Bush Praises Georgia for Setting Example, Supporting Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2005 President Bush thanked the citizens of the former Soviet republic of Georgia today for their country's support in Afghanistan and Iraq and for setting an example for other nations in pursuit of democracy.
The president delivered his remarks in historic Freedom Square in Georgia's capital city, Tblisi. It's the site where Georgians defied the Soviet army and pulled down the statue of Vladimir Lenin -- the first head of the Soviet state -- 15 years ago, declared the birth of the independent nation of Georgia in 1991, and launched the Rose Revolution that peacefully overthrew a corrupt government in 2003.
"Because you acted, Georgia is today both sovereign and free, and a beacon of liberty for this region and the world," Bush told tens of thousands of Georgians who gathered for the first visit to their country by a U.S. president.
Georgia's greatest contribution to democracy is the example it's setting for the rest of the world, the president said. "Before there was a Purple Revolution in Iraq or an Orange Revolution in Ukraine or a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, there was a Rose Revolution in Georgia," he said.
While helping build a free future for their country, the people of Georgia are helping other nations do the same, Bush said.
"When the Afghan people defied terrorists to vote in that nation's first free presidential elections, Georgian soldiers were there to provide security," he said. "And last year, when terrorist violence in Iraq was escalating, Georgia showed her courage. You increased your troop commitment in Iraq fivefold.
"The Iraqi people are grateful," the president told the crowd. "And so are your American and coalition allies."
Building a free society is the work of generations, and Georgia is providing inspiration to other nations around the world, the president said. "Your courage is inspiring democratic reformers and sending a message that echoes around the world," he said. "Freedom will be the future of every nation and every people on earth."