President: Defense Forces, Strong Society are Guarantors of Country's Independence

"May 26 is a symbol of our unity, the outcome of which is independence. Today, as never before, we need to believe in our own capabilities and future in order to enter a new world and face new challenges," President Salome Zurabishvili said while speaking at the event marking the 102nd anniversary of the restoration of Georgia's independence at the Vaziani military base.

In her words, today is a rather unusual May 26, as the public cannot participate in the traditional Independence Day celebration with the Defense Forces. This is due to a unique crisis that the country and the whole world is still facing.

"Despite this situation, by coming here and standing with the Defense Forces, we are expressing the importance of this day for Georgia. We must always remember that the guarantors of Georgia's independence are our defense forces and, with them, a united and strong society.

In today's grave crisis, our country has set an example of resilience and success to the world. This is undoubtedly a victory for all of us. But we must know that this war is not over and we will continue to fight this invisible enemy," she noted. 

"When we talk about the success we have achieved, it is clear that professionalism has played its role. On the one hand, the government has acted in a timely and efficient manner to control all levers. On the other, epidemiologists and physicians have correctly outlined a strategy to combat the disease. Our soldiers, wherever necessary, performed their duties at a high level. And, most importantly, the public has shown its maturity, also love and respect of the country and their loved ones.

"It was the professionalism that led to the show of trust by the public, and this became the basis for our success.

"I must emphasize that despite the declaration of a state of emergency, Georgia has not violated the principles of democracy at any stage. The restriction of human rights, which in itself is a state of emergency, has been minimized in our case: the right to move has been restricted only partially, no nationwide quarantine has been declared, the freedom of speech and expression was not restricted, nor was freedom of religion. Most importantly, we have attached the utmost importance to human life. The state of emergency itself was lifted in a timely manner and thus, the agreed-upon constitutional amendments and the elections will not be delayed. It is these approaches that distinguish democratic countries from authoritarian ones. We can all be proud of this and of the fact that the public fully grasped the need for restrictions and stood up to the call. Such an attitude is characteristic of a developed society. 

"The result of all this is that our country has earned high praise from our partners. I spoke with more than 40 heads of state, heads of the United Nations, of the European Union, NATO and of the World Health Organization. They unanimously acknowledged our exemplary management of the crisis. The result is financial assistance and political support. 

"However, this success should not deter us from what’s to come. We, along with the rest of the world, are entering a second, and it can be said - a more difficult phase.

"First of all, we need to understand that the disease is not defeated. We will now need to find a new balance between caution and freedom. As soon as the remaining restrictions are lifted, there will be a belief that the danger is behind us. That is not the case. The task before us - individually and collectively - will depend on how we maintain the achieved result and protect ourselves from new explosions or even from a second wave. 

"We must also be prepared to overcome the economic and social challenges and remember that this requires endurance, patience and more solidarity. The country must be united in this part of the struggle. In this case, confrontation and polarization are the biggest threats that risk to prevent the mobilization of energy. Anyone who tries to distrust doctors at this time, to question the necessary measures and to cause unrest for artificial reasons is fighting against the success of the country and, therefore, against its survival. In times of crises of this magnitude, a certain level of political consolidation is necessary.

"We must also remember that in such a crisis, vulnerable groups need more support because they suffer the most at such times.

"Our success in this first battle opens up new possibilities for us, but we must not forget that no one can win alone the final victory in a war against global challenge. 

"For the first time in human history, the world has stopped and we have been forced to think about what the world will be like after this pause and what place we will occupy in the new world. Understanding this requires everyone to choose between selfishness and solidarity, between confrontation and cooperation, between conflict and peace.

'In tomorrow's world, we can take our place – even though small, a dignified place. It means rethinking our potential and steering society and the economy in the right direction. These new directions are already emerging: along with the survival of tourism, it is the rise of agriculture, the restoration of traditional production, and the capture of new industrial niches in world geoeconomics. All this based on professionalism, which is the key to tomorrow.

"It is unfortunate that during this global challenge, not everyone is equally aware of the need for solidarity and joint struggle.

"Now more than ever before can we see that the path of cooperation and peace – the way Georgia has chosen - is the right way. Refusal of support, escalation of tensions and occupation are anachronisms.

"In the new world, Europe is facing a great challenge and a new phase of solidarity. It becomes even clearer to us that we have no alternative than that of working closely with Europe, and that our place tomorrow is undoubtedly in the European bloc - no matter how it changes.

"Also, in this situation, our strategic partnership with the United States is gaining new importance. It will be more diverse, because, as it has emerged in recent months, in addition to military challenges, we are facing new global threats. These threats require expanding areas of cooperation, such as the Lugar Center and scientific research.

"Against the background of the reorganization of the world economy, where the importance of the Black Sea is to grow even more, the joint plans of Georgia and NATO to strengthen its security become even more urgent.

"At the same time, Georgia must maintain its specificity and identity the new geopolitical map. This means that we need to pay more attention to culture, which has been no less affected by the first stage of the epidemic. This also means that we must pay special attention to our nature, to the environment, to our biodiversity, our treasure and a treasure trove for the world.

"As we have proved during this crisis, we are a nation that, in times of great difficulty, has a rare ability to unite. May 26 is a symbol of unity and of the victories we can achieve through unity. The result of this unity is our independence. Today, more than ever, we need to believe in our own abilities and in our future. We must enter the new world and meet the challenges ahead with this conviction.   

God bless Georgia!," the President said in her address. 

Source: Administration of the President of Georgia

26 May 2020 13:27