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Georgia made an “impossible” choice, Saakashvili says

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, October 19
Georgia had to react in August 2008 in order to survive, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on October 15. He was speaking on CNN’s Connect the World Show. “You don’t send flowers to invading troops,” Saakashvili said, adding that Georgia had to make an “impossible choice”.

“When you are invaded, you have two choices – to capitulate and cease to exist or resist. And we took the second road. We had to react,” the President told CNN’s Max Foster.

He said Russia was the first to fire. “We were shelled by Russian proxies for weeks and weeks and they were the first ones to fire. Then Russian troops came in. It was an impossible choice but the choice was clear. We refused to surrender and that’s why this palace where I am sitting still has a Georgian flag on it. The most important thing is that Georgia has its independence and it’s still a successful country in this region,” Saakashvili said.

When asked about the prospects of Russian-Georgian relations in the future, the President said that despite the war trauma, there is “no hostility” between the nations. “We have half a million refugees in Georgia. It is a small country with less than five million people. War is a trauma for a normal fast-developing country. Despite this, you will not find any hostility among Georgian people towards Russians. And I think there are a lot of Russians who have good feelings about Georgians. The best documentary, the most fair one about last year’s war, was made by a Russian filmmaker,” he told the CNN journalist.

Saakashvili commented on the level of democracy in the country, saying that his Government had allowed the opposition to rally in the streets for four months, “when the Russian artillery was 32 kilometres from the capital.” “We allowed the opposition to block the streets for four months and paralyze the city centre and this palace. I had to go to another place and run the country from there, and not because we did not have force. By background I am a human rights lawyer. I strongly believe in freedom and democracy,” the President noted. He said Georgia has 27 independent TV channels and dozens of political talk shows every day.