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Georgia Has a New President
/ 25 Jan.'04 / 17:19
Giorgi Sepashvili, Civil Georgia

Saakashvili reviews parade after
being sworn in as the Presidnet.

Mikhail Saakashvili was inaugurated as Georgia's new president. Saakashvili, 36, who is the youngest President in Europe, elected with more than 96% of votes in January 4 elections, said that he became “the President of the proud people.”

 "I will defend Georgia's constitution, perform the presidential duties with honor and ensure security and dignity of our citizens," Saakashvili said in his presidential oath.

In his speech after taking the oath, Saakashvili reiterated that Georgia is willing to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic structures, as well as “to offer friendly hand to Russia.”

In a symbolic gesture Saakashvili raised the flag of the European Union beside the Georgia’s five-cross, new national flag, while the chorus was singing the European anthem – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

“The flag of the European Union flutters besides the Georgia’s national [five-cross] flag, because we consider Georgia as a part of Europe, it's also our flag,” he said. 

“Georgia will be a stable ally for all those countries, which are eager to establish good relations with us. Our supreme goal still remains integration into the European structures. We would like to express our huge gratitude to the United States, which helped us in the most difficult times. We would like to offer a friendly hand to Russia and develop this friendship. I know that we will face a great number of difficulties ahead, but we will stand together, unite and cope with all the problems,” Saakashvili said after being sworn in as the new President of Georgia.

First military parade was held in Tbilisi
since 1997.

Georgian troops marched in front of Mikheil Saakashvili, who also became the country’s commander in chief of the armed forces. This was the first military parade in Georgia since 1997. UH-1H Helicopters, donated by the U.S. government and several fighter jets also overflew the Parliament building. 

Thousands of people, including foreign guests and official delegations, were gathered outside the Parliament building today to attend the inauguration ceremony.

Two months ago on the same place Mikheil Saakashvili was leading the thousands of protesters, which forced former President Shevardnadze to resign. Shevardnadze, who was not invited on the inauguration ceremony, celebrated his 76 anniversary on January 25.  

Powell says he is impressed with Saakashvili.

Just before the inauguration Mikheil Saakashvili held one-hour long talks with the visiting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who reiterated the U.S. support towards Georgia and expressed hopes that the new leadership would implement political and economic reforms, as well as respect human rights.

Later he will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who also attended the inauguration ceremony. High-level delegations from 20 countries arrived in Tbilisi for participation of the inauguration ceremony.

Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze, Mikheil
Saakashvili and Aslan Abashidze at the
military parade in Batumi on January 25.

In the morning on January 25 Mikheil Saakashvili traveled in western Georgia and attended the military parade in Poti, town at the Black Sea coast and Adjarian capital Batumi. He also held a brief meeting with the Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze. Observers say Adjara and its leader will be among the problems, which Saakashvili will have to deal with from very first days of his presidency. 

In a televised interview on January 24 Saakashvili said that Georgian authorities fully control situation in Adjara. “That is why I am going there to prove this once again,” Saakashvili told reporters. After the meeting with Abashidze he said that the Autonomous Republic and Tbilisi would have “normal relations.”

Saakashvili, who vows to curb corruption and do outmost to restore country’s territorial integrity, also said that he “would better die, rather than frustrate people’s expectations.”

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