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Baltic leaders rally in Tbilisi

Aug 13, 2008
In cooperation with BNS

Baltic leaders rally in Tbilisi
Photo: Tija Iles Supporters lay flowers at Georgian embassy

TBILISI- Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis alongside presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, and Lithuania arrived in Georgia and took part in the mass rally in Tbilisi, to show solidarity with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia's conflict with Russia.

"You have the right to freedom and independence. We are here to demonstrate our solidarity ... freedom is worth fighting for," said Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Georgian television.

Yushchenko appeared on stage with Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and his colleagues from Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, as well as Latvia's Prime Minister Godmanis, addressing thousands of people who gathered for the rally.

Georgian President Saakashvili was first to address the rally. "This is the new Europe. Georgia is a European country which will defend its integrity," he said.

He thanked the Lithuanian president for everything Lithuania has done for Georgia and for the mission of Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitekunas. ""I would like to thank you, President Adamkus, for your minister and for his coming here during the difficult times and the actions that he took," said Saakashvili, adding that the Lithuanian diplomacy chief stood with the Georgian nation during its most difficult time.

Vaitekunas and representatives of other European countries went to Georgia at weekend to discuss negotiations about the peace plan.

Godmanis, Yushchenko, Kaczynski, Ilves and Adamkus joined hands and held them aloft to cheers from the crowd of tens of thousands which was awash with the Georgian national colours of red and white as well as flags of the US, the European Union (EU), France, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

"This country [Russia] seeks to restore its dominance, but the time of dominance is over," Polish President Kaczynski told the crowd, which chanted "Poland, Poland!" as he took the microphone.

"You are not alone, we are standing with you ... Let's stand together united and victory will be on our side," said Lithuania's Adamkus.

Estonia's Ilves said: "Everyone who believes in freedom and democracy is saying today 'I am Georgian'. We are here to demonstrate our solidarity." He said "I am Georgian" in Georgian.

Godmanis said in an interview with Latvian commercial television LNT on Tuesday morning that nobody is thinking of possible threat to the state leaders in Georgia, and the duties have to be fulfilled despite that.

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