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President Zourabichvili Congratulates Citizens of Georgia on Independence Day

President Salome Zourabichvili, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, accepted the military oath of recruits from the Basic Combat Training Center on Freedom Square and congratulated the Georgian people on Georgia’s Independence Day.
“I would like to welcome the soldiers of our country, especially you, who took the military oath for your homeland today!
“Let me greet you, Mr. Prime-Minister, Mr. Chairman of the Parliament, and members of the Government and Parliament!
“Let me greet you, Your Holiness!
“I would like to welcome the distinguished guests and honorable audience.
“I would like to greet my compatriots living here and overseas!
“Let me congratulate you on Georgia’s Independence Day!
“Last year, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the restoration of our country’s independence. It gave us the possibility to understand the importance of the path that Georgia’s statehood has taken until today. It is a path from Georgia’s conquest to its liberation; it is a path setting grounds for the perception of statehood!
“Last year, we recalled the names of those who led the fight for our independence. They set the grounds for the proclamation of the First Democratic Republic in 1918.  
“Today, Merab Kostava would have turned 80. On March 31, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Without their fight, without those who fought for freedom during the Soviet occupation, Georgia would not have regained its independence in 1991. 
“The whole history of fighting for our independence is a reminder that this achievement is to be permanently defended. We should constantly build, reinforce, and defend all the main pillars on which our statehood stands.
“To strengthen the independence amid current challenges the empowerment and, reinforcement of the society, giving prospects for the future are vitally important.
“The totalitarian regime has put its huge mark on our society. One of the biggest challenges is to fully free ourselves from that mark, even more difficult than we were able to imagine during first year of independence. The traces of Soviet-style thinking hinder us even today, holding us back and hampering our transformation into a free, European state. Unacceptability of difference in opinions, permanent search for internal enemies, generation and dissemination of conspiracy theories - all this is the evidence of Soviet-style thinking.
“During the struggle to maintain the independence, acknowledging one’s freedom and responsibility and acting in the interest of the statehood is the main weapon. Only a free, self-confident, and reconciled society can reinforce the state, support its unification and integration.
“In order to accomplish the main goal –achieve de-occupation and unification - we should primarily overcome the occupation within ourselves!
“Georgia’s independence is rooted in its diversity. We have used this diversity as our power and have pursued the tradition of tolerance for centuries, despite huge challenges and many invasions.
“It is my honor and responsibility to be the President of all Georgian citizens, whether they are Georgian, Abkhazian, Ossetian, Kurd, Azeri, Yezidi, Assyrian, Armenian, Kist, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, or Jewish. 
 “The identities, cultures, languages, and traditions of every single of them are acknowledged and preserved in this country. However, the statehood and its independence are steadily linked to the state language being a cornerstone of the country’s strength.
“Throughout the history, our state was based on the Georgian language. Indeed, that is what Giorgi Merchule meant in his well-known words:
‘And Kartli consists of that spacious land on which the liturgy and all prayers are recited in Georgian language.’
“Studying the Georgian language should be accessible on all of Georgia’s territory, and to do so, it is necessary to increase state support.
 “It is necessary to teach the Georgian language everywhere, throughout the whole territory of Georgia, from early childhood, in kindergartens. This should be ensured by the state!
“All citizens need to speak the state language so that they are able to use their potential and be full-fledged members of the society.
“Georgia’s second state language, Abkhazian, is under huge threat today. The State of Georgia, its Constitution protects the Abkhazian language, but it is disappearing.
“Therefore, as President of Georgia, I feel a special responsibility. In all my official visits, I discuss the grave situation the Russification policy has created for the Abkhazian people, their culture and language.
“There will be no full independence without the country’s unification. In this regard, the unwavering support of the international community is crucial.
“There will be no full independence as long as the occupation line is drawn on our territory.
“There will be no full independence as long as our population, our citizens living in the occupied territories are hostages of the Russian forceful policy. Examples of this policy are the kidnappings of civilians, the latest being the recent tragedy involving Irakli Kvaratskhelia. “The evidence of Russia’s forceful policy is South Ossetia's transformation into a huge military base and closure of the crossing points. We will defeat this with our peaceful policy and through reinforcing our State!
“Neither the war or the occupation made us back off from our main path and this was our first victory.  Everywhere Georgia is recognized as a front-runner on the path to the EU and NATO integration. It is recognized as an island of stability. 
“I hear this assessment about Georgia everywhere I go and this makes me proud. The democratic development, stability and successful advancement along the path towards Europe are the greatest achievements of the Georgian society. This is the basis for our independence and should be preserved as an accomplishment. We should not allow a societal rift as it weakens the State
“We should respect dissenting opinions. Hence, I have not and will not intervene into the political developments directly. But I will defend the core principles of democracy and counter any effort or statement directed against our State.
“It is widely -known that no state or its independence can be protected without borders. Therefore, as part of my visits, I raised the issue of Georgia's border delimitation with our friendly countries.
“It is necessary resolve this issue finally, so that no one succeeds in complicating the good-neighborly relations and hampering the regional stability.
“I am pleased with the timely resumption of the Joint Commission's work and hope that results prompted by state interests will be achieved in the near future.
“Our independence is based on our personal freedom and free-thinking -, that is on education; independence also requires overcoming poverty; independence requires the establishment of European standards, be it labor safety, domestic violence or environment protection. 
“Independence is firmly based on the reinforcement of our traditions and values; independence is deeply rooted here, in Georgia, in the joint commitment of Georgians residing in Georgia, and beyond its borders.
“Independence stands firmly on our society’s reconciliation as only by standing together we will defeat the enemy.
“You, who have gathered here today and you, the soldiers stationed in all the regions of Georgia to defend sovereign territory and security of people, you are the guardians of independence.
“You are defending the democracy and stability this country has achieved; even while participating in the peacekeeping missions. You are defending our security and the security of our partners; you are defending the global security. For this, and for the service to this country, I express deep gratitude to you together with the whole society and the whole nation.
“Long live the independent, powerful Georgia!”
Apart from Tbilisi, oath ceremonies for military recruits were held at the Dadiani Palace in Zugdidi, at the Mravaldzali Monastery in Racha, in the ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe in Kartli, at the Ananuri castle in Dusheti, and at the Grammy Monastery in Kvareli. In total, 463 recruits took oath today.
The military brass band of the National Guard also participated in the event, together with the military servicemen of subdivisions of the Georgian Defense Forces who achieved significant success over the recent years both inside and outside of the country.
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