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Gordon on US position over Russia-Georgian relations

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, May 20
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Gordon said Russia’s military presence in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region on which the Russian officials are not “fully transparent, is a problem.” He was speaking at the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Foreign Relations Committee at the US Senate on May 18. He touched upon the incident at the administrative border with South Ossetia, when two Georgian citizens were wounded on Wednesday. He said Russia’s presence in Georgia’s breakaway regions can lead to those kinds of incidents. “It is precisely this sort of incident that happened today that underscores why we are concerned about the unresolved situation in Georgia,” Gordon stated.

He stressed that the lack of an international presence in Georgia’s breakaway regions is a problem, noting that while the International community knows what is happening in Georgia’s undisputed part, it has “little idea” about what is happening in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

When talking about the US-Russian relations, the Assistant Secretary of State said Washington’s goal is to cooperate with Russia in the fields of common interests. “But not at the expense of our principles or our friends,” Gordon noted “As such, where we have concerns, such as on Russia’s human rights record, or on Georgia, we will continue to raise concerns with government and foster connections with civil society.”

According to the US Assistant Secretary of State, there has been “some important success” in terms of extending the European zone of peace, prosperity and democracy. “But equally important challenges remain,” he said. Gordon noted that the US “strongly supports and works with to advance democracy, stability and security” in the Eastern Partnership states – Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Turning to the Caucasus, our joint efforts with the European Union and other international partners in the region have resulted in progress, but disputes over territory and a need for further meaningful political and economic reforms remain serious obstacles to greater stability,” he said “In Georgia, our steadfast engagement and generous assistance have aided in transforming Georgia into an aspiring democracy and important partner to NATO in Afghanistan,” Gordon added.

According to the US Assistant Secretary of State, in cooperation with European partners, Washington will maintain its support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. “We will continue to support international efforts to find peaceful resolution to the dispute over Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Gordon said.