George W. Bush has addressed a huge crowd in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi repeating his support for the pro-American government. His visit was the first by an American leader. He appeared alongside President Mikhail Saakashvili in Freedom Square, the rallying point for the so-called “Rose Revolution” in 2003.
Bush said the changes in Georgia sparked off democratic progress in other countries. He also thanked President Saakashvili for Georgia’s military involvement in Iraq.
Bush said: “We respect Georgia’s desire to join the institutions of Europe and encourage closer cooperation with NATO. Georgia’s leaders know the peaceful resolution of conflicts is essential to your integration into the trans-Atlantic community. The territorial (integrity) and sovereignty of Georgia must be respected by all nations.” Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia fought wars in the early 1990s to establish de facto autonomy. Tbilisi accuses Russia of backing the separatist regimes.