US national anthem opens military parade in Georgia

The US national anthem was played at the beginning of a military parade in the center of Tbilisi on December 13, and followed by the Georgian national anthem. The Georgian Defense Department said this was a demonstration of particular respect to the US, which financed the USD 64 million Training and Equipment military assistance program to Georgia.

Speaking at the parade, US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles said that the US would offer continued aid and support to Georgia. Interim Georgian President Nino Burdzhanadze said that thanks to the help of the US, Georgia was successful in training four professional battalions of soldiers and now it plans to conduct reforms in the army. Burdzhanadze said that the reforms are an especially difficult task because of the poor economic situation in the country. Nevertheless, the official petition by Georgia to join NATO requires that its military forces comply with the standards set by the alliance. Burdzhanadze also thanked US President George Bush and the US for their assistance and also mentioned the positive role played by former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in forming the Georgian army.

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