Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Georgia on the General Assembly's Mind

The much anticipated 63rd session of the General Assembly kicked off yesterday, on September 16th at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

World leaders gathered in the Turtle Bay headquarters on the East River facing a picturesque view of the island, as they took the stand at the helm of the General Assembly Hall one by one on behalf of their nations and the people of every individual country represented at the GA.

The morning session was highlighted by the speech of the US President, George W. Bush who has often criticized the UN for being costly and indecisive in the face of serious world problems, used his final assembly speech as President of the United States to emphasize multinational organizations are "needed more than ever" to combat terrorists and extremists who are threatening world order.

During the p.m. session of the GA, among various statement made by presidents, foreign ministers, etc. of the countries present at the assembly, two particular appearances were at the center of attention and collective anticipation: the speeches of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the President of the Republic of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.

In the light of the recent events and the five-day war that took place in Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia upon the invasion of Georgia proper by the Russian troops, the small democratic republic in Caucasus that had attracted little interest throughout the foreign media in the past, has now become one of the most talked-about countries in today's headlines around the world.

"Countless people throughout the world were deeply moved and profoundly troubled by the invasion of Georgia—which began, with tragic irony, on the eve of that great celebration of peace, the Olympic Games," said President Saakashvili. "If our first revolution was about meeting a threat from within by reinventing a failed state riddled by corruption... Our second revolution must be even more focused, as now we face an even greater challenge, one that comes from the outside."

During his statement to the assembly, the Georgian President suggested to those present that the recent invasion of his country may have been a misguided attempt to resort to the 19th century logic of brute force. This, he noted, is unacceptable in our day and age: "In the 21st century, we have better ways to protect the rights of ethnic minorities than with T-72 tanks and Su fighter jets."

As I listened to the statement made by my president, the leader of the my country, I couldn't help but feel proud of the fact that through all the pain, suffering and humiliation we went through during the past month, our tiny little republic has managed to reemerge as a much more positive and hopeful nation as a result.

Yes, we have a long way to go, of course. But even the fact that the world leaders around the globe and ordinary people (who prior to the escalation were somewhat ignorant of the fact that Georgia is not just the US state but also a country in Eurasia) are equally aware of the importance of keeping peace in every part of the world including the small country that so many have come to acknowledge and support in the recent weeks - even that in itself is an achievement.

However, having said that, we clearly cannot give up just yet, for we do have miles and miles to go before we get to the stage where we can claim full democracy, peace and stability for ourselves and the generations to come. But it's a start - a start we should be proud of.

Let's not forget: a few months ago, if I, as a Georgian, walked into a public place in New York and was asked by a stranger where I was from, they'd be puzzled to hear that Georgia is, indeed, a sovereign country - a beautiful one, in fact - and not just a state in the USA!

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