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Bush Arrives in Georgia to Encourage ‘New Democracy’
/ 9 May.'05 / 01:08
Civil Georgia

U.S. President George W. Bush will arrive in Tbilisi in the evening on May 9 from Moscow to, as he put it, “feel the sense of a new democracy” in Georgia.

The official part of the visit will start early on May 10 and includes separate talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili and Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze. The U.S. President will also meet representatives of the Georgian civil society and ethnic minorities. This latter meeting will also be attended by the Georgian President. The two Presidents will also make a public speech on Freedom Square, where tens of thousands of Georgians are expected to gather.

But before the official part of the visit starts, the U.S. President and Mrs. Bush will go to the old part of the capital city shortly after their arrival in Tbilisi and attend a performance of the Georgian national dance.

This visit is seen as an encouragement to Georgia’s government on its way towards democratic reforms. But in his weekly radio address to the nation on May 7, George Bush warned that “the new democracies of Europe still have much work to do.”

"Free elections are a significant achievement, yet they are only part of a fully functioning democracy. Democratic governments must be committed to providing full and equal rights for minorities, resolving conflicts peacefully, encouraging a vibrant political opposition, and ensuring the rule of law,” George Bush said.

This statement is most likely to encourage many Georgian civil society representatives, as well as the opposition, who have been complaining recently about the lack of transparency and rule of law.

The U.S. President’s visit will take place against the background of new wave of worsening relations between Tbilisi and Moscow. Saakashvili refused to visit Russia on May 8-9 to participate in a CIS summit and celebrations marking the end of World War II, after Russia declined to accept Tbilisi’s proposal to close down two military bases by the beginning of 2008.

“Now there is nothing to celebrate in Moscow for Georgia,” Saakashvili said in an interview with Rustavi 2 television on May 8.

also in an interview aired on Rustavi 2 on May 8, George W. Bush said that he “can help some” in terms of resolving the dispute over the Russian military bases, but added “the best way to do this -- deal with this issue is to do it peacefully between Russia and Georgia.”

Bush also said that he will “remind” his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that democracies in Russia’s neighboring countries “will make it easier for Russia to grow in a peaceful way.” The U.S. President also said that he will tell Vladimir Putin that democratic changes in Georgia, or Ukraine was not “a plot by anybody or any nation.”

“This is just the inevitable course of humankind because all humans want to be free,” he added.

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