Speech delivered by President Mikheil Saakashvili at George Washington University

Mr. President, our last meeting took place in 1995. Then, I was a young man.

It's a great honor for me to be here, among you - I had left part of my hart at this wonderful school.

I am the very person who had a brilliant chance to study in the core of the US capitol - in this great school.

I am one of you.

I have been flying for 16 hours in order to visit George Washington University and I have such a great honor to be here now.

I have kept all the letters and presents I had received here, the card given to me by my dean.

After I went back to Georgia I started working at the Parliament of Georgia and left behind my past - the years I spent here, my books.

Trust me, I still feel nostalgic (for the University).

Now I am here to meet my teachers, professors who have done so much for me.

I have come here to meet my professor, a very qualified judge at the International Court, who is very successful at human rights sphere.

Before I had left for Georgia I told him that the very moment I get back to my country I would apply my knowledge and would actively participate in political activities.

The professor got very interested and asked me to write a paper about Georgia and provide him with the information about the ongoing events there.

When he got closely acquainted with the difficult situation in Georgia he came up with an idea, saying that if I was determined to go back to Georgia it would have been great if I could formulate my concept and create a model of a new state, scientifically analyze everything that I would plan to do in future - describe the existing crisis and work out all the possible versions for their solution.

Now, the young politicians, public administrators, those who received education abroad try to utilize their knowledge - it mainly concerns implementing fundamental reforms in this or that sphere.

I perceive this fact to be a significant progress in the statecraft.

Those who desire the reforms to be carried out successfully should know and remember that they should never search for compromises at the expense of the country's interests and neither should give up their own stand.

Otherwise it's not worse to talk about achievements.

Our people are ready for fundamental reforms. The geopolitical location makes Georgia a strategically important country, but since I am here I understood that it's not only geopolitics, transportation and economic projects or the issues of defense and security that are important for us, but the values that the advanced countries of the world have and that I have been using as a guide during these years are of central importance.

The reason I came here is to ask for your support.

People actively participated in the parliamentary elections of November 2, 2003, but their expectations were not met - the government in the office rigged the elections.

The problem is that the presidents in Georgia and the countries like it are not able to determine when to step down from their presidency.

It was inconceivable for the ex-president Eduard Shevardnadze and his government that one day they could be overthrown. But it did really happen. People tired of injustice, decided to unite. Nothing could resist to that protest.

Neither police nor army was under government's subordination. What happened in Georgia was a real miracle. Georgian nation has proved the strength is in unity.

The world's leading media covered the events in Georgia and today we have become an example to the whole world.

I would like to talk about globalization. It brings nations together, including us, and leads them towards development but at the same time it holds some sensitive issues.

In some cases our power would be diminished, but for such a small nation like Georgian nation, it gives great opportunities.

If you wish to be competitive, to safeguard your future, then you have a chance to develop in this big globalized world.

The reforms we are implementing at the moment would have been impossible without the tendencies of the globalization.

If not the modern means of communication, the main source by which we got in touch with each other, I could not even imagine the revolution in Georgia.

CNN has contributed a lot by promptly delivering the latest footages of the ongoing events in Georgia.

I came here through Norway and Greenland. We stopped at a place where, as I was told, only 460 people lived.

The journalists who accompanied me could hide their surprise when some of the citizens recognized me.

This fact is good and bad at the same time. On one hand it limits my rights, as my private life does not remain unnoticeable. On the other hand it's very important, as people get much closer to each other.

We realize in a better way those values that are equally granted to Georgians, Greenlanders, Australians, Africans and Americans. This university carries the name of a man, who contributed a lot to the establishment and dissemination of these values all over the world. It's the matter of pride for all of us.

This contribution implies neither military intervention nor financial support to countries like Georgia.

This aid is usually good, important and timely, but at this moment I am talking about exporting this ideas and values worldwide. Probably "export" is not the right word, I would rather say - "to share with each other."

For new democracies it is absolutely necessary that new people with modern mindset and experience would come to power, open-minded people, free of clichs and complexes.

Now we have the team who thinks the way I do. I discussed it with the US Secretary of State Colin Powell during my inauguration.

During my visit to Davos at the World Economic Forum, the China television shoot an hour and a half long film on me following me everywhere to record the interviews. But I was giving interviews to the channels I was interested in: BBC, CNN, etc. The Chinese could not understand why I was doing so; they told me all the television companies were small, while 740 million people were watching their one.

But its not important and I am not showing off.

I am proud to be here and give a speech in this hall even if the audience of ten people is listening It's a great honor for me.

George Washington University is a cozy, comfortable and wonderful home and my visit here means returning to my home place.

Months spent here are the most remarkable and valuable period in my life.

Thank you very much for coming and for your warm welcome.

Thank you.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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