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Questions about Bidzina Ivanishvili’s visit to the United States

By Messenger Staff
Friday, June 21
After his party's victory in the parliamentary elections last October, Georgian Dream coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili announced that one of his first official foreign visits would be to the United States. This was quite a logical decision as the U.S. is Georgia’s major strategic partner. However eight months have passed since the elections and the visit has not been scheduled, nor has a possible date even been identified.

Some Georgian analysts have suggested that relations between the two countries are not as good as they appear. These analysts point to a recent resolution adopted by the U.S. Congress which is critical of the current Georgian government.

Congress's resolution mentions certain setbacks in the development of democracy in Georgia. The opposition United National Movement (UNM) has used this resolution as evidence that Prime Minister Ivanishvili is diplomatically isolated; the fact that he has not been invited to the United States signifies a failure in foreign policy for the current Georgian government.

Georgian Dream rejects such accusations stating that since the parliamentary elections, the Prime Minister has visited Baku, Erevan, Ankara, Brussels, Strasbourg and Davos.

However, the number and geographic range of President Saakashvili’s visits for the same period have been much greater. He, together with his lobbyist advisers, have been carrying out intensive promotional activities. His trips abroad, while frequent, have been chaotic and wherever he goes he always seems to criticize the current Georgian government.

Some analysts have suggested that the international community still consider Saakashvili the number one authority in Georgia. According to this line of thinking, Ivanishvili will only gain the respect he deserves when Saakashvili's second term as president expires later this year. It seems likely that the Prime Minister will visit the United States after the next Georgian presidential elections in October.

U.S. officials have denied there is any strain in the relationship between the two countries. However, the recent resolution adopted by Congress has greatly disappointed Georgian officials. Almost all of them have tried to assuage the public's anxiety by explaining that the resolution was a result of misinformation from the Georgian opposition.

If nothing else, this confirms that that the current Georgian government lacks adroitness compared to the UNM in terms of public relations and lobbying strategy.