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Georgia celebrates Independence Day

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, May 27
“We are obliged to move Georgia onto the path of modern democratic states,” Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said, congratulating the residents of Georgia on Independence Day on May 26.

Stressing the importance of this date in Georgia's history, Ivanishvili said that although it was Georgia’s choice to have a free and democratic state with a European style of living, the country still lacks experience of living under democracy.

“We should learn this – both, the government and people,” he said, stressing that the protection of human rights, aspiration to join the EU and NATO, the regulation of relations with neighboring countries, de-occupation, supremacy of law, freedom of media, and other democratic values, are the main challenges the country is facing nowadays.

The PM said each and every resident has their own responsibility, while the state should lead the process of the country’s development. “I am sure you will help us overcome this difficult stage and avoid mistakes,” he said, stressing the state would oppose any kind of violations and would ensure the equality of ethnic, religious or sexual belonging. Stressing that the state remains loyal to traditions, the PM said that Georgia should also welcome and respect others’ traditions, but without “unwise and incomprehensive imitation.”

Despite the rain, the festive events started in 26 Georgian towns at 12 pm on Sunday. Cultural activities, religious services and sports were held in various parts of the country. The Ministry of Internal Affairs exhibited ammunition and various technologies throughout the country. Military pilots flew over the capital Tbilisi.

Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania congratulated the future military servicemen on enlistment in the Georgian Army, stressing the importance of their new mission to protect the independence of Georgia.

“Motherland, Honor, Loyalty - is the slogan of the Georgian Armed Forces. I am sure that you will defend our homeland with dignity and devotion,” Alasania said stressing that Georgian Army is a large and strong family that stands united in good and bad times.

Mayor of Tbilisi congratulated Georgians with the Independence Day via his Facebook page. He said after restoration of independence, Georgian people will not let anyone endanger the main values of the country with their “political egoism and myopia.”

Ugulava said May 26 is the symbol of national dignity, unity and freedom.

US Secretary of State John Kerry sent “warmest regards to the people of Georgia” for celebrating Independence Day. Stressing that the two countries “share a close partnership, built on a firm foundation of shared values and mutual interests” Kerry said the US remains committed to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally-recognized borders, and to the continued strengthening of Georgia’s democratic institutions.

“We honor the commitment of your troops who serve in Afghanistan, including those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we continue to support Georgia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community,” Kerry said in a congratulation letter reaffirming their commitment “to deepening this friendship, for in unity and partnership, there is strength.”

It was the first year when the Independence Day was not celebrated with a traditional military parade. President Mikheil Saakashvili celebrated the date with Georgian servicemen in Afghanistan.

The celebrations ended in Georgia at 21:30 with fireworks and national anthem.