Congratulations! Congratulations fellow Georgians! I congratulate you here in Georgia and to those of you who are beyond the borders and watching us from there today. Congratulations to all of you who live in the occupied territories, because I know for sure that our European future is your future too!
Congratulations - this day belongs to you! This day is the achievement of Georgia! Today I am really happy, and we all share this collective joy. This day is a tribute to our ancestors who valiantly fought for the independence, freedom, democracy, and progress of our beloved nation, sacrificing their lives for this noble cause.
This day, of course, belongs to Ilia [Chavchavadze], whose birthday it is today But it also belongs to countless others like Akaki [Tsereteli], Niko [Nikoladze], Vazha [Pshavela], Sulkhan-Saba [Orbeliani], [King] Erekle, and many more I cannot list them all because this day belongs to all of us who, over the centuries, in various forms, have shared this grand aspiration for Georgia — grounded in our culture and identity — to become a part of the civilized European family, embracing European civilization and culture.
This day is a tribute to Zviad [Gamsakhurdia] and Merab [Kostava]. This day also belongs to Zurab Zhvania, and all the commanders of our nation who contributed to this grand dream.
Nevertheless, above all, this day is your day because the people of Georgia have resolutely expressed their will, enduring both happiness and sorrow, even in the face of war, occupation, and other pressures. The people of Georgia have spoken, chosen their path, and remained unwavering on this journey. We know that this path is the sole path preserving our culture, identity, security, peace, and territorial integrity. Any other path leads to slavery and the loss of our true selves, a reality understood best by the Georgian people.
This day is equally dedicated to those who valiantly defended this nation but could not be here with us today. This day belongs to all the people who have been victims of the unjust and tragic occupation of our country. Our past and our future are anchored in this unwavering love for our homeland.
This is our response to Russia! This is our answer to the occupation! This is our response to all its futility, and it signifies a triumph for all those who resisted it, those who survived it, and those who stand here with us today in spirit because they fought for this day. I wish to pay homage to them with a moment of silence and have their memory accompany us on this day, amid our joy.
[Moment of silence]
Today, just moments ago, I spoke with the Presidents of Ukraine and Moldova extending my congratulations on this momentous occasion for them. Recommendations have been put forth to initiate accession negotiations with their respective countries a significant stride forward for them and we are following in their footsteps one step at a time. On behalf of all of us, I conveyed our warm congratulations They also asked me to convey their congratulations and love to the Georgian people. I am confident that we will traverse this still lengthy road together. We will journey together on this path, and, one day, all three of our countries will attain full membership in the European Union. There, we will continue doing everything for the well-being, peace, and progress of our people as Europe promises to all its full members. Together, we shall be there!
Today, I received congratulations from Joseph Borrell (and these congratulations are addressed to you as well) the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as from numerous citizens within and outside our country.
Here with us are the ambassadors of the European Union, the representatives of the 27 European Union countries who have come here to congratulate you on this day. We would not stand here today without their support. They are the ambassadors of the countries from whom we are expecting the final decision in December. As we know, the European Council is set to meet on December 14-15, and it is the European Council that has to make the final decision.
What we are celebrating today and are very happy about is the recommendation of the Commission, which is a significant part of the final decision. If not for this recommendation, there would have been progress in light of that final decision set for mid-December.
However, this is not the final decision yet. This final decision will depend on each of these countries, as it is a collective decision that no one can oppose, following the principles of the European Union, and we must respect that. Let us await what will transpire but not passively. The final decision also depends on us; It relies on our demonstrated unified will. This is what the European Union attaches the most importance to – for us to be united and for our will to be demonstrated in unity. This means that as we move forward, in the weeks leading to the final decision we must remain united, actively participating and taking responsibility.
As for me, personally, I will continue doing what I have been doing so far and continue lobbying for Georgia’s candidate status. Tomorrow, I will visit Paris, where the "Paris Peace Forum" is taking place and I will participate in a panel discussion on crises and conflicts alongside Charles Michel. I will attend this forum as originally planned, even considering that the Prime Minister is now scheduled to be present. In this context, whether intentionally or unintentionally, both of us will be setting an example of depolarization.
This is why, because we must stand together today, our (not mine) signature campaign - "Our Voice to Europe" - is launched. This campaign depends not on me but on you and the entire country. It should spread across the nation and beyond, allowing everyone to sign. All initiatives are welcome.
Those who wish may sign today, and beginning tomorrow, we will open the Orbeliani Palace for physical signatures. Anyone who wishes to visit in person and sign is welcome to do so. Additionally, we will utilize all modern technologies: a QR code is provided here, allowing you to visit the webpage and sign online. Everyone who wishes to sign will have the opportunity to do so in any form.
In this regard, I would like to address our diaspora. Their role is of immense significance, as they are already situated in Europe or other parts of the world, but primarily in Europe. They share an obligation, with us to demand what they already understand well what they already cherish - which is the future of our country. It is impermissible for them not to be fully engaged in this initiative.
The regions will also have a substantial role. I hope to see various multidimensional initiatives emerge, and I am ready to join them wherever they deem it necessary. Everyone is free to put forward their initiatives, as the core principle here is freedom and the expression of freedom along with that of unity.
Speaking of initiatives, I would like to inform you that here in the palace we will be organizing sectoral meetings and gatherings of representatives from various fields. They will convene at the palace to sign the petition and demonstrate their Europeanness.
Here, behind me on the stage, you may have already noticed this artwork it's a single piece comprised of works by 50 artists who are present at our event today. This initiative of artists, "Voice of Artists to Europe," was in existence even before the concept of signatures emerged. How else could artists better convey their will and aspirations than through the medium of painting and this beautiful, creative piece? These artists hold a hope, a profound desire, and a dream, and perhaps, with our support and the assistance of the EU ambassador, this collective work of 50 artists will reach the heart of Europe and serve as a representation of us there.
In conclusion, I would like to underline that the signature process is open to all. Today, we have extended invitations to everyone, including members of both the ruling party and the opposition. I am not certain if everyone came, but I believe we are portraying an image of unity here. Signing is open to all, regardless of their political beliefs; there is no place for bias in this process. Everyone, big or small, regardless of their political, religious, or other worldviews, should sign because it is everyone's future - the future of Georgia. Now, I would like to read our address, and following this, as the President of this country, I will be the first to sign, after which the signatures will be accessible to everyone.
Our Voice to Europe
We, the citizens of Georgia,
Address you, the leaders of Europe, while awaiting your historic decision next December. We want to bring to you our voice, the united voice of our people, and to let you see the depth of our united motivation.
We call on you to grant our nation the candidate status, in accordance with the longstanding aspirations of the Georgian nation and the unyielding will of its people. Nothing has been able to alter the determination of the Georgian people despite the dire challenges, neither war nor occupation. We have long been bound together by our shared past and our common values. Therefore, our future lies with you - in Europe. This future has no alternative!
In accordance with the provisions enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia, we pledge an unwavering commitment and our unrelenting efforts towards our goal. Irrespective of diverse political affiliations and views, we are united hereby in signing this petition and are therefore pleading for receiving the candidate status.