While visiting the newly built Senaki military base in western Georgia, U.S. Senator John McCain thanked Georgian servicemen for their contribution to the peacekeeping operation in Iraq and said that Georgia is the United States’ “best friend.”
He said that someday the Iraqi people “will know freedom and democracy, and if they do it will be because of your service and sacrifice.”
“Someday the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will also know what it is like to live in a free nation,” Senator McCain said.
“We thank you for the brave and courageous leadership of your President, who has done such a magnificent job in bringing your nation into the 21st century. Again on a behalf of President Bush, the United States Congress and the American people, we thank you; you are America’s best friends,” he added.
A group of U.S. Senators who are visiting Georgia from August 26-29, traveled to the Senaki military base together with President Saakashvili.
“You [Georgian servicemen] are descendants of those Georgians who won the Didgori battle [in the XII century, after which Georgia was united]; you are descendants of those Georgians who, although they were defeated by the Bolsheviks, fought to the end; you are Georgians who will never be defeated again, because we know what it means to have our own free state, what it means to have strong friends and to have strong armed forces,” McCain said.
President Saakashvili also said that “our friend” Senator McCain will celebrate his 70th birhtday on August 29, “and I want to present to him this Georgian sword as a sign of our unity.”
A group of U.S. Senators and President Saakashvili have been touring the Georgian regions since August 27. They have already visited the town of Mtskheta, the Adjara Autonomous Republic, and Svaneti, the high mountainous region in the north-west of Georgia.
On August 28 Georgian television stations broadcasted footage showing Senator McCain and President Saakashvili dancing together with a local folk group in Svaneti.