Speeches & Statements

President Saakashvili attends presentation of Voice of Abkhazia radio in Zugdidi

Transcript of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's address on 5 October

Dear people, beloved people!

I spent today with Vladimir Putin and other leaders at the CIS summit in Dushanbe. But nothing is better than spending time with you. That is why I decided to come back quickly - so that I could arrive in my beloved and most loyal city of Zugdidi.

The time when Georgians begged on their knees for justice and mercy, when they humiliated themselves and hoped that people would throw them some scraps has come to an end.

At that time we lost whatever we could lose and whatever they could trample underfoot, they trampled underfoot.

But this is a different Georgia!

Today Georgia's fate is decided not in Moscow, not in Dushanbe, not in some other capital, but rather it are decided by Georgians right here in Georgia, in places like Zugdidi, places like the Inguri Bridge.

We Georgians were defeated when we attacked each other, when we were divided and, most importantly, when we lost our faith - our faith in our most holy things, faith in ourselves and faith in our homeland.

Those who did this have committed a great sin. They signed ridiculous agreements, all of which have been violated by our opponent.

I want to inform you that when I refused to sign one of the documents at the CIS summit I was reminded of when my predecessor [Eduard Shevardnadze] signed the Moscow agreement and we lost Gagra, he signed the Sochi agreement and we lost Sukhumi, he signed the new Moscow agreement and we lost Ochamchire and Gali and received these upstart messengers called peacekeepers.

No more capitulatory agreements will be signed!

No steps backward will be taken!

Georgia will not retreat!

Today all of us together - as you can see there are thousands of us here - must charge towards freedom! A new generation has arrived in Georgia, one that prefers doing things to speaking empty words, one that prefers going to reservist training camps and studying hard to idle complaining.

I welcome our Patriots!

No matter how many resolutions and recommendations they adopt, not one Georgian will leave the Patriot camp on the shores of the Inguri!

I want to tell the separatists that we are extending our hand to hold negotiations, but these negotiations must be bilateral and equal.

We are capable of giving a lot of things, but before we agree on anything, it first must be said that Abkhazia is Georgia!

Give us back our houses and give us back our people and young people!

This is a different Georgia.

Four years ago we had neither an army, nor a police force, nor an economy.

Today is national Teachers' Day. I want us all to greet the several hundred teachers here today who are true Georgian heroes!

Some people get irritated when they hear the word "heroes".

Cursing out the president on television is not heroism. Anyone can do this, but if you're a teacher of Georgian language and literature at a secondary school in Gali and they forbid you from teaching Georgian language and literature and threaten you with an assault rifle and then the next day you still teach Iakob Gogebashvili's "Mother Tongue", then you are a real hero.

I want us all to acknowledge them, because they are truly worthy of our reverence.

Long live our teachers, our unbendable Georgians whom no-one has ever been able to force to reject being Georgians, being patriots, and being loyal to their homeland.

We Georgians are a very patient and amazing people.

We have been patient for 14 years.

I want to say for the whole world to hear that our patience is reaching its limit and is running out. As of today we are beginning a countdown to our return to Abkhazia. We will all certainly return. I firmly promise you this once again. We began preparing for this several years ago.

On 21 November 2003 we gathered in torrential rains and set out to liberate the Georgian capital. At that time it was necessary to go to Tbilisi so that we could come back standing tall.

Last year we regained control over Upper Abkhazia - in the heart of Abkhazia. This was our first step towards returning to Abkhazia. Now we look out on Sukhumi and breathe in that which is Sukhumi, our houses and our holy land.

Today we are returning to Abkhazia's radio airwaves, throughout Abkhazia.

This is the second step forward. Our next step will be taken in the place:

*where last year all Georgian books were brought out from school libraries and burnt. This happened in Gagra, in the centre of the town.

* where Georgian schools in Sukhumi and Ochamchire are now empty

* where the St George Church in Ochamchire and the icon of St George are calling out to us to come back

*where the Bedia Monastery is

*where Queen Tamar's Bridge is

*where the Bichvinta Church is

*where the Holy Monastery of Akhali Atoni is...

From now on this radio station will broadcast to the whole of Abkhazia and serve to extend the hand of friendship to the Abkhaz. We want Georgia to be reunified through peaceful means, but our patience is not limitless.

I want the people who were born after the war to spend their adulthood properly - on the other side of the Inguri. That is the place for them and for each and every one of us.

No-one will be able to break the Georgians' unity.

Our ill-wisher knows well that Georgia was defeated when Georgian fought against Georgian, when barricades were set up in the middle of the city, when we did not comprehend the danger that we faced.

Today our opponent's worst nightmare: Georgia's regions, Samegrelo, Ajaria, Guria, Imereti, Tbilisi and others, are clenched together as a single fist.

My friends, life is not yet easy for us, but we will finally return to Georgia the glory it once had.

Georgia is a special, multiethnic country, which has a special charm, appeal, grace, and holiness.

Georgia today is what it was under King Davit the Builder - clenched together as a single fist, fearless, prepared and energetic; it will not retreat in the face of any obstacle.

The enemy will never be able to see us retreat or get scared. You are the guarantee for this.

I want to congratulate you on this day!

The new music video on Abkhazia made many people cry, but these are not tears of desperation. We all know that for the first time in years we have a real hope of returning to Abkhazia. We will return. The question is when. When? Soon - to spite the enemy and to ensure our happiness.

press Office
of the President of Georgia

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