Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visits South Ossetia

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today visited South Ossetia. While there, he attended a ceremony marking the beginning installation works on an outdoor lighting system in the village of Tamarasheni. The president said that an additional 1,000 jobs were to be created in the Didi Liakhvi and Patara Liakhvi Gorges (Georgian-controlled areas of South Ossetia) by 23 November. He added that there were plans to build a sports hall, other sports facilities and a cultural centre that would provide locals with jobs. Saakashvili also toured the village council building, where, on the president's initiative, locals of both Georgian and Ossetian ethnicity have been able to claim a one-off aide payment100 lari. 
Saakashvili spoke about the historic ties between the Georgian and Ossetian peoples and stressed the need for patriotism irrespective of ethnicity. 

"Georgian patriotism is not an ethnic concept. It is a psychological state and a civic position. We must create a Georgia where every Georgian citizen is a patriot regardless of ethnic origin," Saakashvili said. 

The president later met teachers and students at a middle school in the village of Kurta. He attended a history lesion where a special video clip on Georgian-Ossetian reconciliation was shown. 

While speaking to the students, Saakashvili discussed the centuries-long friendship between the Georgian and Ossetian peoples and recalled that several of Georgia's greatest monarchs had Ossetian ancestry. 

"The friendship between ethnic Ossetians and Georgians began many centuries ago.

"Nature bestowed a great border, a threshold, to the Georgian people in the form of the Caucasus mountains. Only a dull person could think that Georgia will not defend this border. All attempts to cross this border have ended badly.

"When people look at our country from outside, they think of it as a big territory where two enemy camps have been in constant confrontation and that for centuries they have been battling and waging war with each other. You know, however, that the real situation is quite different. There have been many shameful incidents in our common life and history, but still there is so much more binding us together. I do not want to treat Georgians and Ossetians separately; I do not intend to differentiate between them based on ethnicity," President Saakashvili said.

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