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President Saakashvili's Inauguration Speech
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Jan.'04 / 17:44

Official translation of the speech delivered by Mikheil Saakashvili after he was sworn-in as Georgia’s new President for a five-year term on January 25, 2004 outside the Parliament building in Tbilisi.

I would like to greet Kartli, Kakheti, Imereti, Mengrelia, Guria, Abkhasia, Adjara, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Ratcha, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Shida Kartli.

I would like to greet all of Georgia and all Georgians residing abroad. I would like to greet all guests who arrived here today.

This is the very place where the brave Georgian heroes sacrificed their lives for the freedom and independence of Georgia. The cadets, who did their best to defend the homeland from the Bolshevik invasion, have fallen here. Heroes, fighting for the independence of Georgia have been slain here on April 9, 1989. Soviet army and tanks brutally suppressed them on this very spot. I would like to ask you to pay tribute to their memory by preserving silence for fifteen seconds.

These young people sacrificed their lives for their dream. Today it is our obligation to make this dream come true. We can materialize this vision by transforming Georgia into united, stable, democratic, independent and powerful state. From Tsiteli Khidi (Red Bridge) to river Psou, form Sarpi to Daryali, Georgia must become a state, wherein the knowledge and education becomes the most precious fortune; wherein the education of our children becomes the highest priority; wherein the people become competitive against the background of globalization, which includes dangers, but at the same time gives unique chance to the small nations, possessing abilities, education, culture, fighting spirit, to take their respective place in the world community.

Georgia is the country of unique culture. We are not only old Europeans, we are the very first Europeans, and therefore Georgia holds special place in European civilization. Georgia should serve as a paragon for democracy where all citizens are equal before the law, where every citizen will have an equal opportunity for the pursuit of success and realization of his or her possibilities. Georgia should become and will become a homeland for independent, educated and proud people.

Georgia is home not only for all Georgians, but also for all ethnic minorities, residing in Georgia. Every citizen, who considers Georgia as its homeland, be they Russian, Abkhasian, Osetian, Azerbaijanian, Armenian, Jewish, Greek, Ukrainian, Kurd - is our greatest wealth and treasure.

Georgia must have an efficient government, responsible before the people; a government, where every citizen is represented and heed is paid to every citizen's opinion. The people listened to government so far, now it is time for the government to listen to people very attentively. The government has defended itself from the people before. Now it is time for the government to defend its own people and each individual citizen. The people have been punished by the impotency of the government so far, and we have recently proved on this very square, that the moment appears when the people punish the government for its impotency and lack of patriotism.

Georgian nation has always been an intelligent nation. Today we need the intellect more than ever. Neither oil nor gold, but our talent, our intellect, our abilities, our education and educated people represent our most precious wealth. Georgia must become a country, which will learn how to use its natural advantages. We possess economic potential and skillful labor force, who can work, who are not afraid of labor, who are keen on working when the work is interesting and when they have such opportunity.

We have key geostrategical location. We are the cultural crossroads, where cultures get together and we possess unique, breathtaking nature. I have never met any foreigner who has visited Georgia even only once, and has not fallen in love with our homeland at first sight. These are abundant and useful resources and we will activate these resources by all means, to make society firmly stand on its feet, to cope with our hardships, because hardship and poverty are an insult for Georgian nation and its history, for its culture, for every person, for every member of society.

Our nation has proved to the whole world, that it is always able to defend its dignity during crucial moments, able to coexist with dignity and participate in friendly completion with leading nations. The time has come when Georgians should not depend only on others; the time has come when we should no longer ask what the world does for us, how it helps us, what assistance it allocates, though of course we are very grateful for all this, but the time has come when we should ask, what will Georgia will do for the world and what contribution it can make in the world progress.

Georgia will be stable ally for all friendly states. Georgia should be formed as the state assuming international responsibility, as the dignified member of international community, as the state, which regardless the highly complicated geopolitical situation and location, has equally benign relations with all its neighbors, and at the same time does not forget to take its own place in European family, in European civilization, the place lost several centuries ago. As an ancient Christian state, we should take this place again. Our direction is towards European integration. It is time for Europe finally to see and appreciate Georgia and undertake steps towards us. And first signs of these are already evident. Today, we have not raised European flag by accident - this flag is Georgian flag as well, as far as it embodies our civilization, our culture, essence of our history and perspective, and vision of our future.

