President Saakashvili said in his live televised address to the nation this evening: “Our future and liberty is under attack… This is war and we have losses, but the enemy has even more serous losses… We will defend our freedom, our homeland to the last drop of blood.”
Below is the transcript of the Saakashvili’s address:
Dear compatriots! In this very important, decisive and difficult period for our country, I want to describe the current situation and tell you about the ways of helping the country out of this situation.
First of all, I want to tell you that what is happening now against Georgia is obviously a military intervention planned months or years ago, which aims, at least, to occupy or annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and as a final result, to occupy entire Georgia.
That intervention force, which entered Georgia, is very big, very serious and of course, it contains a fatal threat to Georgian statehood. Today the freedom and future of each of us is under huge threat. An attempt of repeated occupation and enslavement of Georgia, depriving our country of its independence is underway. No doubt that it is real, against the background of the latest statements. If previously they said that they responded to the operation launched by us in South Ossetia – and you know that we have not launched anything until the last minute – yesterday and the day before yesterday official statements were made that the operation aimed at changing the Georgian authorities, changing Georgia’s course. It is translated from their language as the end to Georgia’s independence. Attacks are carried out against the Kodori gorge in Upper Abkhazia, attacks are carried in the direction of Abkhazia and Samegrelo. Yesterday there was an attempt to occupy Gori, which was repelled by our armed forces. I want to say that our armed forces are fighting very well. Their morale is increasing. Of course, I regret greatly and this is war. Of course, we have casualties, but our enemies have much more casualties. I declare this based on their sources. But this is a very serious test and in reality the success of our forces is based on their unimaginable heroism. Our enemies did not expect – and they themselves said this in an official statement that they came across the resistance of the Georgian armed forces which was 12 fold more than they imagined.
But I want to say with full responsibility that we want to immediately end this military confrontation, we want to end the war, which we have not launched, we want to stop Russia’s intervention. We are ready and I have confirmed my support to the plan of French President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner. Kouchner was here; President Sarkozy will arrive tomorrow. We are ready to immediately sign an agreement on ceasefire and non-resumption of confrontation.
We are expecting the visits of several European leaders, tomorrow. As I already said, President Sarkozy will arrive. Many European ministers are presently visiting Georgia. Today a great amount of humanitarian aid will start arriving from the entire world. The first planes from France will land within two hours and others will arrive afterwards, including from Turkey, Ukraine, Germany, Denmark, other European states.
I want to tell those people, who have left the conflict zone – we will return you all and until this conflict is over, I gave the strictest instructions, not to leave even one person without attention. I want to say that of course, there was chaos within the first hours, we were not prepared for it and they attacked us treacherously. If you remember, I was constantly increasing the military budget and many used to say, why he is doing that - just for this occasion, for this unfortunate day. We failed to increase it as much as I wanted.
It is not worth saying but if we had not lost time on inner confrontation last autumn, we would have been much better prepared. But today we are well-prepared and we have the motivation to defend our country, to save the independence and statehood of our country, to save the future of each of us, to give a proper response to our enemies.
I want to say with full responsibility, we should save our country ourselves. Nobody else will be able to do it. Of course, international support is important, international diplomatic involvement is decisive, but if we are not very mobilized, if we do not show heroism, if we do not resist this huge brutal force, without our dedication Georgia will not be able to stop this confrontation.
All what is happening now – bombings, especially those of civilian facilities, at night, shelling - has the only objective, to demoralize our society, to seed panic in the society. I want to thank everybody, those tens of thousands of Tbilisites, who came out in the streets last night and expressed their huge support towards Georgian statehood. I want to thank those people – I traveled from the east to the west and back – although Russian aircraft were flying above us and although the highway was shelled during our movement, I saw Georgian national flags flying on cars and I saw Georgian flags flying on balconies - this is our response, our unity, our bravery, our endurance, and we will certainly liberate the entire Georgia. This is what is happening now, this is Georgia’s struggle for national liberation, this is a response to the war imposed on Georgia, a response by the Georgian society’s resistance, the Georgian society’s heroism in order to maintain liberty, statehood, and the future of our children. The officials of foreign countries should never define the future of our children. The future of our children and our country should be ruled by the democratic government elected by the Georgian society, which will act in the interests of the people, in the interests of multi-ethnic society, and will never dance to other’s tune and the time will never come, when we clean the shoes of foreign officials. We helped Georgia up from its knees within the last few years. We should not allow anybody to make us kneel again. Georgia should find its way out of this situation. Georgia should manage to restore peace and to establish good relations, including with Russians, who attacked us.
I also want to address the Russian public – of course, all media outlets are blocked now, but information is leaking out – we do not fight with the Russian people. We are not angry with the Russian society. Much injustice has been carried out against Georgia, against each Georgian. But the time will come - I am sure - when we will have very good relations again. But we will defend the freedom of our country, the independence of our country – with our teeth, to the last drop of blood. God bless each of us. God bless the freedom of Georgia. God bless our soldiers, our heroes. Long live Georgia.