided, if NATO accepted your membership application? Why do you thing Germany is against your membership in NATO?

    October 15, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  9. Ioseliani

    What does silk taste like? Or was it polyester?

    October 15, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  10. Rafat

    most likely south osetia case will not be solved any time soon, if that happened, what do you think the relation with Russia will look like within 5 years, 10 years or more?
    and naother question, do you think that the Nato will accept Georgia membership? and if yes, will you Nato be obligged to defend russia and return back south Osetia?

    October 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  11. David

    I am proud to be Georgian, and I am proud that we have president like you, but done you think that our government needs to think more before decisions then many others nations.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  12. Jean, Paris

    Dear Mr President,

    1. THE WAR. Before you attacked South Ossetia in early August 2008: Did you not see that Russia had planted at trap for you? Did you really believe that NATO or the United States would provide military assistance to fight off the inevitable Russian response? Why did you not first exhaust the option of finding a political solution for the two enclaves?

    2. OBJECTIVES. What are now your strategic objectives for cooperation with Russia, the enclaves, your other neighbours, and the European Union – especially since any NATO membership realistically would be on the back-burner? Could Georgia not position itself as FINLAND did in the difficult times of the Soviet Union?

    3. OPPOSITION. Why do you not allow the oppostion to express itself freely in the media and otherwise, and to give your government ideas for the future? How do you plan to heal rifts among your citizens?

    4. LEGACY. What is your ambition for your personal legacy: a fighter of Russia, a pragmatic stateman, a Caucase peacemaker, a political and cultural innovator, something else?

    I look forward to your response.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  13. Olga

    Are you a "Made in the USA" robot? You are outdated now.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  14. George Topouria

    Mr. President,

    I am a 19-year-old citizen of Georgia, residing in the capital Tbilisi. I have acquainted myself with the recently released EU report on the August war, and I all but wonder about one thing – If Georgia fired the first shot after months of Russian-backed provocations by the South Ossetian rebels, how come the political figures and states you so vigorously and proudly label as 'Georgia's allies' intervened to extricate Georgia only when direct hostilities with Russia broke out?

    Was it because the Georgian government didn't present the facts of Russia's troops entering Georgia's breakaway regions prior to the war or shelling of Georgian villages by South Ossetian rebels (whichever was the true motive of the operation against South Ossetia?

    Or was it because the West failed to react, or didn't borther to react, until Russia flexed its military muscles by stepping in to drive Georgian forces out of both enclaves and later settle in Georgian proper? Why didn’t you call an alarm straight away in Europe if you knew Russians were bringing in thousands of troops through the de facto South Ossetian border? Why say it several days later when Georgia’s army was crushed and fortified at the outskirts of Tbilisi?

    I expect a direct answer, Mr. President.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  15. Jean, Paris

    Mr President,

    I should also have asked you about the opportunities you see to develop the ECONOMY of Georgia - notably the main sectors and trading partners, and the needed resources of managerial expertise, competitive technology, and skilled manpower ?

    October 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  16. Tarek H

    President Saakashvili,

    over one year after the war, now that you know all the results of the military campaign in South Ossetia and the Russian military and diplomatic response, would you act differently, if you were back in August 2008 again?

    October 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  17. ronny

    maybe you should step down giving your people a fair chance for a better life.

    norway

    October 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  18. Nicholas G.

    Greetings Mr. Saaskashvilli,

    I would like your opinion on your country's chances at full NATO membership, and not just a member of the Partnership for Peace Cooperative.

    This being said, how are you planning to modernize and re-equip and grow/sustain your armed forces in the face of continued Russian presence within Abkhazia and S. Ossetia? Will your armed forces continue to partner with NATO or nations such as the US? What will be your nation's role in countering terrorism (both domestically and internationally)? Do you foresee an opportunity to return the territory lost during the last summer's conflict to Georgian control?

    I was rather disappointed with the results of the Bucharest Summit, which denied your country the opportunity to become a full member, as well as Ukraine. I feel that a series of pro-western democracy governments in the Caucasus and Crimea would place additional pressure on Russia to accept that it no longer has the capacity to inflict its will on sovereign nations without their consent.

    October 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  19. Archil

    Dear Mr. President,

    Few questions:
    1) Can you speak about Georgia's relationship with its neighbors (Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia).
    2) When is expected to have a dialog with Russia to fix all existing on going issues and what is doing the Georgian leadership for it?
    3) What are regional organisations doing to streamline issues with one of the its member (I mention Georgia), such are "GUAM", "BISSEK" etc
    thank you

    October 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  20. sandy

    Dear Mr. President,

    My question to you is, why do you think so many people in your own country and even abroad fail to understand your August actions?

    I am not a Georgian, but I live in Georgia for the last 6 years, I am an Indian and am very well aware with separatist in our country (Kashmir) which has become a breeding place for terrorism, and after years of UN resolutions and haggling the status remains the same with no resolution in sight – who suffers? its the local people.

    It seems to me very few understand that history has shown that nobody gives you anything in the platter, especially when dealing with Russians. And I am also sure that if the world would have taken the side of the right and supported you in deeds as much as they do in words, it would have been a different story today.

    I hope the world has learned its lessons from the August War, and in the future the world and its powerful leaders don't set the price of oil/gaz more dearer than the cost of blood and freedom.

    October 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  21. Joseph

    I would like Mr. Shakasvili to let us know the state of affairs with respect to the two break away regions and if there is the possibility of resolving the histility.

    October 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  22. Sam

    do you think your close relationship with the West has made it harder or easier for you to get the loyalty of your country and neighbors?

