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Georgia Prepares for New President’s Inauguration
/ 23 Jan.'04 / 19:17
Tea Gularidze, Civil Georgia

Georgia will have new President and national
flag from January 25.
Mikhail Saakashvili will be sworn in as Georgia’s new president this weekend in the two-day long inauguration ceremonies on January 24-25.

The key events will be held on January 25, when Mikheil Saakashvili will take the presidential oath outside the Parliament building. On January 24 Mikheil Saakashvili will be blessed as a president by Catholicos Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II at the Gelati Cathedral in a western Georgian city of Kutaisi.

Along with the representatives of the OSCE, European Union and NATO, the delegations from 20 countries are expected to attend the inauguration ceremony on January 25. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will be among the guests.

The Georgian authorities say that the visit of Colin Powell marks the U.S. support to Georgia.  Following the visit to Georgia, Secretary Powell will travel to Russia, where, according to Mikheil Saakashvili, he will push the issue of closure of the Russian military bases in Georgia during the talks with the Russian leadership.

On January 22 Deputy Spokesman of the U.S. Department of State Adam Ereli once again reiterated that the United States is looking for Russia to fulfill “its Istanbul commitments over pullout of its military bases from the territory of Georgia.”

Ex-President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze, who was ousted as a result of the bloodless revolution, led by Mikheil Saakashvili, last November, will not attend the inauguration ceremony. He was not invited. On January 25 Eduard Shevardnadze will turn 76.

“This [inauguration of new president] will be Georgians’ birthday present to Shevardnadze,” Saakashvili said in one of his interviews in December.

Along with Tbilisi and Kutaisi, inauguration events will take place in Adjarian capital Batumi and Poti, town at Black Sea coast. Georgian troops will march in Tbilisi and Batumi, marking the presidential inauguration.

Saakashvili is expected to attend the military parade in Batumi. The proposal was not opposed by the Adjarian leadership, which recently chose conciliatory stance towards the country’s new leadership.

Mikheil Saakashvili said on January 21 that his arrival in Batumi will prove once again that the central authorities fully control Georgia’s territory. “The only territory, which is not controlled by the central authorities of Georgia, is breakaway Abkhazia.” He added that Tbilisi “partially controls” even breakaway South Ossetia, which he surprisingly visited on January 3, just on the eve of the presidential elections.

After attending the parade in Batumi, Saakashvili will return to Tbilisi and swear a constitutional oath. Over 150 officials and from up to 20 countries will attend the ceremony, which will be staged outside the Parliament building and last for an hour. Mikheil Saakashvili will also sign a decree on a five-cross, new national flag of Georgia, which has already been approved by the Parliament.

The preparations for a two-day ceremony have already started. Georgian law enforcers heightened security measures in the capital city. Special stages are being built in front of the Parliament building. The Georgian troops led by Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze were today preparing for a march. Four Georgian battalions trained under the U.S.-funded Train and Equip Program will also participate in the January 25 military parade. This will be the first military parade in Georgia for last four years.

“This will be a splendid ceremony, which will last for two days with the participation of Georgian artists, which are currently working abroad,” Avtandil Varsimashvili, director of the inauguration ceremony, says. 
 
Opponents say that such splendid ceremonies are inadmissible for the country with huge financial problems. However, as Interim President Nino Burjanadze said on January 22, the successful “rose revolution” requires the relevant inauguration.”

“The country always needs festivities,” added Nino Burjanadze, who after the inauguration will return to the Parliamentary Chairperson’s position.

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