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People pay tribute to August War heroes

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, August 9
The families of soldiers who were killed in Georgian-Russian military conflict that began on August 8, 2008 gathered at the Mukhadgverdi Brothers’ Cemetery in the early morning on Thursday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the tragic events that took the lives of 228 civilians, 170 military servicemen, 14 police officers and left thousands of people internally displaced.

A ceremonial guard provided honors for fallen comrades and a military orchestra performed the Georgian national anthem. A public memorial service for Georgian soldiers killed in the five day conflict was also held at the cemetery.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili laid a wreath at the memorial of the fallen heroes and talked to the families of the deceased. Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania said the strong spirit which has been such a distinctive feature of Georgian warriors throughout the centuries will guarantee the future unity of the country.

Expressing her condolences towards the families of those killed, Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said no one won the war in August 2008. She said the new government has chosen a different way and will solve any type of conflict in a peaceful way, if possible.

Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili said the country will never forget the selflessness of its soldiers and added that five years ago Georgia once again went through great pain. "Today everyone mourns the days which should not have happened" the parliamentary chairman said.

According to Usupashvili, it is a great honor to defend one's country and every soldier is ready to do so; however, the government should always avoid such great loss. "We will do everything possible so that no war occurs again on Georgian soil." Usupashvili stated.

Laying a wreath on the memorial, President Mikheil Saakashvili said the legacy of a politician is measured by the impact of his or her policies. Saakashvili reminded the public to remember the country’s situation before his presidency compared to now. Saakashvili said it was during his governance that Georgia received guarantees about joining NATO. It was also during his term that the country deepened relations with the U.S. and found its place on the world map.

Visiting the Karaleti military base, Minister of Internal Affairs Irakli Gharibashvili spoke of the importance of Karaleti in maintaining public order and safety in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia. Karaleti is several kilometres away from the” border with South Ossetia”.

According to State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili, it is the obligation of the government to ensure that IDPs are given adequate housing. Zakareishvili acknowledged it is impossible to fully solve the conflict without letting IDP's return to their original homes. The minister said the current barbed wires along the so-called occupation line create artificial obstacles between people living on the both sides of the border.

"I want to tell our Abkhaz and Ossetian citizens, that we can solve all the problems together."

Zakareishvili said before expressing confidence that peaceful negotiations by the new government would "bring positive results."