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Salome Zourabichvili - Our response to the occupation is to not accept it as definitive!

Eleven years have passed since the Russo-Georgian war.
 
The 2008 War remains an open wound for the Georgian society.
 
It remains an open wound for the parents who lost their children in the war, for the children who are growing up without their fathers because of this war.
 
As the Commander-in-Chief, a mother, and as a citizen of this country, I pay respect to the vivid memories of our deceased heroes.
 
The war is an open wound for those people whose homes, land, ancestral graves and shrines remain in the occupied territories. Despite this pain and despite the constant pressure, they have continued to live on the occupation line. It is our duty, my duty, to stand alongside them and to care for their security.
 
Our response to the occupation is to not accept it as definitive! We do not accept that the Georgian people residing in Gali and Akhalgori have their basic rights violated, nor do we tolerate the restrictions applied to our Ossetian and Abkhaz citizens and the infringements upon their language and identity.
 
Our response to the occupation is our political and economic resilience, and the continuation of our path of development. Neither the war nor the occupation have managed to change our course… There lies our strength!
 
Non-acceptance means not losing hope and not losing our purpose.
 
Just as we managed to peacefully withdraw the Russian military bases from Georgia in 2005, I strongly believe that we will succeed in ending the occupation and in setting the ground for new relationships. The example of Germany shows that nothing is permanent and that winning against hopelessness is eminently possible.
 
We need to mobilize our partners and make conflict settlement a priority, both for us and for them. I will voice this ambition from the highest United Nations tribune in the nearest future.
 
Hopelessness is not part of the Georgian people’s character. This is why we have to believe that the time will come when even Russia will be convinced that the war, the occupation, and the violation of national borders have to become a thing of the past. In today’s world, when we are facing global threats and challenges, stability is essential! It is essential not only for us as a small country, but also for any country that seeks the development and the prosperity of its nation.
 
My responsibility is to not allow any threat against the statehood of Georgia and to avoid falling prey to any provocation. At the same time, reinforcing our defense capability is essential so that the tragedy that is war never happens again, so that safe citizens can look ahead, so that our secured territory can set the ground for stable development. Such reinforcement is not meant to target or threaten anyone. On the contrary, our policy of peace is strong and irreversible.
 
Our unity is the most powerful instrument in the peaceful resolution of the current conflicts. Therefore, I am, and will remain, the main advocate in achieving public reconciliation.
 
Without consensus-building in the Georgian society, it is impossible to reconcile with the Abkhaz and Ossetian societies, traumatized and divided by war. This is the only way toward the ultimate reunification of our country.
 
We must overcome the traces of war in our minds. We must use the lessons learned as a foundation for strengthening the country. We must be oriented toward the future.
 
Any respected country and its society unify around the war issue. The issue of war needs to bind our society together and not create grounds for its polarization. For this to happen, it is necessary to overcome hatred and to raise the level of our culture and our national consciousness.
 
The only precondition for the future of our country and for its ultimate goal of unification is our unity.

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