Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has said that democracy, respect for human rights, EU and NATO membership, and the "de-occupation" of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are essential elements of Georgia's independence.
Ivanishvili made the remarks on May 26 during a televised address to mark Georgia's Independence Day.
He said that Georgia must become stable and economically viable in order to win the hearts and minds of citizens in the breakaway regions.
In reference to a violent attack on May 17 against a gay-rights parade in the capital, Ivanishvili said: "I promise no one will be punished for being different, for free opinion and speech."
He added that Georgians should be dignified both in their traditions and in respecting the traditions of others.
Based on reporting by civil.ge and Interfax