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US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State visits Georgia

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, April 11
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Eric Rubin, visited Georgia. During his visit, he will take part in the meeting of the working group on democracy within the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Charter, which will be held on April 12. The document identifies the areas of cooperation between the two countries which include defense and security, economic and people-to-people relations.

On April 9, Rubin held meetings with Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili and Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze. Also he paid a tribute to the victims of the tragedy of April 9, along with U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland.

Panjikidze and Rubin discussed a number of issues on bilateral relations, including Georgia’s contribution to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the Geneva Talks. Newly appointed Georgian ambassador to the U.S., Archil Gegeshidze, also attended the meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Panjikidze, the incoming ambassador would present credentials to President Barack Obama on April 15.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg also visited Georgia. He started a two-day visit on Monday, April 8. Schwarzenberg held meetings with Maia Panjikidze and PM Ivanishvili and discussed the ways of deepening bilateral relations between the two countries. Ivanishvili expressed his willingness to develop relations with the Czech Republic in bilateral and multilateral formats. Both parties emphasized that cooperation should be strengthened especially in the field of the economy.

Schwarzenberg opened the Georgian-Czech business forum, where an agreement on economic cooperation was signed and will meet the Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili on his second day of the visit.

He also met with the Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili.

Georgia’s prospects for NATO integration were discussed during the meeting at the Ministry of Defense. The parties spoke about the active participation of the Czech side in the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) project “Georgia III”. Within the project, the Military-Engineer Brigade of the GAF was trained and equipped in the field of humanitarian demining.

According to the Ministry of Defense Alasania told the Czech Foreign Minister, that one of the top priorities of Georgian defense reforms is the development of a proper military education system. “Therefore, taking into consideration of the best Western practice is of utmost importance for Georgia. In this respect, the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between Czech Military University (Brno) and Georgia’s National Defense Academy has been signed. The Georgian side offered slots in the Sachkhere Mountain Training Center to Czech military servicemen to undergo summer and winter courses.” Georgian and Czech parties also plan to deepen cooperation in military-technical field in the future.

Admiral James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander of Europe also met with the Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili during his visit to Georgia and also visited the Krtsanisi training ground, where Georgian troops undergo training for the Afghan deployment. The admiral emphasized the importance of the Georgian contribution to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and said that Georgian army demonstrates the highest standard of preparation.

The PM stressed the importance of the U.S. European Command in development of military cooperation between the two countries and added that the sides will take several practical steps in the near future to promote the strategic partnership with the U.S.