The President of Georgia visited the Georgian Cadets (Junkers) memorial and paid tribute to their memories. Besides, earlier today Salome Zourabichvili released an address ob Soviet Occupation Day.
“A hundred years have passed since the occupation of our country, since the day the 11th Russian Army arrived on Rustaveli Avenue in a silent Tbilisi and a 70-year long period of dark slavery began.
This day has been declared a Day of Mourning by the State, meaning that one hundred years later, every hero who fought for our freedom and to protect the independence of the homeland under the tricolour flag is still alive in our memories.
Georgia has never succumbed to failure. It has never surrendered to occupation…
Perseverance is the genetic mark of our nation’s immortality and resilience.
From the very beginning, in the years following the occupation – in 1922, 1923, 1924 – the Georgian people, all across Georgia continued to fight for freedom and independence, until a brutal totalitarian machine suppressed the nation’s voice – albeit temporarily. 1956, 1978, 1989 are the years marking the awakening of the national energy.
Georgia did not succumb to occupation…
It shifted its identity and selfhood to preservation and development of culture. The free spirit of these years is enshrined in the paintings of Elene Akhvlediani, David Kakabadze, Shalva Kikodze and Ketevan Magalashvili, in the music of Evgeni Mikeladze, in the works of Petre Otskheli, in the poetry of Galaktion Tabidze and Paolo Iashvili. They are the successors of the spirit of independence and saviours of the national spirit.
Georgia did not succumb to occupation…
The Democratic Republic of Georgia never ceased its legal existence, never recognized Soviet power. It continued to fight abroad: It carried the tricolour flag in immigration, continued to fight for sovereignty and independence at the legal level – at U.S. congressional hearings, in international organizations and with the governments of European countries so that the idea of Georgia’s independence did not disappear. And it did not disappear indeed. As the Church of St. Nino in Paris has been and continues to be the tradition and free spirit of the Georgian Church since its foundation.
Georgia did not succumb to failure! On the contrary, it turned defeat into its own victory: The national movement restored and on 9 April 1991, independent Georgia was restored as the legal successor of the First Republic.
Revival of the nation and its establishement as an independent, sovereign, and free state is a victory over occupation! It is a victory not only over the enemy but also over time and history, tragedy and injustice! That victory – we believed in its inevitability from outside the country, in immigration, and people believed in it within the country, in internal migration, which was the fate of a larger part of Georgian population.
The occupied territories are a tragedy today for all of us, but the country is independent, sovereign and stands firmly on its path of development and that is our victory. The victory is also that despite conflicts and war, we continue on our path toward Europe and on our way to building democracy!
There comes a time when memory must become history, and thus enter eternal consciousness. This is how the history of our country was written and will be written in the future.
Mourning also has its time.
Perhaps the time has come to end mourning as our country has come out victorious after 70 years of occupation. We believe that we will achieve our goal - the unification and union of the country.
The 25th of February must become a day to remember how truth and dignity can prevail, how a small nation can emerge victorious from wrestling with a great empire, how a country can shape its future based on its traditions and identity and achieve results that were unimaginable even 30 years ago - Associated Membership to the European Union and partnership with NATO.
I would like to share one of my thoughts on this day and present it to you. By establishing a memorial complex, we will honor those who fought for the independence and freedom of our country during these 100 years. To create a memorial that reflects the history of this ongoing struggle, its pages, the deeds of its heroes - everyone: the fighters of 1921, the latter insurgents, those who were repressed and brutally persecuted, those who fought in World War II, the students of 1956, the victims of 9 April and those who died in the conflicts of Abkhazia and Samachablo and the 2008 war - all those who fought for a united, independent and free Georgia. Such a memorial, divided into so many pages of our history, will allow the younger generations to learn and understand our history, and will inform foreign guests about the relentless struggle of Georgia for freedom.
The fallen heroes united around love for the homeland can serve as an example of reconciliation”, - reads the statement of the President.