Visiting Republican Senator, John McCain, said in Batumi on January 11, that Georgia and the United States were “confronted by common challenges” and remained bound by common interests and democratic values.
John McCain arrived in Georgia with two other Republican Senators, John Barrasso and John Thune. Before meeting with President Saakashvili, the delegation met in Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Republic, with some opposition leaders, including Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party, part of Alliance for Georgia; MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of parliamentary minority and Levan Gachechiladze, a co-founder of public movement Defend Georgia.
President Saakashvili said after meeting with the U.S. senators that John McCain was Georgia long-time and firm supporter and awarded him with Georgia’s highest state honor of National Hero.
Saakashvili said that during the August, 2008 war “some friends of ours were telling us to sign under every condition put forth by Putin [Russia’s PM] otherwise we would have faced the threat of physical extermination.”
“They were telling us to stop resistance… Lot’s of well-known world figures were calling me with this [message],” Saakashvili said.
He said that when John McCain, who at that time was a presidential candidate, called him and told him “not to surrender and not to say no to freedom.”
“He told me: ‘we will stand by Georgia and we all be Georgians’,” Saakashvili said. “Senator McCain abandoned his presidential campaign and was defending Georgia on international TV channels… We should never forget it.”
“Of all the honors I’ve received in my life the National Hero Award is among the most meaningful and it is one that I would cherish for ever,” Senator McCain said in Batumi.
He said that this award was an expression of “friendship between two leaders – myself and President Saakashvili.” He also added that it was much more than that and it was an expression of “partnership and solidarity between our two nations.”
“Nations confronted by common challenges, bound by common interests and united by common democratic values, individual liberty, an equal justice, human rights and human dignity,” Senator McCain added.
“These convictions join our nations in a friendship that is greater than any one leader, greater than any one government, greater than events of today and tomorrow. Our friendship is as enduring as our fidelity to the indivisible values that we share,” he said.
Also on January 11, Senator McCain traveled to town of Zugdidi at breakaway Abkhazia’s administrative border where he visited a local field office of EU Monitoring Mission and met with head of the mission Hansjörg Haber.