On a visit to Georgia, President George W. Bush addressed a crowd of tens of thousands of people in the capital, Tbilisi. Mr. Bush praised the Georgian people for declaring their country's independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 and for peacefully rejecting flawed parliamentary elections in 2003. He said that the "Rose Revolution," as it became known, set an example for democratic movements elsewhere:
"In recent months, the world has marveled at the hopeful changes taking place from Baghdad to Beirut to Bishkek. But before there was a Purple Revolution in Iraq, or an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, or a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, there was the Rose Revolution in Georgia. Your courage is inspiring democratic reformers and sending a message that echoes across the world: freedom will be the future of every nation and every people on Earth."
Mr. Bush stressed that building democracy would not be easy, but said the U.S. would stand by Georgia. He says Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's government has taken "tough steps" to reform the country's economy and crack down on corruption:
"You are building a democratic society where the rights of minorities are respected, where a free press flourishes, a vigorous opposition is welcome, and unity is achieved through peace. In this new Georgia, the rule of law will prevail, and freedom will be the birthright of every citizen."
The United States respects Georgia's desire to develop closer relations with European institutions and encourages its cooperation with NATO. Referring to the conflicts in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Mr. Bush said Georgia's leaders know that the peaceful resolution of conflict is essential to Georgia's integration into the transatlantic community. At the same time, Mr. Bush said, "the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia must be respected by all nations."
"As you build freedom in this country," President Bush said in his speech in Tbilisi, "you must know that the seeds of liberty you are planting in Georgian soil are flowering across the globe. I have come here to thank you for your courage. The American people value your friendship, and admire your determination."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.