President Saakashvili addresses the 2006 Vilnius Conference

Today President Mikheil Saakashvili, who left for Vilnius yesterday, made an address at an international forum "Vilnius Conference 2006: Common Vision for Common Neighbourhood". 
President Saakashvili in his address particularly underscored the issues associated with "The Problems and Prospects of Consolidating Democracy in Eastern Europe". He reconfirmed that Georgia seriously considers the issue of leaving the Commonwealth of Independent States, stressing that Lithuania is a perfect example of the fact that Georgia can survive even without CIS. 

"The most serious question for us is whether it is worth to be the member of the organization which does not benefit us at all. We are not going to make a decision without thinking through it properly. We will measure all the positive and negative sides and only after that we will take a decision [...]. CIS forums are becoming less and less important. There are few issues that can be discussed at those forums. At the same time the chairman of the organization does not change. Therefore, we are not allowed to defend our position," President Saakashvili stated. 

According to Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia has concluded many agreements on free trade and non-visa regime, while Russia, which is the chairman of the CIS, has the strictest visa regime, even stricter than in the EU countries. 

"The freedom wave which started from Tbilisi is being threatened. Somebody is sitting still and somebody is promoting this threat. If the political forces in Moscow destroy our democratic values, all of us will face a common threat. This challenge rings an alarm bell for Europe. We seriously conceive of the future of the CIS, since it has become a closed organization. Georgia tries to determine in what direction it should cooperate with this organization. We should acknowledge that without fighting we would not be able to obtain freedom and democracy. We are setting up a common democratic order - some will integrate into NATO, some into the EU. It might be a remote perspective for us, but the most important thing is that we are part of Europe. Despite hardships Georgia strives towards European values," President Saakashvili said. 

The US Vice President Dick Cheney also made an address at the forum and while talking about Georgia and Ukraine he stated that the US claims support to the revolutionary governments. 

"The freedom movement is far from over, and far from tired. And we still live in a time of heroes. From Freedom Square in Tbilisi, to Independence Square in Kyiv, and beyond, patriots have stepped forward to claim their just inheritance of liberty and independence. They have taken on tremendous duties. And they have earned the respect of a watching world.

Nations have produced great revolutions and have great tasks ahead of them, and one can hardly overstate the difficulties facing this new generation of leaders. The Republic of Georgia, in President Saakashvili's words, "started from hopelessness, despair, injustice, absence of electricity, absence of salaries and pensions and absence of the public order. We started from a point at which countries and nations usually cease to exist. 

The spread of democracy is an unfolding of history; it is a benefit to all, and a threat to none. The best neighbor a country can have is a democracy - stable, peaceful, and open to relations of commerce and cooperation instead of suspicion and fear. The nations of the West have produced the most prosperous, tolerant system ever known. And because that system embraces the hopes and dreams of all humanity, it has changed our world for the better. We can and should build upon that successful record. The system that has brought such great hope to the shores of the Baltic can bring the same hope to the far shores of the Black Sea, and beyond. What is true in Vilnius is also true in Tbilisi and Kyiv, and true in Minsk, and true in Moscow.

All of us are committed to democratic progress in Belarus. That nation has suffered in major wars and experienced terrible losses, and now its people are denied basic freedoms by the last dictatorship in Europe. With us today are democracy advocates from Belarus. [. . .] There is no place in a Europe whole and free for a regime of this kind. The people of Belarus deserve better. You have the right to determine your destiny. And your great nation has a future in the community of democracies," the US Vice President Dick Cheney said at the conference. 

A closed door meeting of the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the US Vice President Dick Cheney, which lasted for more than an hour, has already finished. After the meeting President Saakashvili and Dick Cheney briefed the press at which the Georgian President thanked the US for its support and assistance.


Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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