The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili’s speech delivered at the ceremony dedicated to Russia-Georgian war anniversary

My dear fellow citizens,

A year ago, on August 7, the Russian 58th Army backed by several other military units as well as in February of 1921 11th Army crossed the Georgian borders recognized internationally and intervened into Georgia.

A year ago, on August 7th, after several days' intensive bombardment of our villages and towns, our citizens, our police and military, started a full-scale operation of annexing our country started.

As already many times throughout our history the Georgian nation found themselves in the fight for their existence, for the survival.

On August 7, 2008 the Russian plan of destroying Georgia's freedom, democracy and statehood was put into action in the cruelest form.

After a long embargo, economic blockades, provocations, bombardments, threats, boycotts and other rough but finally not successful pressures of the old KGB followers decided to finish the so-called "Georgian project", our common attempt to create a modern, European, democratic, successful state in Caucasus.

Today our nation, a multi ethnic Georgian society gets united to respect the memory of those heroes who sacrificed their lives to defend their motherland, who refused to be adapted to the aggressors, who dedicated their lives not to give up Georgia.

Let's respect the memory of those who found death in their own houses, yards, plots or offices.

We all remember and we will never forget our heroes, who joined the list of those who sacrificed their lives during the centuries, those who kept freedom and independence for the future generations, as well as our nationality and statehood.

We will never forget them...

I remember pretty well...

I remember their names, their faces, their histories; I know their close relatives...

I remember the heroes who fell dead in the war...

I remember Nodar Devnozashvili, Vitali Takadze, Emzar Tsilosani, Artem Balakhashvili, Giga Gogorishvili, Levan Devdariani, Zaur Teneishvili and many others...

Every day, since the days of war their names, their stories feel my heart with unbelievable sorrow, respect and love.

I remember captain Erekle Kuloshvili, who went deep into the enemies' disposition to get the coordinates and pass them to our artillery that was moving in the direction of the Georgian gorges. Because Georgia fulfilled all international obligations, the police that was armed lightly, defended the gorges and the population living there. This population was surrounded and they were under the threat of abolishment. Erekle continued his way and it was impossible for him to return, he passed his coordinates to our artillery, it gave our artillery a chance to stop our enemies for several days near Kupta bridge and thus saved the lives of the local population. I remember Erekle and will always remember him...

He didn't live to see his son born, because his son was born three months after his father's death. Erekle's life finished, but he saved tens of thousands peoples' lives. I want to express great respect towards Erekle's wife, Nino Kandelaki, who is here with us today.

I remember the brothers - Gela and George Romelashvili.

The refugees fro Tskhinvali, they met the enemy on the front-line. Gela Romelashvili was one of the first who, in his tank went through the enemy's line and opened fire to 58th Army. Right after this fight, one of the strongest unit of the 58 Army was abolished and the Army General Khrulov was the first Russian General who was wounded and fled from the battlefield together with his driver and left the destroyed units. After this attack the tank of our hero was exploded and he fell dead.

After several hours of fighting his brother George was lost.

I remember George, I remember Gela. I remember and think of his daughter, who was born after a month of that tragic day. She will be raised without her father, but I want to tell her that she is a daughter of a hero and must always be proud that her father was born here and died for his homeland.

I remember Aleksandre Oniani and his warriors.

His unit was organizing a retreat operation when they were attacked near village Shindisi. His soldiers sacrificed themselves in this heavy battle. He shot several adversaries, but when his resistance had no sense he exploded a bomb in his hand.

I cannot keep from remembering our National Hero Zaza Damonia. When General Barankevich and his unit were fighting against us and threw the bomb into the trench of those combatants who defended the peaceful villages, Zaza Domenia covered it by his body and saved the lives of four soldiers.

Until there are heroes like Aleksandre Oniani born in Georgia, Georgia will never kneel down and our nation will never be broken, and the enemy will never gain a victory.

I remember father and son Badri and Vakhtang Gzirishvili.

Badri faught in Abkhazia and sacrificed himself there. His son Vakhtang was 4 years old than.

Vakhtang was going to get ammunition for his unit, when he and two fellow soldiers were killed by the aviation.

After his death, his mother Mrs. Marina Gzirishvili established a fund, which is building a church in Varketili in the memory of her husband and son. She helps children of dead and wounded soldiers.

I remember Badri and Vakhtang. I remember both of them and I express my gratitude towards Mrs. Marina for her unbelievable humanity.

