With the passing of Senator John McCain, the United States has lost a visionary politician and a devoted statesman, a man of extraordinary courage and high moral integrity.
The country of Georgia, few thousand miles away, has lost a true friend and a staunch ally, a passionate defender of freedom and a great source of inspiration.
Here, on Europe’s eastern frontiers, the Senator will be remembered and cherished for many years to come, not least because of his tireless efforts to defend the country’s sovereignty and democracy in the face of the Russian aggression.
Senator McCain first visited Georgia in early 2000s and over the next two decades he has gradually emerged as the chief advocate for the country, both in America and throughout the world.
The Senator stood by Georgia when it most needed external support; guiding its leaders in times of painful reforms, defending its interests in times of war and urging for more U.S. assistance when the country was slipping off the international agenda.
For McCain, standing by the country and defending its democracy was greater than his personal friendships with Georgia’s political elite; above all, it was a fulfilment of America’s moral mandate, a conviction that the U.S. shares the burden of defending liberty and freedom of small nations against the tyranny of oppressive regimes.
Senator McCain stressed this message repeatedly and outspokenly, most recently during his visit to Georgia in January 2017, when he traveled to Khurvaleti, a village adjacent to Tskhinvali Region that was cut in half by the Russian troops, signaling to the whole world that the Russian occupation of Georgia has to be adequately addressed.
Over time, this exceptional loyalty to principles earned him the respect and the admiration of the Georgian people, and subsequently, the country’s highest state order of National Hero, an award held only by a handful of individuals.
And this is exactly why with Senator McCain’s departure, Georgians are bidding farewell to one of their own – to their National Hero.
May he rest in peace.