Address by the President of Georgia during the self-governance session in Strasbourg



Mr. Mayor,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It is a great honor for me to address you today.

I have been coming to Strasbourg with the greatest pleasure since 1991. I was a student back then, and it was a time when my country had just escaped communism. I came to Strasbourg in order to continue my education at Rene Cassin.

Living in Strasbourg changed my life importantly.

Here I was able to touch the European dream with my hands which shaped my entire political life – beginning from the fight against an authoritarian corrupt regime, and ending by being President of a country.

I met an extraordinary Dutch girl in Strasbourg, Sandra Roelofs, who became my wife. I remember the time when I went bicycling with her in the streets of this old city and tried to win her heart.

It is obvious that I did not come here to talk about this today, however, thanks to these memories I will remain a Strasburgian at heart for all my life.

I came here today to thank all of you for the respect that was given to my country. I would especially like to thank Mr. Mayor Roland Reis, who offered Georgia to host the most ancient and prestigious market in Europe.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for Georgia. We are given a chance to familiarize you with our culture, which was part of the European culture for millennia; also with our traditions and to show the local residents and millions of guests, who come here annually, Georgia’s future wishes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For every person, who believes in the Europe project like us, Strasbourg is more than an important city of France.

Strasbourg is the heart of this project and its symbol. Despite the crisis, it is a city of big political changes. European integration, returning to the family of democratic and free nations of Europe, which Georgia would have never left if not the soviet occupation, is the top priority of the Georgian population, despite its political beliefs and social and religious differences.

This is exactly the idea that we have followed since the Rose Revolution in 2003, when we transformed our country social-politically and mentally.

Every implemented reform by us, which was welcomed by international organizations as a unique occurrence for the region, aimed at transforming the authoritarian post-soviet republic into a dynamic European type of open state.

Despite the political orientation of the Parliamentary majority, which has recently changed in Georgia, just as it happens in other European countries, nothing can resist European enthusiasm of our nation and its desire and aspiration to join Europe.

I know that the crisis forms some suspicions in the population of Europe; I know that the European Union is being criticized; I know that certain suspicions arise here just like on the entire continent.

But I came here as a bearer of hope and faith; Europe is the future of all of us.

I would like to invite you to our country so that you see our country and become convinced in how big the European ideal is today; like never before! How it unifies the dreams and energy of peoples who live around the European Union.

I cannot see a project in the entire world which would have such attractiveness and I am sure that this kind of project will not exist in tomorrow’s world as well.

Dear Friends,

France was a friendly state to our nation since the time of missionaries.

France proved this in recent times, namely in 2008, when Georgia’s existence as a state was under question while Russian tanks were getting closer to our capital Tbilisi.

France proves that every day when it supports Georgia’s European and Euro Atlantic course.

There is no more symbolic and heartfelt place than Strasbourg, France for us. This is a city which lived through many bloody battles before it became a symbol of freedom and peace on our continent.

Each European thinks of Strasbourg as their capital to a certain extent, and also we as a European nation feel at home in Strasbourg.

Thank you.