President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili layed the foundation of Batumi air traffic control tower construction

By the spring of next year we are planning to double the construction works on this seashore. Thousands of people will be employed here. Thousands of families who fight with hardship and poverty now will have income, will be given hope and future.

Today it's the Independence Day of Georgia and I want to welcome all Georgia.

I wish to welcome every Georgian and every citizen of various ethnic origins despite of their views and occupation, age and social standing, because we are children of one country.

I want to welcome those people who used this day to express their protest and anger in the center of Tbilisi. I pretty well understand the problems of these people and their motivation.

Of course, I may not agree with some political leaders and the behavior of some of them may be absolutely unacceptable, but everybody should know one thing - we may not agree with each other in political views but we all love our country. We all, except for some betrayers, want Georgia to stand on its feet and Georgia to become united and successful.

I wish to start the construction of this torch, which will become the symbol of our country and our Black-Sea coast and will be as important for Georgia as Eiffel Tower is for Paris. It will be like some European skyscrapers and we call it "Freedom Torch".

We have investors who will build it and the government will participate in it.

This building will be seen from Georgia's gate and I am sure from various corners of our country, among them from Abkhazia. This will be a symbol of united and free Georgia and the symbol of this irreversible freedom.

I am holding a document where it is written with black letters on white paper:

"Today on May 26, 2009, on the Independence Day of Georgia in Batumi we are laying the foundation of construction of Freedom Torch as a sign of our devotion to our country's ideals of freedom.

I am signing this document and want to add that despite of huge challenges, no matter how big our problems are and how large the economic crisis is - the revival of Georgia will not stop even for a day. We must use every chance - even the world economic crisis to build much and not only give people jobs, but create a real basis for their future.

As a message I want to sign this document today together with you.

We are as well starting the construction of a new Batumi boulevard and this will give a chance to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Our aim - by 2011 the seacoast in Ajaria to host 2 million tourists - will be achieved for sure. 2 million tourists means that there will be 9 tourists per person. This in its turn means that there will be 9 times more income, and not only advertisements for our country, but strengthening their families as well.

We are laying the foundation of it all today!

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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