Today we are giving a military salute to a well-disciplined and battle-ready Georgian army. We have great traditions, but two years ago, just over two years ago, we inherited a ramshackle, miserable Georgian army. Over these past few years, together with you, we have done everything possible to create armed forces of which you, your families and the whole of Georgia can be proud, armed forces which threaten no one apart from those people who are prepared to attack freedom and the security of its citizens, those people who want chaos in Georgia and an end to its independence.
We salute those soldiers, officers and sergeants who received medals today, including one of the highest honours awarded by the United States of America, which is extremely rarely given to foreign officers and soldiers. That is the fate and tradition of the Georgians, not just to stand in our own country's watchtower, but also to fight for freedom and Georgia's interests throughout the world. That is how it has been for centuries and that is how it is today, because we, Georgians, exist not just for our own sake but for the whole freedom-loving world.
We are setting an example of successful development amidst freedom, an example which many people fighting for freedom, independence and success need.
In saluting our army we are saluting a new Georgia. We are saluting a Georgia of which every Georgian should be proud, a Georgia which will never bow down to its enemy, a Georgia which can defend itself and its national interests.
With our military salute we hail each one of our citizens, irrespective of ethnic origin, because Georgia belongs to each of them. People of various nations have lived in Georgia for centuries and millennia - Jews, Ossetians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Kurds and others. All of them are Georgian patriots in the service of Georgia.
We salute all those who care about Georgia's fate, whose purpose in life is to fight for Georgia's success. Georgia's citizens have shown everyone that they are capable of building a state which is developed, civilized and befits them.
It is thanks to each of you that today Georgia is known throughout the world as one of the most quickly developing democratic states, which constantly fights to defend its interests and freedom.
Today we also salute all Georgia's young people, including members of the patriot movement, students and school pupils. We salute all of the patriotic political forces. Naturally, we can argue until we are hoarse, but we must remember one thing. Regardless of the length of the argument and the difference of opinion, we are not each other's enemies. We are each other's opponents. We are opponents who should be capable of uniting in the face of the big challenges which exist today and which pose a threat to Georgia, its freedom, its independence and its future.
We should not repeat the same mistake we have been making over the centuries when petty political infighting, envy and bitterness led us to hand our opponents our main assets, our country and our future. No Georgian politician should ever allow this to happen again.
Today we salute all of Georgia's friends. Georgia is returning to the European family where it belongs.
We give a military salute to all freedom-loving peoples and nations. The time will soon come when the Abkhaz and Ossetians will again be celebrating this day just as all Georgian citizens are celebrating today. I wish to tell our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers and sisters that we want peace and we want us to build our small but beautiful and strong country together.
The achievements we have made would have been more valuable if the Abkhaz and Ossetians had all taken part in this process. The time of destruction and confrontation in Georgia is over. It would be best if we continued with construction together and, after a certain time, we all lived in a single state happily, well and safely.
To the people who want to dismember Georgia, I want to say that Georgia no longer has any land to give away. Georgia is no longer able to cede even an inch of its territory. It is a small country but it is beautiful and we proud of it and we are not going to agree to any compromises that concern our territorial integrity.
I would also like to salute all teachers and scientists. They are intellectual pool, which is well known in the world. Education is our main priority. What we are doing today will produce results in three, five, fifty or a hundred years later. We should all continue doing this. We cannot afford to squander talent. We cannot afford to lose scientists or teachers. They should all be used in the construction of a new Georgia.
We salute our citizens who live in the countryside. The fact that the Georgian nation has survived and we have reached where we are today is thanks to our countryside being Georgia's backbone. The people who live in Georgia's rural areas have provided for our country and saved it from death by starvation and saved it from destruction. Their work is particularly valuable and we see this as a special priority.
I wish to greet our wine growers and tell them not to fear anything. No one will be able to destroy this industry in Georgia. On the contrary, it will develop even faster. I wish to salute other agricultural workers. We are starting a large-scale programme of irrigation canal restoration and school and out-patient clinic construction. This is not just a promise. This is reality because these facilities have already been built in hundreds of villages. In the future 10 or 15 times as much should be done.
We give a military salute to our soldiers, soldiers who are proud to serve their motherland, soldiers who have the blood of the heroes of our history flowing in their veins, our real men who have today emerged as symbols of Georgia's future and strength.
We give a military salute to all Georgian heroes who throughout history have given their lives to Georgia's independence. We are indeed a small country but we have many heroes.
We salute all generations of Georgians. We give a military salute to Georgians living abroad. We salute hundreds of representatives of the Georgian diaspora abroad who have been visiting Georgia recently. I would like to say that we are proud of your successes. A Georgian person or a person of any other ethnic origin who leaves Georgia is especially talented and especially successful in other countries, but our task if to bring you back to us, our task is to use your potential for Georgia's benefit, to build our common future.
We salute people of every generation, we salute our pensioners, because an appreciation of kindness, a feeling of justice, battle-capability, integrity and decency, have been handed to us by our elders and we should pass them on to our future generations.
Two years ago, during the revolution, we were gathered together on this spot [in front of parliament] by our hope of building a strong Georgia. Today the situation has changed. Today we brought together by the strength that we have already found and those great aims will soon be achieved, strengthening and uniting the country.
May God protect our homeland, Georgia, and each and every one of you.
Congratulations on Georgia's Independence Day.
This translation is published with permission from BBC Monitoring, Reading, UK
of the President of Georgia