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US congressional delegation in Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 1
A US congressional delegation, chaired by Senator Ben Cardin, held meetings with Georgian government members and members of the opposition party United National Movement. The delegation members stressed that they were impressed with the "high level” of the Georgian Government. The delegation members came to discuss questions concerning the air-defense system that Georgia is requesting from the United States, bilateral relations between the countries, and other future prospects.

After visiting Georgia, the delegation is participating in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Baku. The delegation members are: Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, Republican Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Phil Gingrey, David Schweikert and Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

“We thought it was important to come to Georgia because of its importance to the United States and its importance to this region,” Senator Cardin stated, emphasizing that he was extremely impressed by the quality of the leadership in Georgia, their ability to transition from one government to another and some other vital achievements.

“We arrived in Georgia soon after the local elections. We congratulate Georgians for their commitment to democracy and basic human rights,” he said.

Concerning the deploying of air defense systems on Georgian territory, Cardin stated that President Obama has made it very clear that the United States is committed to its partnerships in Europe, and that involves security partnerships as well.

“I know there have been direct talks between the leaders of Georgia and the administration in Washington concerning how we can be helpful in this regard. I do not know the status of those talks. However, such talks have taken place,” Cardin said.

The Senator stated that Georgia’s signing of the association agreement with the European Union was an expression of a country’s free will, and he said the US would firmly support Georgia’s territorial integrity.

In this light, Senator Cardin said the US delegation would support a Resolution regarding the violations of Russia’s obligations at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku.

The delegation stressed that they support NATO expansion and giving the MAP to Georgia. However, they admitted that only America’s will is not enough in this regard.

The president’s administration called the meeting important for the country’s interests. The Foreign Policy Advisor to the President, Tengiz Pkhaladze, stated that the meeting covered all the issues that Georgian-American relations involve. “The United States is our key strategic partner and their interest and arrival is very important for Georgia,” Pkhaladze said.

Opposition members also called the meeting important, stressing that they have discussed foreign threats as well as domestic issues related to the problems of democracy. “It is very significant for such delegations to arrive in Georgia and assess the situation from the actual place and not from the distance,” Giga Bokeria, the United National Movement member stated.