Georgia Celebrates Independence Day

Today Georgia marks the day of the highest significance in the country’s history. The Independence Day of Georgia is observed on May 26th.

It commemorates the 26 May 1918 adoption of the Act of Independence, which established the Democratic Republic of Georgia in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is the national day of Georgia. 

On this date 102 years ago Georgia gained independence from the Russian Empire, a part of which it had been since the early 19th century. On May 26 of 1918, exactly at 5:10 AM, the National Council of Georgia (that was renamed into the Parliament of Georgia) adopted the Act of Independence that gave birth to the Democratic Republic of Georgia. 

Yet, the victory and freedom turned out to be quite short; in February–March 1921 the Democratic Republic of Georgia fell to the invading Russian army and the country became the Soviet Socialist Republic, being annexed into the Soviet Union in 1922.

Georgia seceded from the Soviet Union, adopting the Act of Reestablishment of Independence on 9 April 1991, on the second anniversary of the Soviet military crackdown on a large pro-independence rally in Georgia's capital of Tbilisi in 1989.

Due to its symbolism and historical significance, 9 April has been advocated to be recognized as Independence Day by the groups associated with the 1980s national movement and the government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, which presided over the declaration of independence on 9 April 1991.

During their rule (October 1990 – January 1992), Gamsakhurdia's government had instituted 26 May as Independence Day; the 9 April 1991 declaration stated it was based on the 26 May 1918 Act of Independence. The preceding referendum on 31 March 1991 had also asked the citizens of Georgia whether they wanted independence to be restored on the basis of the 26 May 1918 declaration. Since 1993, 9 April has been observed as the Day of National Unity, Civic Concordance, and Remembrance in Georgia.

Independence Day is associated with military parades, fireworks, concerts, fairs, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history and culture of Georgia.

However, this year, due to the global pandemic, these traditional celebrations have been postponed. 

The Prime Minister will mark May 26 at the Vaziani IV Mechanized Brigade base together with the Georgian Defense Forces. In order to avoid overcrowding, state agencies will celebrate Georgia's Independence Day with small-scale events of various formats.

US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has congratulated Georgian people on this important occasion. 

"Gamarjoba ('Hello' in Georgian). On behalf of the US Embassy Tbilisi, I am pleased today to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the people of Georgia on your Independence Day. Georgia and the United States share a deep love of freedom and equality, two core values that are reflected in the 1918 Act of Independence, and that the Georgian people continue to cherish.

"The Act guarantees equal political rights to every Georgian citizen, irrespective of nationality, creed, social rank, or gender. These principles are familiar to every American, as well. Georgians and Americans alike have fought and died for freedom, independence, and equality.

"The friendship between our nations remains deep, rich, and strong because it is based on shared values we both hold dear – liberty, democracy, tolerance, and hard work.

"As partners for almost 30 years, we celebrate Georgia’s progress on its democratic path. And as Georgia’s steadfast friend, today we celebrate with you your freedom and independence”, the Ambassador said in her video address.  

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has congratulated Georgia on Independence Day on behalf of the Government of the United States of America.

"The United States and Georgia have a strong strategic partnership built upon shared values and a deep love of freedom, independence, and unity. The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and we support the Georgian people’s clear choice to embrace Euro-Atlantic integration. The United States values Georgia’s investment in strengthening its defense capabilities and its important contributions to international security, including the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Georgian soldiers have served bravely, and we honor the Georgians who have sacrificed so much in pursuit of global peace and security.

"In the year ahead, we look forward to further enriching our bilateral relationship as Georgia enacts reforms that strengthen its democratic processes and the rule of law buttressed by an independent judiciary. We firmly support Georgia’s economic development and efforts to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of crisis like these, we are reminded of the true depth and value of the friendship between the American and Georgian peoples.

"Happy Independence Day!” reads the letter from the Secretary of State.

US Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger also congratulated Georgia on Independence Day.

"Hello, Georgia, Happy Independence Day! You all really deserved it and I hope that you will celebrate Georgia's achievements on this day. You are very important to the United States and we will be very happy to see a strong and stable democracy in Georgia!” Kinzinger said.

The above information was spread by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.

By Ana Dumbadze 

Related Story: No Large-scale Events Planned in Georgia to Celebrate Independence Day

26 May 2020 10:20