Speeches & Statements

Latvian President pledges Georgia support at Independence Day Parade

Mr. President Saakashvili, respected members of parliament and the government of Georgia, dear people of Georgia.

I greet you on this day of celebration, the national day of independence. It is a day of pride, it is a day of joy, and I have come here from a country 2,000 km away to be by your side and bring the greetings of the Latvian people.

I want to tell you that we support you in all your strivings, I want to tell you that we admire what you have achieved. I want to tell you that we are ready to support you in all you are willing and able to do to get your country to be one of the shining examples in the whole region. I want to bring you the love of the Latvian people.

The year 1918 was a historical date for the creation of the Republic of Georgia and the independent Latvia. We were looking forward to a different Europe and to a different way of living on our continent. Alas, it was not to be true. For two years we had to fight the Bolshevik troops in our east and German renegade troops in our south until we finally could obtain sovereignty over our territory.

This gave us 20 years of peace, of independence and democracy. This allowed us to establish the foundations of our modern nation. But World War II destroyed all of that and for the next half century our fate has been closely linked to yours.

We were together again when the Soviet empire was collapsing and we were fortunate to be able to obtain our independence again and to clear our country of many foreign troops. And this is why you have our full understanding and our support for the desire of Georgia to have a country that has its own borders that belong to it, that it can defend on its own and it has no foreign troops on its soil.

The whole world was watching as Georgia went through its Rose Revolution, and ever since that time Georgia has been a beacon of hope and of democracy for those countries, which still are only dreaming about it.

Your great achievement is that you achieved it with a rose in your hand and that the red of the rose was the red of the love of your liberty. It was not that of blood spilled on your soil.

My own people had a singing revolution and our people, like yours, went out into the streets with their red, white, red flags and a song on their lips and nothing else but faith in their rights, faith in their freedom and a conviction that their country must be free again.

I greet you, people of Georgia, on this day of your pride, because you are proud nation and you have a right to be proud.

You stand here as heirs of all that has gone before you and you have behind you over 2,000 years of development, of civilization and distinguished history.

You have great kings and great queens, you have had great warriors, you have had poets, you have had artists and architects and all your nation has shown that it is a nation of beauty, of peace and of creativity.

But just like in my country, Latvia, throughout the centuries all that you have built up with you hands and skills was so often simply trampled, destroyed and taken away from you by one foreign power or another.

But I tell you, people of Georgia, no more will this happen again. Europe will not allow it, the world will not allow it.

Your country is yours, to have and to hold. Your country is yours to develop according to your own dreams, according to your own wishes, according to your own will.

You have freedom at last and a burden of tyranny has been lifted from your shoulders. You now have to assume the mantle of responsibility, but that is one of your own choosing, that is one that belongs only to you.

You are a free nation with a rich past and heritage and you have a choice. You can take from your heritage all that is good and reject all that you find not acceptable or wanting.

You are a great nation, not great in enormous size, not great in an enormous population, not large in terms of the arms that you can use to attack other nations. You are great in the richness of you culture, of your heritage and the talents and the hearts of your people.

You have embarked on the road which my country Latvia has been following for the last 15 years and we have had the satisfaction, a year ago, of becoming members of the European Union and enjoying the security that the NATO alliance allows us. I can tell you from our experience that the road has been long and hard and has taken a lot of effort on our part. But we traveled it shoulder to shoulder with other nations with the same ideals and we traveled it with the help of those who were already members of those international bodies. And just as we received help when we needed it most, we stand ready to offer you help and to encourage others to do so when you will be needing it.

People of Georgia, I encourage you to keep on the path that you started during the Rose Revolution. You should keep in the heart of your hearts a love for your country. You should believe with all your soul in the greatness of your nation and in the possibilities of its future. You should stand ready to defend your soil and give up your life if need be, but most of all you need the courage and the determination you have already showed in the past.

I know and the world knows, you do have courage, you do have faith and you do have determination. Be strong in your hopes and in your dreams, be strong in your strivings, be strong in you daily achievements. Your country is now in your own hands, your history is now yours for the making. I wish you strength, I wish you happiness, I wish you God's blessings. [Switches to Georgian] God bless Georgia.

This transcript is published with permission from BBC Monitoring, Reading, UK

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of the President of Georgia

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