On 26 May, Georgia marked its Independence Day with various events and festivities that took place in the capital, Tbilisi, and 12 self-governing cities in the country.
Georgia marks 26th anniversary of independence
By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 29
This year, Georgia celebrated its 26th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.
Also, it coincided with 850 years since the birth of the Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, who wrote the country's iconic poem, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin.
Rustaveli Avenue, the main street in Tbilisi, was transformed into a scene for various performances, exhibitions and other activities for the celebrations. The Georgian government, as well as foreign diplomats, also joined the citizens in celebrating.
Official celebrations started with an oath taking ceremony of 300 recruits who swore a military oath of allegiance to the motherland.
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili addressed the troops, the officials, guests and Georgians gathered at Freedom Square.
While delivering his speech, he said that the country is still on the path from independence to freedom.
“We managed to establish a Georgian state which is really independent, developing its policies due to the only correct source – the people’s will. But there is still a path from independence to freedom. Freedom means the recognition of others’ rights. No nation is free if they don’t recognize other people’s freedom,” the President said.
Margvelashvili added that Georgia patiently waits for the moment when the European Union and NATO decide to become stronger by accepting Georgia as a member.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili congratulated Georgians on Independence Day. He also congratulated Georgian soldiers who serve in the country and in international peacekeeping missions abroad.
“You are protecting the future of the Georgian state and our children and selflessly guard peace in the world. I am grateful to them for upholding the reputation of Georgian soldiers as amongst the bravest in the world,” Kvirikashvili said.
He also paid tribute to those who died for Georgia’s freedom, independence and integrity.
“Georgia is an independent and free country now, and it is not going to give up on this great achievement,” he stressed.
An exhibition devoted to the 850th jubilee of Shota Rustaveli was opened at Georgia’s National Museum by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The exposition includes unique editions of The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, kept by private collector Guram Akhalaia, including translations in 51 languages. The exhibition also offers more than 70 editions with the autographs of the translators and well-known people. The exhibition will end on June 11.
Following the Russian Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Georgia established its first-ever republic on May 26th 1918, but in 1921 the country was re-invaded by Bolshevik Russia and absorbed into the Soviet Union. Georgia managed to re-gain its independence only in 1991.