Ronald Reagan statue unveiled in Tbilisi
A statue to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the symbol of the end of Cold War was unveiled in downtown Tbilisi by President Saakashvili and the U.S. congressional delegation on November 23.
The unveiling ceremony of the U.S. president fighting against the "evil empire", in Tbilisi symbolically coincided with the 20th anniversary of disintegration of the USSR. The bronze statue, depicting a smiling Reagan sitting on a bench with crossed legs, was unveiled in the Rike Park.
The Georgian leader said at the ceremony that the statue was symbolizing the difference between the ideologies of Georgia and its northern neighbor.
“Leader of our invader state has announced that the collapse of the Soviet Union – the Soviet Union which was collapsed by Ronald Reagan – was the 20th century’s biggest geopolitical catastrophe,” Saakashvili said during the unveiling ceremony, referring to Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin.
“Several days ago in the north from us creation of Eurasian Union was announced, which has been bluntly declared to be a new version of the Soviet Union,” Saakashvili said.
He was referring to a ceremony in the Kremlin last week during which Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan presidents signed agreements aimed at boosting economic ties, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described as “a new and very powerful step on the path to forming an Eurasian Economic Union.”
“Russian Orthodox Church, which is directly the Kremlin’s branch, declared a crusade for restoration of the Soviet Union and called the former Soviet Union territory, including Georgia, ‘historic parts of Russia’ which should be returned back to Russia,” Saakashvili continued by referring to remarks of Russian Church leader, Kirill, who said last week that the collapse of the Soviet Union amounted to “the collapse of historical Russia.”
He said that Russia’s attempt to restore the Soviet Union was “revenge” against what Ronald Reagan had done by helping to collapse the Soviet Union.
“While they [Russia] have restored the anthem of the Soviet Union, we are unveiling a statue of Ronald Reagan in a sign of difference between our ideology and of theirs,” Saakashvili said.
“No matter how many crusades they will declare for restoration of the Soviet Union and no matter how many prayers or curses KGB-uniform elements in the north from us will say, freedom will definitely prevail and any attempt of restoration of the Soviet Union will lead to further destabilization of Russia and will lead this state – which deserves much better fate – to the verge of collapse,” Saakashvili said.
After the speech, he invited U.S. congressmen Republican David Dreier; Republican Ed Whitfield and Democrat Donald Payne, who are visiting Tbilisi on November 22-24, to jointly unveil the statue. Along with the congressmen, John Heubusch Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation also arrived in Tbilisi. He carried a letter by Ronald Reagan`s wife Nancy Reagan and read it to the people assembled in Rike Park.
Prior to the unveiling ceremony, a signing ceremony of the Founding Document of Reagan Freedom Center in Georgia also took place in Tbilisi. This is the first center beyond the border of the U.S. which has been officially named after President Reagan.