Mrs. Marina, by your pain and strength, Georgia's heart is biting in your breast, you represent the soul of our country for me.

I remember Captain Leri Lagurashvili - very successful doctor, he saved many peoples' lives.

He saved several peoples' lives, he brought them out of the battlefield and got hit by Russian bomb when he was taking them to Gori hospital. He was heavily wounded and died in several days.

I visited his family, to stand by and calm them, but they were trying to calm me. Later, his father founded an organization for territorial integrity of Georgia. The aim of this organization is to improve material conditions of the families and relatives of those who fell dead in the war.

Let's specially respect Leri Lagurashvili's memory and bow our heads before his family. Several members of Leri's family proudly wear Georgian Armed forces uniforms and defend their country. The Georgian Army is strong and is full of dignity as never before. They are not anyhow afraid of the enemy.

I want to express a special respect to an unknown Georgian warrior that we heard of from Russian media. This boy refused to adhere to the order, leave Tskhinvali; he stayed in the building, he supplied himself with ammunition, for four days running was resisting the enemy in the conditions of fire and destroyed many targets. After four days, when everything ended his gun stopped and his live was over. Such Georgians are born here. We couldn't identify him. But we will never forget those people, who sacrificed their lives for our existence, future and freedom.

Together with them we will never forget our peaceful population, who were shot by the aggressors.

I know that you will never forget them. I want the whole world to hear their names and their personal histories.

Let's never forget Vasil Mekarishvili and Ervandi Bejanishvili.

On August 10, the Russian occupants invaded village Dvani, started to rob and burn the village. Under their pressure they urged the Georgians to leave their houses. Vasil Mekarishvili and Ervandi Bejanishvili refused to leave their houses and were shot in front of their houses publicly.


Only because they were Georgians.

I remember Ilia Tkhlashidze.

On August 13, a day after President Medvedev signed the six-point cease-fire agreement, the Russian units intervened village Avnevi.

Those, who couldn't leave their houses on time were caught, beaten and tortured. An old man Ilia Tkhlashidze was among them who didn't flee and leave his house. He was caught and shot in the street. As one of the Russian soldiers said, this should be an example for the others.

An example...

What example are we speaking about?!

I asked the whole world - what example was this, if not barbaric ethnic cleansing?! We all condemn it in words, but very often do not wish to see reality.

I remember Olia Khaladze.

On August 25, after 13 days of signing a cease-fire agreement, the Russian army intervened the village Megvrekisi.

They dragged a 60-year-old Olia Kasradze out of her house, she was wounded and couldn't move.

They dropped her into the water canal, under the threat of the gun, they didn't allow anyone to save her, and made them watch how she was drowning.

My dear people, don't you think this is a crime against the world?

I remember all the victims of this crime... I remember and this is why we all know very well what we are fighting against.

We are fighting against false, harsh and totally dishonored force!

Georgia is on the front line and we got the first hit of the imperialism.

We are fighting against our occupation, against ethnic cleansing, we are fighting for our freedom and the freedom of those who are threatened by this new empire.

We are fighting those who kills innocent, peaceful people; those who without any reason shot Nugzar Akhalkatsi, Nano Bbautsadze-Mindiashvili, Ervand Berdzenishvili, Marina Gogiashvili, Alvina Melanashvili, Solomon Mchedlidze, Maia Vazagashvili and many, many more...

Which century do we live in?

On which continent do we live?

Is ethnic cleansing allowed in 21 century?

Today the whole Georgian nation honors all those people, who were forced by the occupants to leave their houses, their towns and villages. We will always remember those hundreds of thousands refugees from 90-ies and hundreds of thousands refugees since the last year.

I always think about these people, the people of different ethnic origins and religions, who were urged to leave their own houses.

I am thinking of Alina Abaeva.

Alina is an ethnic Ossetian, she is the citizen of Georgia, she was kicked out of her home and cannot return.

Alina is the symbol of the Georgia that we wish to build.

I think of Alan Farastaev and Dimitry Sanakeov, who are real Ossetians. They express the pride and dignity of the Ossetian people, like the other ethnic Ossetians. They know for sure, that the only way to maintain this pride and dignity is a peaceful way together with Georgia - the homeland of King Tamar and David.

These are the people who were fighting against the Georgian government, but as soon as they had to choose between - physical existence, dignity and the independence of Georgia, they found their place in multi-ethnic Georgian society that will defend the rights of their fellow citizens.

