President Saakashvili addresses young people outside State Chancellery following release of students from Abkhaz custody

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili received Koba Rigvava, Iveri Qorshia and Levan Ghachava, the three Georgians students newly freed from prison in Abkhazia, at the State Chancellery and awarded them the medal of honour for their courage and self-sacrifice.

After handing the students their medals, the president addressed a group of young people that had gathered outside the Chancellery. He noted once again that Georgia's state border runs along the Caucasus ridge and that therefore no-one can forbid anyone from crossing the Inguri River, between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.

"The Georgian border is not the Inguri, not the Kodori Gorge and not the Gumista River. Instead our border is the Psou River [on the Abkhazia section of the Georgia-Russia border], so no-one can forbid anyone from crossing the Inguri. There is no border of any kind at the Inguri bridge. Therefore no-one can be tried in Georgian territory for violating this border.

President Saakashvili said the Georgian people had two primary instincts - honour and love for the homeland. "Our opponent was hoping to break us and bring us to our knees. They will not succeed. We have reached an important goal and we will manage to show the world that we cannot be slapped around by anyone.

He also criticized the Abkhaz separatist authorities for demanding that Georgia apologize for starting the 1992-93 war in which the region won de facto independence.

"You kicked people out of their homes, you took control of their property and it is you who must apologize to us. No-one will be able to require permission for a person to move from one place in Georgia to another. "Apparently, teachers must be punished when little children lean out the windows of their school and say 'Long live Georgia!' Apparently, people can be beaten and even killed for wearing a T-shirt that says 'I love Georgia'.

"Both Georgians and Abkhaz will live in Abkhazia, but those who think that Georgians have no place living in Abkhazia will not be able to live peacefully.

President Saakashvili concluded by calling on the students to show restraint and pursue only peaceful methods to achieve the country's reunification.

"Together we are reaching the final stage of our country's peaceful reunification. Refrain from violence, lawlessness and terror because everyone will be called to account for that. This is no longer that Georgia, this is a different country, a different people and a different state," he said.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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