At the same time, we are grateful and appreciate the help, rendered by the United States for years, when Georgia faced the most acute hardship; when we were in the most desperate need for a friend, the United States backed us. This will never fade from our memories and Georgian people will pass this sense of gratitude to the next generations, like the Europeans, assisted by the Americans during World War II, did after the war.

At the same time we have very fine relations with our neighbors and we would like to have very good relations with Russia. Georgia does not need Russia as a foe; we need Russia as a friend. We need Russia as an ally, as a powerful partner and today I would like to offer a friendly hand to Russia on behalf of the Georgian people and I wish to see the formation and progress of this friendship.

Great barriers lie ahead. Georgia will have to overcome huge obstacles to achieve our goals. We have to revive our country together, and build the Georgia of our and our ancestors' dreams. Georgia was powerful when it was united. We have to unite in order to grow stronger; we have to build a powerful democracy based on the protection of human rights and the supremacy of law; we have to eradicate corruption. At the current stage each corrupted official is a traitor to state interests in my opinion. We will root out the corruption and change the system that gave birth to the malignant circle of corruption.

We should create a judicial system wherein each person starting with the president and ending with an ordinary citizen, will be equally responsible before the law. We will carry out reform of the government and establish real self-governance. We must carry out the reform of governance, where every professional, honest, motivated person will find their place and will be able to participate in the state building process.

We must create a powerful army. Yesterday and today I visited military units, we have to do much in this sphere. We have to revive the Georgian chivalrous spirit, which made it possible for us to endure all these centuries. In this sphere, we have to revive the traditions of David the Builder, Giorgi the Brilliant, three hundred Aragvelis, the heroes of the Didgori battle and other heroes. Otherwise Georgia cannot stand on its own feet as a state, and armed forces need care not only from the president and the government, but also from each Georgian family. It is a matter of dignity for every Georgian family to help our armed forces and create a potent Georgian army.

I would like to place particular emphasis on the selflessness and calm transition undertaken by the interim government in recent months. I would like to express my gratitude towards Nino Burdjanadze, who conducted this process very well. Despite the pessimistic forecasts, despite talk about the inability of the new authorities to control the situation, we have managed to control the situation and succeed in the establishment of stability, and I would like to express my gratitude to every person, every representative of state apparatus and every citizen, who helped us in this endeavor.

I believe in this new, educated, active and patriotic generation, coming to power as a coherent group and at the same time I think that all generations, including the generations of my grandparents and of my parents still have the opportunity to make their own contribution in state development and transgenerational bridge should crush down under no circumstances. The unification of this bridge is one of the main guarantees for the success of the new generation.

I am becoming the president of these proud people, the people who look towards the future with hope, who long for the Georgia of our dreams, for Georgia of my dreams and I am ready to serve these people in order to make them more proud; in order to justify everybody's hopes and together build a Georgia we dream about and our ancestors dreamt about. Now it is the time for toilsome work. Nothing will be done in one day, president alone cannot achieve everything, but if the people, all of us, labor together day and night, we will really achieve very serious success. I am sure of this, but this requires hard work, huge enthusiasm and great optimism.

Recent events have released an energy of immense proportions, which is kept in the Georgian nation, and enormous hope as well. Today like never before, the spark of hope discernible in the eyes of every Georgian should turn into a positive energy, positive energy for our children, in order to create much better Georgia for them, and they are looking at us with eyes full of hope. Let's look into the eyes of our children and find out what they are expecting from us and how disastrous and bad it would be for us to undermine their trust in us.

Today I am becoming president of Georgia. I am dedicating my presidency to the heroes who have fallen for the independence of Georgia; I am dedicating my presidency to every poor man of Georgia; I am dedicating my presidency to the next generations, to the dreams they cherish and to the materialization of these dreams. I am dedicating my presidency to the unification and strengthening of Georgia.

God bless Georgia, our homeland!

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