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Agreement with US “already in Tbilisi”

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, December 22
The working draft of the Georgia-US framework agreement is already in Tbilisi. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has announced that “some remarks” will be added by the Georgian side to the final redaction.

Grigol Vashadze, the Foreign Minister of Georgia, stated on December 21 that the sides are likely to sign the document “before the New Year.” “This is an agreement on assistance with security, economic, humanitarian and democratic developments,” Vashadze told Georgian journalists. He noted that Ukraine signed an agreement of the same type on December 20.

The details of the agreement are not publicly known yet, however on December 17 Georgian State Minister on Reintegration Issues Temur Iakobashvili stated that the agreement would be a “pact between two countries and will not consider the deployment of military bases on Georgian territory.” Republican Senator Richard Lugar, speaking to Russian journalists on December 20 also rejected the possibility of the direct deployment of the American Army on Georgian territory. He stated that the members of the Foreign Relations Committee of Congress have asserted that US actions are intended only to provide support and aid to Georgia and will be furthered in order to promote rehabilitation and economic development. “We are trying to help the population injured in August as much as possible. The goal of the US is to return normal life to them”, the Senator said.

The possibility of a framework agreement was first announced by Matthew Bryza, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, during his visit to Tbilisi on December 16. He described the preparatory document as the “agreement on strategic partnership and security” between the USA and Georgia. Bryza refused to reveal any details of the possible agreement, but mentioned that it should help Georgia conduct the “necessary reforms” to attain membership of NATO.

MP Givi Targamadze, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security, told Rustavi 2 that the potential agreement would “actually involve cooperation in all spheres. And what is the most attractive and important for us now, it also involves military cooperation. It involves issues related to further equipping and developing our armed forces and also – I will put it in the words formulated in the draft – all measures to jointly tackle threats.”

Georgian politicians have hailed the existence of a framework agreement. Even the leader of the opposition “Democratic Movement-United Georgia,” Nino Burjanadze, welcomed it. “The development of relationships between Georgia and the USA is very important; however the emphases of this agreement [as reported in the Georgian media] have not been reported correctly. As far as I know from senior Washington officials, one of the most important emphases [in the framework agreement] will be on the development of democracy [in Georgia],” stated Burjanadze, talking on December 20.

Political analyst Giorgi Khutsishvili considers that the framework agreement is a “good sign for Georgia.” “I hope Georgia is not forgotten. The August events have made the situation hard and that’s why many processes that were planned before were postponed. The signing of the document between Georgia and the US is a good sign for Georgia,” he said, as quoted by the Georgia Online news agency.

Another Georgian independent analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelidze, considers that the new agreement means that the USA will still support Georgia even with Barack Obama as President. “The discussion of such an agreement now, just before the change of the administration in the White House, is a very positive sign. It means that it has been discussed and affirmed by the new American Government. It seems that Barack Obama is not going to abandon his position towards Russia.”

Georgian military analyst Vakhtang Maisaia considers that the document has been proposed because Georgia and Ukraine didn’t get a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the last NATO Ministerial in Brussels. “The USA has taken a one-sided step and created a military-economic agreement. It seems to involve assistance with consultations and finance in the military sphere,” he says.