Saakashvili addresses European Parliament
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, November 24
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili delivered a speech at the European Parliament on the 7th anniversary of the Rose Revolution on November 23. Admitting mistakes during the past seven years Saakashvili stressed that learning from his own mistakes makes it easier to achieve success. “No Georgian citizen thinks he/she lives in a post-Soviet republic nowadays - people in Georgia talk of their Government and criticise it just as it is in a European democracy. There are different ratings which show the popularity of political leaders and the steps made by them,” the President stated.
Talking about the significance of the date for the South Caucasus, President Saakashvili presented the European MPs his “message of hope” showing that peace in the region could be achieved with European support. “The Georgian people have always felt European; they died for peace but wars seemed unavoidable,” Saakashvili said stressing that Georgia would never use its armed forces to restore territorial integrity. Pledging the non-use of force in the process of restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, he stated Georgia would use its rights of defence if there was a new case of aggression and intervention only on the 80% of its territory, which was under the control of Georgian Government.
Expressing the readiness of the Caucasus to establish European peace, the Georgian President thus offered to start peaceful negotiations with Russia and added that Georgia will never use armed forces for restoring its territorial integrity and sovereignty against the occupiers or their puppets, even if the UN regulations gave the right to do so. “This is not an easy initiative for the country, which has its territories occupied and 500,000 IDPs on the ground, even if Russia refuses to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories,” Saakashvili told the MPs stressing he had written letters to the UN Secretary General, the head of the OSCE, and EU leadership.
Addressing Russia from the tribune of the European Parliament, the Georgian President said Georgia had already made its choice against the former Soviet regime but tanks would remain part of history. “It’s time to end the prolonged and harmful era of imperialism with peace thus I would like to encourage the Russian Government to make a choice for the future!” Saakashvili said mentioning the positive role Russia could play in the positive transformation of the Caucasus not as a vassal but its partner. “I would personally prefer that Russia was our friend not our enemy, respecting international law and supporting human rights, that’s why I am so encouraging the cooperation of the American and European colleagues with Russia,” Saakashvili said welcoming Russians to visit Georgia for any purpose except for occupation and asked international organisations to officially admit Russia’s intervention to Georgia as “occupation”. “Our constructiveness will be in vain if you – our European friends won’t tell the truth!” he added.
Ending his speech with the words of the first President of Georgia, Noe Jordania on European democracy, Saakashvili spoke of the 2000-year European culture, democratic welfare and natural wealth. “As the current President of Georgia I would like to address you with the same words about the love of European ideas and values [as Jordania did]. Today I have come here to tell you that I will do all my best to achieve our European goals,” the Georgian President told the European MPs.
The Russian Government is sceptical of Mikheil Saakashvili’s peaceful initiative. According to information released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, there have been no official requests from Saakashvili and so they have nothing to discuss with the Georgian President.
The Rose Revolution – “a significant day for the whole of the South Caucasus” was a symbolic date for Saakashvili’s speech. This was only the second time that the European Parliament has given an opportunity to a non-member state’s President to address the European Union after the spiritual leader of Tibet Dalai Lama. “We always knew that you were brave and prudent and your message has been important for us and the whole Caucasus region,” President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek told Saakashvili focusing on the last seven years after the Rose revolution as the most special period for Georgian history.
Highlighting that Russia has to follow international obligations and withdraw its troops from the Georgian territories, Buzek stressed how the European Union has been observing the peaceful development of Georgia, “one of the ancient European countries” during the years. “We need peace in South Caucasus and Georgia will become a wonderful example of how events are developing in a democratic country,” Buzek told the MPs recollecting Saakashvili’s words how the country has been sharing the European way of reforms for approaching European standards and expressed full support of Georgia’s further development.
Mentioning the importance of the international forums for our country political analyst Gia Khukhashvili said President Saakashvili had been too rhetorical in his speech to the European Parliament. “I wonder whether the MPs sitting in the hall really understand the true position of our Government or not. As a matter of a fact there were quite interesting issues in the speech but unfortunately it was a bit confusing as a whole,” the analyst told The Messenger referring to the President’s wish to start peaceful negotiations with Russia while at the same time asking the international community to declare the country as “occupier”. “There’s no doubt that no such recognition will follow Saakashvili’s request. I personally think that the Government is mainly focused on internal policy in order to prove they are unchanged,” he said adding that the Georgian Government, receiving a negative response from Russia is getting into its own blind alley and is in need of a deserving solution.