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End of WWII marked across former Soviet Union

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, May 10
On the 67th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili referred to Russia a "new occupant country".

Calling relations between the two countries a “cynical situation” the President spoke of emerging occupants and occupied territories in the former Soviet space, an area which once fought against fascism.

Saakashvili used the phrase “an assault of its own people” to describe Russia that overcame fascism with the former Soviet Union but is now defined as an “occupant” by international terminology.

“I want to remind you that according to the resolution of the European Parliament and a lot of international documents, Russia is carrying out an illegal military occupation of significant parts of Georgian territory,” Saakashvili said at a World Tourism Organization conference in Batumi.

Emphasizing Georgia’s role in defeating fascism, Saakashvili stressed that Georgia had, proportionally, the largest number of people who sacrificed their lives from the former Soviet Union.

According to the President, newly re-elected Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved of successful Georgian reforms at the recent Russian Duma session. Saakashvili said that the person who had approved Georgia’s occupation during his presidency said Russia should follow Georgia’s example in reform-making.

“I don’t know any other example from the modern world history when a representative of a country 100 times as large [as Georgia] says he is ready to study how to rule the country. This is a paradox, but this is what Georgia has achieved,” Saakashvili stated, calling Georgia “a country with a great future”.

In a message congratulating the Georgian people on their “Great Victory”, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of May 9 as a day of “joint pride” for the two nations. Wishing the Georgian people “peace and prosperity,” the Russian President spoke about unprecedented heroism during the severe years of war, which served as a foundation for strengthening traditions of Russian-Georgian friendship and neighbourliness.

Putin also addressed the presidents of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the leaders of Georgian breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also emphasized the importance of the date. In a statement released on May 8, the MFA welcomed the solidarity and unity of the states “in their heroic fight for universal values”. Calling the defeat of Nazi Germany a “victory over a deadly threat”, the Ministry welcomed the honourable achievement of humankind.

“In the Second World War, Georgian soldiers sacrificed their lives for such universal ideals as freedom, justice, and peace outside the borders of their homeland,” the statement read, paying tribute to the soldiers who fell in their fight against fascism and expressing gratitude to veterans for their dedication and contribution to the world.

May 9 is traditionally celebrated in Georgia as the Day of Victory over Fascism. Georgian veterans gather at Vake Park to lay a wreath on the memorial of the Second World War. Political and public figures also pay tribute to fallen soldiers, and congratulate and thank veterans.