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Saakashvili Speaks of Russia’s ‘Strategic Mistake’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Aug.'08 / 21:42

Saakashvili said in a televised address to the nation:
 We should remain calm and maintain unity;
 Now it is up to the west to respond;
• Revival of Russia’s imperialism ended in Georgia;
• Georgia’s NATO integration should be accelerated;

President Saakashvili said in a televised address to the nation on August 26 that Russia had made “unimaginable strategic mistakes” and now it was up to western powers to respond. He said Georgia only had to respond by “maintaining calm and unity.”

Saakashvili’s televised address came hours after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence. Saakashvili said it was “outrageous unlawfulness.”

“I want everyone to understand one thing: today’s Russian step is totally illegal, with no legal consequences either for Georgia or the rest of the world,” he said.

In his 20-minute address, Saakashvili focused on, as he put it, the importance of the international support that Georgia had gained following the crisis.

“Today, yesterday and in recent weeks, Russia made unimaginable strategic mistakes and struck an unimaginable blow to its place in the international community and in the history of the contemporary world,” he said. “Now Georgia has gained huge international support and solidarity from all over the world and support for our territorial integrity, and we would have failed to gain such huge support, even if we had tried for 200 years, if not for the mistakes made by Russia.”

“The end of the revival of Russia’s imperialism has started today in Georgia,” Saakashvili added.

He said that if until now Georgia had failed to convince the entire international community that Russia “is not a peace-loving country” and that Russia was part of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, following Russia’s “strategic mistakes,” Georgia has now managed to make the issue one of international importance.

“Now the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity and the protection of Georgia’s independence are no longer matters for only Georgia or Georgian-Russian relations; they are matters for Russia and the rest of the civilized world,” he said.

“Russia with this outrageous challenge to the international order, something that no one had dared do in Europe since Stalin and Hitler, will receive a response from Europe and the rest of the free world, which very well remembers the very bitter lessons of history.”

“Our goal today is to maintain our statehood, unity, calmness and heroic peaceful resistance, as well as our development,” he continued.

Saakashvili said that he had already asked western leaders to “accelerate [Georgia’s] integration into NATO in order to prevent a reoccurrence of past mistakes” as well as to accelerate Georgia’s integration into the EU.

“We already have the first serious signals in this regard from our European and Trans-Atlantic partners,” he continued. “We have already received several very serious promises and concrete programs on Georgia’s economic revival and the strengthening of Georgia’s security. Not only will Georgia’s economy be stronger, but its security will also be strengthened.”

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