Four presidents lay foundation for the monument of liberty

The Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko, Estonian President Arnold Ruutel and Romanian President Traian Basescu laid the foundation for the monument of liberty on the Freedom Square on November 23. The monument of St George, gifted by Zurab Tsereteli [Georgian painter, sculptor and architect], will be erected on May 26. 
A emorandum of liberty, signed by the presidents of Georgia, Romania, Ukraine, Estonia and Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze and human right fighter Anatoly Sharansky, was put in a special capsule and planted in the foundation of the monument. After the memorandum signing ceremony President Saakashvili recalled the last days of revolution and said: 

"Greetings to you all. Today we have the honour of playing host to the presidents of four, of three very important countries, our great friends. The Estonian president arrived yesterday and the Romanian and Ukrainian presidents arrived today.

For us, for Georgia, this is a very important day. On the last day of the revolution, people gathered in this square. I remember very well how nervous we were about whether or not enough people would come.

It so happened that we then went towards the Chancellery where the authorities used tear gas, but we still broke through that cordon and went in without the police putting up any resistance. The police did not resist because for several weeks we had all worked with the police and law-enforcement bodies.

By the way, I have recently seen a French film chronicling the events as they happened minute by minute. I had not seen such a detailed account before. We went to parliament. First, I, Zurab Zhvania and Nino Burjanadze gathered in the National Movement office and decided that we would go to parliament. We did not know then what was happening in parliament. Our task was to prevent the Georgian president opening the session, which would have amounted to the legitimization of an illegally and fraudulently elected Georgian parliament. We did not expect to be there in time.

In the French film we saw very clearly what happened. The doors opened, we went in and that was precisely the minute, the second, President Shevardnadze was saying, I declare this parliament session - He was about to say open, but before he opened his mouth, the doors opened and we went in. It was some miraculous force that led us there at that very second because, since we did not watch television, we did not know what point in the proceedings they were at. It was the very last second at which we could still stop the functioning of that parliament. That is precisely when we went inside.

It was truly a miracle and I must say that this miracle took place on St George's Day, 23 November two years ago. We celebrate St George's Day twice a year, so precisely eight months later, seven months later, the same thing happened in Batumi on 6 May 2004 [reference to the overthrow of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze]. There, too, everyone had expected violence, everyone had expected bloodshed, the local dictator was ready to resort to brute force of any kind, but the people, the Adjarian public, expelled him and on the second St George's Day we all celebrated the liberation of Adjara, the return of that beautiful region into Georgia's fold.

What we are unveiling today is not a monument to a saint or some religious monument. This is a monument to the victory of freedom. St George, in the Georgian tradition, is a symbol of miraculous victory. This is a symbol of a victory which no-one expects but which nevertheless materializes, so that good triumphs over evil. That is why dragon-slaying St George on a white marble column is a symbol of good triumphing over evil".

Part of this translation is published with permission from BBC Monitoring, Reading UK

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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