    October 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  23. Casimir Nystrand

    Sir

    Do you think that you will last another year in power and if so how will you do that?

    October 15, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  24. seth

    MR PRESIDENT I THINK YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB FOR YOUR COUNTRY CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT YOUHAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIGHT OFF TYRANY AND OPPRESSION FROM RUSSIAN AND THE TRUE DEMOCRATIC DISPENSATION YOU HAVE BROUGHT TO GEORGIA, THE ECONOMIC PROSPERITY , THE INSFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT. STURDY ECONOMIC GROWTH RATE, AND THE DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN CORRUPTION YOU BROUGHHT TO GEORGIA ENVIED BY RUSSIA, YOU ARE YOUNG, SMART AND BOLD. DON,T LEAVE THE PRESIDENCY TO THE HAWKS AND THE STOOGES OF RUSSIA WHO WANT TO RETURN YOUR COUNTRY TO THE DARK DAYS IN THE PAST UNTIL YOUR TIME TO LEAVE OFFICE IS UP. GOD BLESS AND PROTECT YOU. MY ONLY ADVICE IS, EASEN UP ON THE MEDIA BUT BUILD A STRONG COMMUNICATION MINISTRY TO COUNTER NEGATIVE AND UNCONSTRUCTIVE PROPAGANDER AGAINTS YOUR PERSON AND GOVERNMENT.

    October 15, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  25. Zbigniew

    Mr. President

    Good luck to you and heroic people of Georgia Do not cease to defend independence of your great country. Anything is better than subjugation by Russia. We in Poland know a bit about it too.

    Zbigniew

    October 15, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  26. ahmed

    Do u understand international relation?,can you just pls step aside and save that country and forget about politic all together.You have cause so much damage to that country in very short time.

    October 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  27. Andrey

    Dear Mr. President,
    What are your plans if The US and Europe don't support you? Will you resign or escape somewhere like Africa?

    October 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  28. Peter

    One doesn't need to be a genius to realize Georgia has no chance to stand up to Russia militarywise. Yet you ordered the attack on Russian peacekeeping forces in the separatist region. The result was a smashing counterattack by Russia, which destroyed your army and resulted in death of many young Georgian military boys.

    So why did you do it? What was the strange, unfathomable logic behind your action?

    Or did you expect we westerners would send OUR boys to die defending YOUR policies?

    I wait your reply.

    October 15, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  29. Stepan

    Dear Mr. President
    1)What do you think about USSR reunion? Is it possible? Do you see any advantages?
    and another one
    2)What about your future plans, when you will be retired?
    Thank you Mr/ President

    October 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  30. Robert Chikwe

    Dear Mr President,
    We admire your courage but is it possible you could tow a neutral line between Russia and the West or is it an intractable problem like the Jewish-Palestinian imbroglio in the Middle East?

    October 15, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  31. Muhamet Brajshori

    I wanted to ask the president how he sees the impact of Kosovo's Independence in the Georgian crisis. Do he willl recognize Kosovo, as his closed allies, USA, UK, Turkey etc., has do it.

    October 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  32. Mahno

    Mr. President , i think you have to continue to do the right things :
    1) Keep your people free from Russian imperialism
    2) Take care of your people , of your self , and have a good corporation with NATO

    October 15, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  33. A friend of Ioseliani

    Ukrainian military hardware advertisements aside, what is your military assessment of the August war?

    October 15, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  34. Ioseliani

    "The shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia.....There is the question of whether [this] use of force... was justifiable under international law. It was not."
    What's your spin on this?

    October 15, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  35. Dan...... Madrid

    Mr President ! Why Georgia was not invited to join NATOP at the Bucharest summit last year ? Georgia is providing troops in Afganistan. What for ? Can you believe that in future NATO will accept your contry or always will ask Rusia first ??

    October 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  36. Alejandro

    Hello Mr President. I got married with a georgian and she has recently visited Tibilisi and she was plesently surprised on the much better situation of the city from two years ago. I think that is thanks to your western vision. We thank you for your courage and hope you keep up with it always thinking on the better being of the population that still lives with very very little money. My mother in law is an english teacher and she lives with so little money you can hardly believe.

    October 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  37. Kartlos Adeishvili

    Mr. President,

    I was wondering if you have any plans to stay in power beyond your term ending in 2013? In other words, would you come back as Prime-Minister of Georgia for example?

    During snap January 5th 2008 presidential election campaign you stated that your biggest mistake was your long time ally and former Defense Minister, Mr. Irakli Oqruashvili. Has your opinion changed and do you still consider him as your biggest mistake?

    October 15, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  38. Hans kuller

    Mr. President, greetings.
    First, I want to say you are a brave man.
    Please, Are you concerned about an attack from Russia again in the next months?

    Thank you,

    Hans Kuller

    October 15, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  39. PRO GEORGIAN down with Russia

    Mikhail Saakashvili YOU ARE FANTASTIC , YOU ARE OUR HERO

    YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT WE LOVE YOU , You are really a Fighter

    Fight for Georgia , fight for Georgian People , you are The Best Mikhail Saakashvili

    October 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  40. J.

    Too many haters. Not enough love. I am one American behind both you and your country!

    October 15, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  41. Goddy

    Mr President,
    Great leaders must avoid wars. I guess you knew very well the military capabilities of the Russian Federation and should have avoid the war by all possible means, don't you think so?

    October 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  42. Ilan

    Dear President:

    They said that the Israeli army trained the Georgian army. It is true, and does Israel continues to provide military expertise to the Georgian army?

    October 17, 2009 at 4:33 am | Reply

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