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Independence Day Marked by the Largest Ever Military Parade
/ 26 May.'04 / 10:04
Civil Georgia

Saakashvili vows Georgia will have the best
army in the region in a couple of years.

President Saakashvili will unveil details of an Abkhazia peace plan on Wednesday amidst a military parade that will showcase some 5,000 troops from the Georgian armed forces who accompanied by scores of heavy armored machines in the capital city, Tbilisi. The largest military parade in Georgia in recent years will mark the country’s Independence Day, May 26th.

In his televised address to the nation on May 25th, President Saakashvili said that the parade will be a "demonstration of Georgia’s forces."

He vowed that in couple of years, the Georgian army will be one of the best in the region. "There will be 15-16 thousand, well-trained soldiers and officers in the army. We need two years for this," Mikheil Saakashvili added.

Saakashvili, who will attend the military parades in both Tbilisi and Batumi, said that Georgia had only three military jets, seven military helicopters and eight "operable" battle tanks, which themselves were "out of fuel."

"Today, Georgia has a hundred heavy armored machines, 20 military helicopters and seven military jets," the President said, adding that all of them will be demonstrated at the parade on the 26th of May.

He also said that Internal Troops, who are under the Interior Ministry’s authority, have also increased their capabilities. "Soldiers and officers in the Internal Troops are trained by the U.S. military instructors [under the framework of the U.S.-funded Georgia Train-and-Equip Program]," Saakashvili added.

The President also spoke about the Abkhazia conflict resolution. He intends to unveil details of the peace plan at the ceremony, which Tbilisi will then propose to the Abkhaz side.

"If you asked any Georgian soldier why he is serving in the armed forces, each of them would reply - ‘to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity’," Mikheil Saakashvili said and later added that a peaceful resolution of the Abkhazia conflict is a primary goal of his government.

Saakashvili said that Tbilisi offers the Abkhaz side "a federation under the context of asymmetrical regionalism," that would grant Abkhazia the largest possible degree of autonomy within the Georgian state.

Mikheil Saakashvili vowed that his government will restore territorial integrity during his presidential term which expires in 2009.

"But I will need each citizen of Georgia’s assistance in this regard," he added.

"At first we should agree with the Abkhazians, and then Russia can be involved in the process of conflict resolution," Saakashvili said. The President added "hard talks are underway with Russia over the resolution of the Abkhazia conflict."

Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania returned from Moscow on May 26th. Officials say Abkhazia was at the top of the agenda of Zhvania’s visit to Moscow.

On May 24th, President Saakashvili said that economic growth alone will lead to the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity. "We cannot reunite Georgia by battle tanks. If we have a strong economy, they [breakaway Abkhazians and Ossetians] will show interest in living in Georgia," Saakashvili added.

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