President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Today is a special day in our country’s history, in the history of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Exactly two years ago, Georgia provoked a bloody conflict in which our citizens and peacekeepers stationed in South Ossetia were killed. Civilians perished. And this day will forever remain in our memories as a day of sorrow and a day when the Russian Federation took the decision to defend civilians and respond to what was taking place.
Two years have gone by since then; these two years have taken place in quite difficult circumstances. Russia took the step of recognising two new countries – Abkhazia, where we have a military base today, and South Ossetia, where we also have a base. Over this time we have restored peaceful life, we have helped our friends in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to build their own lives, to improve their living standards. This assistance came after the difficult period of confrontation, when the very existence of Abkhazians and the people of South Ossetia was under threat.
Everyone carrying out their military service here and in South Ossetia has gained valuable experience over this time, but most important of all, you and your predecessors have simply defended peaceful life and helped ordinary people, and without this help, to be honest, many of these people would simply not be alive today.
This is why the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia feel such gratitude towards Russia’s soldiers, towards all who are helping to maintain law and order here and preventing extremist forces from pursuing their goals, sowing enmity and hatred and shedding blood. This land has already seen enough of such things, given how difficult the situation has been here since the early 1990s.
I wish you patience, professionalism, and strength today, because this is not the easiest place for stationing, but this is important for our country and for the brotherly countries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I wish success in everything, and hope that your families will be waiting for you at home, and that your spirits will remain high.
Russia is doing everything possible to ensure decent conditions for your military service here. When we arrived here we had to build everything from scratch essentially, but now new living quarters are nearing completion, and I am sure they will be of a high standard. If we can offer decent conditions for service I am sure that service itself will live up to these standards.
I wish you success, peaceful skies above, and I hope that you will continue to serve your missions with as much honour as did your predecessors in 2008.
Thank you for your service.