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Tbilisi hails agreement with the US

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 23
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said the signing of the framework agreement with the US will move Georgia to a “new quality level” of relations with the US and other countries.

Speaking at a televised press conference on December 22, Saakashvili said the document would be vital for Georgia. “This is not only the putting together of things we have done in the past. This document is directed towards projects we have planned for the future. Our relations with the world’s strongest country are passing to the next, higher level. This is important for the security of the region, Georgia’s integrity and economic development,” said the President. He noted that the agreement is similar to one signed between the USA and Ukraine on December 19.

Other Georgian politicians hailed the agreement as well. Minster of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze stated that the document “will be very significant for Georgia, because it implies strategic cooperation in every sector, demonstrates support for Georgia`s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty, and most importantly focuses on cooperation in the security and defence sectors, the repatriation of IDPs and the liberation of the occupied territories,” Vashadze said. The Georgian Foreign Minister also noted that the charter on U.S-Georgian strategic partnership was expected to be signed “before New Year.”

“The text has been submitted to the Georgian side; the Georgian side will propose some amendments on Monday and by Tuesday I think the text will be finally agreed and probably be signed before New Year,” Vashadze told journalists.

Georgian Defence Minister Davit Sikharulidze also welcomed the agreement. He stated that it will enhance the level of relations between Georgia and the United States. The Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrat party considers the USA-Georgia agreement will become a guarantee of stability in the region. According to Giorgi Targamadze, party leader, the draft document and the guarantees of security also raise the level of responsibility of Georgia’s Government. Targamadze said that the framework agreement stressed cooperation in economics, energy security, culture and the development of democracy and participation in the security system. However Targamadze noted that the document says nothing about the deployment of American military bases on Georgian territory.

He doesn’t consider that the signing of this document will cause irritation for Moscow: “The framework agreement with the US will prevent the solving of existing problems with military force,” Targamadze added.

Nino Burjanadze, the former Parliament Speaker and a leader of the non-Parliamentary opposition party Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said the authorities and Georgian media were erroneously giving major attention to the security aspects of the potential treaty. Burjanadze, who is currently in the United States, said that as far as she understood the most significant part of the treaty would deal with democratization issues.

Georgian officials state that the agreement in preparation will be similar to the one signed between the USA and Ukraine on December 19, called the Charter on Strategic Partnership. That Charter, which consists of five sections, covers cooperation in defence and security, economy, trade and energy, strengthening democracy and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The U.S.-Ukraine Charter says that it is based on core principles shared by both sides and that “support for each other’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and the inviolability of our borders constitutes the foundation of our bilateral relations.”