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Georgian President Talks About Russian-Georgian War and Change on First Anniversary

Saakashvili said the war brought many changes to Georgia’s political landscape

Washington, D.C., August 7, 2009 – On the first anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili told the Voice of America that “the international community knows that Georgia did not start the war.”

Saakashvili said the war brought many changes to Georgia’s political landscape, most importantly, a commitment “to even more democratic openness because we believe it will be our best defense from another attack.” He added that this commitment “motivates our people and strengthens ties with our allies.”

The exclusive email-interview with VOA’s Russian Service highlighted the progress that Georgia has made since last August, U.S.-Georgian relations and the political environment in Georgia today.

The Georgian president told VOA that Vice President Biden’s recent visit signaled “support for our territorial integrity and our efforts to rebuild the country, strengthen our democracy and develop close ties with the U.S. and Europe.” Saakashvili said that the Georgian people “are grateful for the support we received from the Vice President Biden, President Obama and his entire administration as well as support we received from Europe and many others.”

Opposition to the Saaskashvili government has lead to recent protests in Georgia, but Saaskashvili told VOA that “opposition and protests are an integral part of democracy.” He said that he told his government “to use maximum restraint to ensure the freedom of expression for every Georgian.” He added that he believes that the opposition now understands the people want to bring about change and reform through parliamentary debates, not through protests.

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