This is why they were followed, caught, tortured. They have experienced several terrorists' attacks. They were trying their liquidation. I know that Alan Parastaev was locked in the prison of Tskhinvali for several years. He was the great patriot of Ossetian people, he was an excellent lawyer, he was tortured several times, his kidney was damaged and he was on the edge of the death several times.

They are IDPs today as well. They are IDPs from their own homes, their own towns. They are IDPs because the ideas of unity and peace.

Alina Abaeva, Alan Parastaev and Dimitri Sanakoev are the faces of Georgia that we all are dreaming about. In Georgia people of different ethnicities live together in harmony. No one will be judged for its nationality, religion or political views.

But today Alina cannot go back to her home.

She cannot go because a wall has been built that doesn't give her a chance to return - this is a wall in our country, built by another country.

How is it possible that after 20 years of destroying the Berlin wall the same people build another Berlin wall in Europe. These people when everyone in the world was celebrating this event suffered greatly. How is it possible that the very person who was sent on business to the divided Germany today issues an order for the construction of a new wall.

My dear fellow citizens, we know who and what against we have to fight.

But our strength is in realizing very well what we are fighting for.

Despite of all political, religion or social differences we are fighting for united, free and democratic Georgia.

Today, when we stand to respect the memory of our fellow citizens that fell dead last Summer, I want to call on all Georgian citizens: Let's get united! Let's get united for free and independent Georgia!

I cannot close eyes on our differences, I do not avoid opposition and the plurality of views. On the contrary, diversity of opinions, pluralism and opposition is very important for our development.

But when our national and state existence is under the question mark there comes time for unity.

As Iakob Gogebashvili used to tell us: "Separation of the Georgian parts was real poison for our nation, unity was real medication".

Unity is our only medication.

Our strength is in our unity!

I don't say that we are all alike, but one common aim unites us against the occupants: free Georgia!

I don't say that all of us have to share common ideas about constitutional, economic policy, judicial system or social issues.

But I want to say, that all the Georgian citizens, despite of their political, ethnic, religious or social origin are united by the love for their country and our major ideals are: freedom, peace and independence.

I don't say that we all support our government, but I do want to say that we all respect the memory of our heroes such as - Aleksandre Oniani and Zaza Damenia.

Our tears and our hope is what unites us today and will unite tomorrow.

And this unity will bring us to the final victory.

Georgia's victory is inevitable.

The fact that Georgia is becoming healthier is an important victory. A couple of days ago in a very important European newspaper "FT" there was an article published in which there was said: "Georgia wins peace".

This is exactly what we are doing now and we are going to continue it in order to win peace. We want to defeat occupants, but not by war. Of course no.

We want to defeat occupants by peace, by development of our democratic institutions, by permanently developing economy, by getting closer to Europe, we will offer every Georgian child the better perspective.

We want peace, because we win by peace. We can achieve peace by peace only. We can reach our aims by peace only.

Our nation has so much experience after so much misfortune that we know the price of construction very well. We are building nation, compare to those nations who destroy other countries.

This is why today I call on the whole free world, all our friends: please help us in defending peace. Please help us to prevent another intervention in Georgia. To urge occupants step backward. If peace is maintained in Georgia we will surprise the world by the tempo that the Georgia is developing with.

My dear fellow citizens, the difference from the first republic lies in the fact - Georgia today has very strong allies, who help us to reach our goal. We are not alone let's thank them for this.

With the assistance of our friends, Russia is in the position of diplomatic defeat. All the countries in the world expressed their devotion towards territorial integrity of Georgia.

Even those counties that were considered the Russian satellites either naturally or pretty often by force expressed the same attitudes.

With the help of our western friends our way to EU and NATO is more open now than ever.

We are right and we are not alone. Our way is right. The values that we defend are true. Let's never forget this.

My dear people,

we stood a full-scale intervention. We stood and didn't brake as a free and proud nation.

Our present is hard, but we write our future.

Our future is not written in a foreign country, which is not friendly to us in its far away cold capital.

Our present is hard, but we write our future in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Poti, Rustavi, Akhalkalaki, and what's most important here in this hero town - Gori.

Our fortune belongs to us.

I want to call on all of you: let's together write our future and not allow anyone to make decisions, define our future and our priorities. Let's together continue the construction of our country.

Let's get united and we will gain a victory!

Let's get united and the new walls will be destroyed the way all the old walls were destroyed.

Let's get united and defend the major treasure of Georgia - our freedom!

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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