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Defence Minister Visits USA

Friday, December 11
The Minister of Defence of Georgia, Tinatin Khidasheli, has paid an official visit to the United States of America. The first day of the visit was devoted to meetings with representatives of a number of NGOs and leading analytical centres; the Minister of Defence of Georgia then delivered a public speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In her speech, the Defence Minister talked about the ongoing defence reforms and progress made by Georgia in democratic development. She also focused on regional security issues and Russia’s aggressive foreign policy. Speaking about NATO-Georgia relations, the Defence Minister declared that the NATO Foreign Ministerial was positive with regards to Georgia. The questions from the audience concerned NATO integration, Geogia's relationship with Russia and neighbouring states, as well as domestic affairs.

“The main goal of such public discussions is to test our arguments and talk about the challenges Georgia faces in order to inform as many people as possible about our achievements, problems and opportunities. We can be proud of the reforms Georgia has carried out, and we want to inform our partners about our achievements as they might use them in discussions while lobbying for Georgia. Our objective is to answer all the questions that might emerge from the audience to provide our friends with additional arguments and exact facts they will use in debates with opponents,” Tinatin Khidasheli said.

According to CSIS Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic and Director, Europe Program Heather A. Conley, the Defence Minister’s speech was very interesting: “We were delighted to host the Minister for an hour-long conversation that dealt with Georgia’s domestic reforms, Russian influence in Georgia, regional security dynamics and Georgia’s future relationship with NATO on the way to the NATO Summit next year in Warsaw, Poland. The Minister gave us an enormous sense of detail of what is going on in the region, Georgia’s relationship with other countries – such as Turkey and Azerbaijan - and gave the Washington audience a very interesting prospective in to what it feels like to have Russian media propaganda and Russian influence in Georgia. So we had a great conversation and our audience very much appreciated her comments.”

During the first day of the visit, the Defence Minister also met with the representatives of the National Coalition Supporting the Eurasian Jewry, the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, President of the National Democratic Institute NDI Ken Wollack, the Chairman of United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Stephen Hadley and the President of USIP Dr. Nancy Lindborg. The main topics of the meetings were the regional security environment, Russia’s foreign policy, Georgia’s progress towards NATO membership, the results of the NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting and Georgia’s path from the Ministerial to the Warsaw Summit.