Georgian Leader Vows To Aid Democracy In Belarus

Prague, 10 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said in televised statements today that his government is committed to helping the United States spread democracy worldwide, including in Belarus.

Saakashvili made the comments before tens of thousands of Georgians who had assembled on Tbilisi's Freedom Square to hear visiting U.S. President George W. Bush.

"I want to tell you one thing: We are collectively responsible before our countries," Saakashvili said. "We are all responsible for spreading democracy throughout the world, starting with Belarus, whose people deserve freedom."

In an editorial column published in today's edition of "The Washington Post," Saakashvili urges new European democracies to join forces with a view to extending the rule of liberty throughout the former Soviet Union and beyond.

In Saakashvili's words, one of the priority tasks of what he calls a new "Yalta conference" -- in reference to the post-World War II agreement that led to Europe's division -- should be to press for liberty in Belarus, in particular through expanded support for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's opposition.

The Georgian parliament a few weeks ago adopted a resolution expressing support for democratic changes in Belarus.