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Saakashvili tells Ossetian rally Georgia committed to peace

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  • Saakashvili tells Ossetian rally Georgia committed to peace

    Saakashvili tells Ossetian rally Georgia committed to peace

    Rustavi-2 TV, Tbilisi
    11 Jul 04

    [Presenter] Some 300 ethnic Ossetians have been rallying outside the
    State Chancellery since this morning. Speakers have been attacking
    [South Ossetian separatist leader Eduard] Kokoiti's government and
    calling for peace.

    The Georgian president came out of his office to meet the
    demonstrators. Mikheil Saakashvili promised the ethnic Ossetians to
    do his utmost to preserve peace.

    He said that full reintegration of Samachablo [South Ossetia] into
    Georgia would take a year at most. [Passage omitted]

    [Saakashvili, speaking to demonstrators] If the Georgian government
    had wanted to start a war, it has had more than enough grounds to do
    so. Our soldiers have been forced to go down on their knees, people
    have been kidnapped, people have been wounded, and roads have been
    attacked. What other grounds would have been needed if we had really
    wanted to start a war? We have been doing everything possible for it
    not to happen, we have been swallowing everything. What other country
    would have put up with seeing all that on television? Why are we doing
    it? Because I want to fight for peace every day and because I am sure
    that, within a year at most, both Tskhinvali and Java
    [separatist-controlled areas in South Ossetia] will simply integrate
    into Georgia peacefully. They know it all too well, and so do we.

    Everyone has left Tskhinvali except 7,000 people. Only several dozen
    children and women have been unable to leave because they have nowhere
    to go. They no longer have anyone to stay with even in Vladikavkaz
    [capital of Russia's North Ossetia] or in villages. As long as these
    people are there, I will do everything possible to stop even a single
    bullet being fired and even a single grenade exploding because the
    spilling of innocent blood is totally unacceptable to me. [Applause]

    [Female demonstrator, to Saakashvili] No-one is going to flee
    Georgia. We are staying here.

    [Saakashvili] Ossetians should not go anywhere from here. Those who
    want Ossetians to go should leave themselves.

    Some people have been saying that I am Ossetian, others that I am
    Armenian, yet others that I am Azerbaijani. I have told them all that
    those who hate Armenians can count me as Armenian, those who hate
    Azerbaijanis can count me as Azerbaijani, and those who hate Ossetians
    can count me as Ossetian through and through, because I believe that
    that is the position of a Georgian patriot. [Passage omitted]