Speeches & Statements

The President of Georgia awarded Senator Joseph Lieberman with St George's Order of Victory

The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili:

I have an honor to award you with the highest medal Georgia has, on behalf of my nation. I just what to say few words what you mean for us and why you represent an exceptional person for struggling people like us. First of all, I had been coming to Washington DC since early 90ies and we have seen ups and downs here. One thing I discovered here is that this town is inhabited by human beings fortunately; but we have found out that there are such persons, idealists, like you are. Then it doesn't matter how small your country is, how far away you are and how difficult your challenges are and that keeps you going. If you think that you are right and you feel that there is someone who thinks like you and it makes you warm. Actually this is what you represent for us.

It has been a long time since I have been watching your distinguished career your exceptional with great admiration. I remember, when people didn't care for Bosnia at all. They used to say this rivalry counts centuries. And you were one of, if not the only person, who raised his voice and spoke out in favor of human rights, human dignity, freedom and American involvement. And I remember everything and this is such a strange coincidence that people were so much on the side of Bosnia and the same people have always been on the side of Georgia. And I remember very well your letters to the Administration before the NATO Summit in Bucharest, when you tried to actively push to the membership of Action Plan, they needed your advice, but unfortunately this issue was already decided. NATO was not any longer united and there were some other allies who needed to follow this request. But the real friends are seen during the times of trouble. It was beginning of August, we had Olympics and most of the politicians were gone for holidays. And I was trying to call people, before they would disconnect their phones. I remember very well the dinner in Beijing, when you came and remember how reassuring you were. Because I walked away from that dinner, again charging the batteries, believing that we still have future. I remember your article that was absolutely amazing, which I reread just recently and this is historical for us. I want to quote you exactly. "This is a moment of history when it is important for the world democracies to send solidarity. Russia's aggression is not just a threat to a tiny democracy on the edge of Europe. It is a challenge to the political order and values at the heart of the continent. Russia's invasion of Georgia represents the most serious challenge to this political order since Slobodan Milosevic unleashed the demons of ethnic nationalism in the Balkans". No body said it so precisely as you defined it in that moment. And you know 20 percent of our territories are still occupied, we have half a million of internally displaced people all around the territory of Georgia; these are people of different ethnic origins. But we are still a free country, after what happened three and half years ago. We were just named as a world number one country fighting with corruption by Transparency International and we are world's number one reformer by the World Bank. We still have strong, robust growth and we still have people who believe in their future. I had a meeting in Congress, at the House of Representatives, I have named all challenges we have, one by one and he was asking me "how is it possible". It has no rational explanation. But I think that we are irrationally around and we continue to be so, because there is another force in the world for good and you are one of the greatest leaders of that force. All my life I have believed that evil will be defeated by the end. I had also believed that good always prevails and without any exaggeration I want to say that you are one of the greatest leaders of that force.

Having said all that, on behalf of my nation I want to give you this medal.


Joseph Lieberman, US Senator :

Thank you Mr. President, my dear friend Misha. Receiving this honor of Georgia means a lot to me. I will tell you that I came as a senator right at the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union . President Nixon was so strong and after the collapse has supported the first steps in Russia toward democracy and all the countries have been subjugated by the Soviet Union. The sad fact now is that more than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union ,the promise of that remarkable event of our time has not been realized , in fact overall hopes of free and  modern Russia. Many of them  have been suppressed and unrealized . Here the governments you know better than I , that is increasingly autocratic that suppresses human rights that doesn't really allow the rule of low to prevail, and that has increasingly been mistreating its neighbors and in fact the western Europe as a bully using very aggressive tactics ,in regard of energy recourses or cyber attack . In the case of Georgia an actual invasion of 20% really -South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Still 2 and a half years after that August  Russia is still occupying 20% of your land and I just want to say you that as long as it happens we will be with you in every way to turn that back, but we will always be with you because we share your values and we are proud of how you are doing your liberal reforms and all standards you have achieved -  the reduction of corruption , your government is keep going forward because more democratic you are the more secure you will be and more nations , NATO EU and the US stand solidly with you.

Senator McCain and I talked the other day. We are going to have the course and pursue it in the congress in order to make sure that the United States provides Georgia with defensive weapons to protect itself against Russian occupants. We very appreciate the statement about new military initiative that Georgia will never use violence means to essentially gain back its lands. But Georgia needs  it to protect, defend itself.

I understand that I don't usually deserve  this order but I know that when anybody gives it you say thank you. And also in order to continue the job for which you are awarded.

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