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Tbilisi Hails 'Great Friend' Sarkozy's Upcoming Visit
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Oct.'11 / 17:44

Planned visit to Tbilisi of French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is Georgia’s “great friend and well-wisher”, is of the utmost importance and Georgia hopes this visit will contribute to making “a huge progress” not only in bilateral relations, but also to the regional issues, Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Jalagania, said on Monday.

President Sarkozy will visit Georgia as part of his South Caucasus trip on October 7 and together with President Saakashvili make a public, outdoor speech on the Freedom Square.

Jalagania said that apart of bilateral cooperation, Russia’s non-compliance with its commitments under the six-point August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement, which was signed with President Sarkozy’s mediation, would be raised during the talks.

Some Georgian broadcasters launched airing a TV spot calling on the public to turn out on the Freedom Square on October 7 to listen to the French President’s planned outdoor speech.

Archive footage from Sarkozy’s August, 2008 visit to Georgia and pictures of the August war is accompanied by a man’s voice in the TV spot saying: “He’s one of the most influential political leaders in Europe. He stood beside Georgia during one of the most difficult time of [Georgia’s] history. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is again in Georgia. He is eager to once again reaffirm his support to Georgia… Everyone who is aware of the importance of Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Georgia in August, 2008; everyone who wants to see Georgia as a modern European state and who wants the demand on peaceful de-occupation to be heard to the world, we are waiting for you on the Freedom Square in order not to let anyone mute our nation’s voice and to let our voice be heard vocally in the world. On October 7 the Freedom Square will again be in a spotlight of the world media.”

President Sarkozy first visited Tbilisi on August 12, 2008, when his country held EU’s rotating presidency, after negotiating ceasefire terms with Russian leadership in Moscow. Upon arrival he was offered by the Georgian side to join then Polish President Lech Kaczynski, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and then Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis at a rally outside the Parliament, which had been called the previous day by President Saakashvili as an attempt to boost public moral in the face of invading Russian army. Ronald D. Asmus wrote in his book about war between Russia and Georgia, A Little War That Shook the World, that President Sarkozy turned down Saakashvili’s offer to address the rally outside the Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue, just next to the Freedom Square, “telling the Georgians that he had come not to give a speech but to end a war.”

President Sarkozy again visited Tbilisi in September, 2008 after traveling to Moscow when he was trying to clarify and specify some of the provisions of the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement; as a result a supplementary agreement of September 8, 2008 was produced.

Georgia repeatedly accuses Moscow of not fulfilling its commitments under the August 12 six-point ceasefire agreement, especially the one stipulating Russia to pull back its troops to the pre-war positions; after recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia considers that provision of the ceasefire as irrelevant, claiming “new reality” on the ground. Russia claims that with removal of its military checkpoint from the village of Perevi in October, 2010 the issue of its “alleged non-compliance” with Sarkozy-mediated ceasefire agreement has been “definitively closed” – the position Tbilisi condemns as “cynical.”

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