National Day of Georgia

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the Celebration on the Occasion of the National Day of Georgia (26 May)



Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

There is a lot to celebrate tonight.

First, the statehood of Georgia.

Because it has been 100 years since the founding of the first Georgian Republic. This is a big milestone.

And, secondly, the work of Rustaveli – who played a major role in shaping Georgian literature and poetry.

It has been hundreds of years since his death. But these stamps, issued by the United Nations Postal Administration, are part of a legacy – which lives on.

And, to mark these celebrations, I will make three main points

First, I want to briefly look back at the last 100 years of Georgia’s history.

It is a history that has been defined by a commitment to independence.

In 1918, the state of Georgia was declared, for the first time.

Although it was absorbed into the Soviet Union, the country’s independence was restored in 1991.

Throughout this history, Georgia has been known for its diversity – acting as a home to many nationalities and ethnic groups.

People all over the world also recognise Georgia’s hospitality, and strong culture and traditions.

Secondly, tonight, I want to point to Georgia’s commitment to multilateralism.

Very soon after regaining its independence, the country made United Nations membership a priority.

It signed up to the UN Charter in 1992. And, the Office of the United Nations was established in Tbilisi a year later.

Georgian people have had an impact on this Organisation’s evolution.

They have helped to shape the work of its most important bodies – from ECOSCO to the Human Rights Council, as well as various processes of the General Assembly.

Here, I want to pay tribute to Ambassador Imnadze – one of our two excellent co-facilitators of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council Reform.

Also, when it comes to the international peace and security, Georgia has played its part.

Georgian peacekeepers have been crucial to peace operations, including in Afghanistan, Mali and Central African Republic. And, I am sad to say that some have not come home. Tonight is a good opportunity to pay tribute to their sacrifice.

Georgia’s commitment to multilateralism is clear, also, on the regional stage.

The country is a key partner to the European Union – and steps towards integration are impressive.

Before I conclude – and as my third point – I will go back to Rustaveli.

His epic 12th century poem, “A Knight in a Panther‘s Skin”, is seen as a masterpiece – not only by Georgians, but by people around the world. And people throughout the ages.

Many of the messages in this poem are relevant today.

For example, the importance of gender equality…..of compromise and negotiation…and of knowledge, over misperceptions.

The stamps launched today remind us of these values. And they acknowledge Georgia’s contribution to our global cultural heritage – and to our multilateral landscape.

So, thank you for inviting me, to join tonight’s celebration.

And happy national day, to our Georgian friends near and far.

Thank you.