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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 06:46 GMT
In quotes: New era for Georgia
Demonstrations in Tbilisi on Saturday
Popular revolt saw out former President Shevardnadze

Participants in the weekend's dramatic events in Georgia and international watchers have said goodbye to an old era.

While there are warm words for the new leaders, many are offering words of caution for the future.

Interim President Nino Burdzhanadze:

We have managed to overcome, by peaceful means, the gravest crisis in Georgia's recent history, without shedding a single drop of blood.

The police, army, other power-wielding agencies, which stood on the side of the people in these most difficult days, deserve society's gratitude...

From tomorrow, we are given a historic chance to set our state on the road leading to a European family. We have a historic chance to build, by united efforts, a new, strong, independent state.

Today we have proved that, by standing together, we can gain victory, we can achieve unimaginable success, we can protect our rights, we can protect the dignity of the nation, as well as the dignity of each of us. We can do the same tomorrow, and build a country we all deserve.

Georgian opposition [United National Movement] leader Mikheil Saakashvili:

I deem that the president has made a very brave step. He has avoided bloodshed in the country. He has taken a step which is in the interests of the country as well as in the interests of every Georgian family. And I think history will appreciate this.

Right now, it is important, with the help of President Shevardnadze, of the police, the armed forces, with the help of the acting president Nino Burjanadze, to maintain stability, calmness and peace in the country. People should go home. We should prepare for a new presidential election. We should prepare for Georgia's tomorrow. Today is the greatest day for Georgia.

Georgian opposition [United Democrats] leader Zurab Zhvania:

I reckon that by taking this decision, the president has, in a very dignified way, put an end to the confrontation and the tense situation in Georgia. Everything has been put in its proper place. I do hope that every individual who has fought in recent days can go back home calmly.

We have to respect this decision by Eduard Shevardnadze. He has confirmed that he does not intend to leave Georgia and intends to help people who will become leaders of the Georgian authorities after him and use his own authority and experience as fully as possible.

Emotions which overwhelmed everybody in recent days should recede and we must begin to build a new, united, integral Georgian state and Georgian society in a very dignified way, calmly and without any vengeance or the settling of scores.

Former Georgian national security chief Igor Georgadze:

I have never had problems with the law, but I had problems with one person - Eduard Shevardnadze. After Shevardnadze's resignation, a faint hope is emerging that the situation in Georgia could change. It cannot be ruled out that the former Georgian president could leave Tbilisi for Russia. This would be the best choice for Shevardnadze.

Richard Boucher, spokesman for US Secretary of State Colin Powell:

The US supports the stability and sovereignty of a democratic Georgia and is committed to helping the Georgian people emerge from this crisis.

The people of Georgia have heard the call of Mikheil Saakashvili and his colleagues in the opposition to move to a new stage in Georgian politics.

We look forward to working with Interim President Burdzhanadze in her effort to maintain the integrity of Georgia's democracy as she strives to ensure that this change in government follows the constitution. The United States and the international community stand ready to support the new government in holding free and fair parliamentary elections in the future as required by the Constitution...

President Shevardnadze has been a towering figure in Georgian history and a close friend of the United States.

Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs envoy Javier Solana:

We wanted this crisis to be solved peacefully and it seems that the situation has gone in that direction.

We want a non-violent handover, to be done in a negotiated manner... The situation remains extremely volatile.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov:

Russia is not interfering into domestic affairs of Georgia. Russia will respect the decisions made by the Georgian politicians within the limits of the constitution and the legality. Only in this manner can we accept the decisions which will be made. All such decisions which will be made by going beyond the limits of legality or through streets, by some kind of influence or pressure, we deem that it would not correspond to the democratic principles, and I do not think that it would be in the interests of Georgia.

Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev:

I know Mr Shevardnadze very well. He's not a coward and probably realised that the time had come to do what was needed to stop Georgia from falling apart. In this respect I think he has taken the correct decision.

Russian State Duma [parliament] Speaker Gennady Seleznyov:

This was the wisest move on his part. Shevardnadze himself founded and encouraged those parties and organizations that have come to power now, and he failed to foresee that they would stand up against him. He should have resigned long ago and should not have run in the last presidential elections. Shevardnadze has outwitted himself.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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