WARSAW -- Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine's Odesa region who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in late July, has taken part in Poland's commemorations marking the anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation.
Speaking at a ceremony in Warsaw on August 4, Saakashvili thanked Poles and their country for their contribution to "the fight of Ukraine and my native Georgia against the [Russian] aggressor."
"Just like Poland had faced the dilemma to be or not to be, Ukraine and Georgia also faced the same question caused by the same reasons, to remain or not to remain on the world's map," Saakashvili said, adding that Ukraine and Georgia followed the path Poland had left for them in 1944.
"Poland is a symbol of freedom in this part of Europe and an example for Ukraine, Georgia, and other nations in the region," Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili also credited the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s arrival in Tbilisi in August 2008 -- when bolstered Russian forces in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia launched attacks on adjacent regions of Georgia -- with stopping Russia from expanding its presence in other regions of Georgia.
"The absence of beautiful buildings and the big walls of old Warsaw destroyed in the 1940s is a symbol of the Polish nation's indestructible soul," Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili arrived in Warsaw from the United States for what was his first international trip since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26.
Saakashvili condemned Poroshenko's executive order as an "illegal way to move me from the political scene in Ukraine."
The 49-year-old Saakashvili is an adamantly pro-Western reformist who came to power in Georgia as a result of the peaceful Rose Revolution protests of 2003.
He served two terms as president from 2004 to 2013.
But his popularity declined in his later years in office, in part because of the 2008 five-day war with Russia during which Moscow's forces drove deep into the South Caucasus country.
Saakashvili's long-ruling party was voted out of power in 2012 parliamentary elections.
Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he took Ukrainian citizenship in order to become governor of the Odesa region.
Georgia is seeking Saakashvili's extradition to face charges related to the violent dispersal of protesters and a raid on a private television station.
He says those charges are politically motivated.
Saakashvili resigned as Odesa's governor in November 2016 -- complaining of official obstruction of anticorruption efforts, accusing Poroshenko of dishonesty, and charging that the central government was sabotaging crucial reforms.
Now, without Ukrainian citizenship, Saakashvili cannot seek political office in Ukraine, where his party is calling for early parliamentary elections.
Ukraine is scheduled to conduct its next presidential election in March 2019.