Washington, D.C., June 2, 2009 - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told Voice of America (VOA) in an exclusive online interview today that the United States is an "indispensable ally" as his country works to transform itself into a Western-style democracy.
"Over and over again, Georgia is named as one of the most successful transitioning democracies," Saakashvili said. "Just last month, the World Bank again ranked us first in this regard."
While touting Georgia's successes, Saakashvili also acknowledged progress must be made economically and politically.
"We are still a country that struggles with poverty and the ill effects of the Soviet era, which is why I have dedicated my second term to the idea of 'Georgia Without Poverty' and to creating jobs for all the people of Georgia," he said.
On political issues, Saakashvili pledged to work with the opposition. "The people in Georgia do have legitimate grievances and issues," he said. "I and my government have always been willing – and remain willing – to sit with the opposition parties at the negotiation table at any time to find solutions to existing challenges."
Georgia's relationship with the United States remains strong, Saakashvili said. He credited U.S. support and generosity for substantially aiding the country's progress.
"Relations between Georgia and the United States are stronger than ever," he said, praising President Obama for pledging to provide assistance to Georgia.
The interview is available in its entirety on Russia's most popular blog site, Live Journal (community.livejournal.com/golos_ameriki), and VOA's Russian website (www.VOANews.com/Russian).
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.