For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 15, 2008
President's Radio Address
In Focus: Global Diplomacy
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. For more than a week, the people of the nation of Georgia have withstood assault from the Russian military. The world has watched with alarm as Russia invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatened a democratic government elected by its people. This act is completely unacceptable to the free nations of the world.
The United States and our allies stand with the people of Georgia and their democratically elected government. We insist that Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected. And Moscow must honor its pledge to withdraw its invading forces from all Georgian territory.
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Yesterday, she was in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where she conveyed America's support for Georgia's democratic government. And next week, Secretary Rice will travel to Brussels, where she will meet with the foreign ministers of our NATO allies and EU officials to continue our efforts to rally the free world in defense of a free Georgia.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is overseeing a mission by the United States military to provide humanitarian aid for the people of Georgia. In recent days, U.S. cargo planes carrying humanitarian supplies have arrived in Georgia. In the days ahead, we will continue using U.S. aircraft and other assets as needed to deliver more humanitarian and medical supplies. Russia has agreed to let in all forms of humanitarian assistance, and Russia must keep open all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads, and airspace for civilian transit and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Some Americans listening today may wonder why events taking place in a small country halfway around the world matter to the United States. In the years since it gained independence after the Soviet Union's collapse, Georgia has become a courageous democracy whose people are making the tough choices that are required of free societies.
Since the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Georgian people have held free elections, opened up their economy, and built the foundations of a successful democracy. Georgia has sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to help others achieve the liberty that they struggled so hard to attain. To further strengthen their democracy, Georgia has sought to join the free institutions of the West. The people of Georgia have cast their lot with the free world, and we will not cast them aside.
Georgia's emergence as a young democracy has been part of an inspiring and hopeful new chapter in Europe's history. Europe has moved beyond the world wars that killed millions of people and the Cold War that divided its citizens between two superpowers. For the first time in memory, Europe is becoming a continent that is whole, free, and at peace. And it is essential that America and other free nations ensure that an embattled democracy seeking to stand with us remains sovereign, secure, and undivided.
Russia's actions in Georgia raise serious questions about its role and its intentions in the Europe of the 21st century. In recent years, Russia has sought to integrate into the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the West. The United States has supported those efforts. Now Russia has put its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions.
To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe, and other nations, and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must act to end this crisis.
Thank you for listening.