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Charter to be signed on January 9

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, January 6
Georgia and the USA will sign their Charter on Strategic Partnership on January 9, the Georgian Foreign Ministry reported on Monday. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will sign the document, which envisages the “expansion of partnership and cooperation between the two countries in the fields of defence, security, economy, energy, democratic reforms, diplomacy and culture.”

The signing ceremony was initially scheduled for January 4, however it was postponed when Condoleezza Rice planned a visit to the Middle East due to developments in that region. No details of the contents of the document have been revealed so far, however the US Department of State said on December 23 that the charter will be very much like the US-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, signed earlier in December.

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili stressed the importance of the charter in his New Year address to the nation. He said signing the document is a new stage for Georgia in moving from the epoch of the Georgievsk Treaty signed with Russia in the late eighteenth century.

“A new stage is beginning in Georgia’s international relations through the signing of this agreement. Georgia has never before being the world’s strongest state’s equal strategic ally. This agreement of course will not neutralize all the short-term threats but in the long term perspective it will turn Georgia into a state of different quality,” Saakashvili said. US Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft also hailed the charter, saying it will guarantee closer ties in various spheres. “It should happen as soon as possible,” Tefft added, referring to the signing ceremony.

Some opposition representatives have demanded public discussion of the Strategic Partnership treaty. Earlier in December Kakha Kukava from the Conservative Party spoke about the necessity of public discussions, adding that “Georgia should be insured against new irresponsible and provocative actions” by the Georgian Government. “The Conservative Party welcomes cooperation with Western partners, but at the same time believes that Georgia’s current authorities no longer have the mandate to unilaterally take decisions related to long-term security issues,” News Agency quoted Kukava as saying.

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze will leave for Washington for the signing ceremony in the next few days, the Georgian media has reported.