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McCain vs. Obama on Georgia

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Thursday, May 20
US Republican Senator John McCain strongly criticised the Obama administration declaring that ‘A robust support for liberty and human rights seems to be mostly missing from US foreign policy,’ which is now suffering setbacks worldwide. While delivering remarks to the Nixon Center and the Richard Nixon Foundation National Policy Conference on May 18, McCain brought several examples; one was the situation in Georgia and its conflict areas.

McCain said it was a ‘sad experience’ when he was in Georgia in the beginning of 2010 and travelled outside one of the rebel territories of Georgia - Abkhazia, adding that displaced people from this region continue to flee in fear. The US Senator highlighted Russia’s actions in the occupied territories and condemned the US position that the current situation in Georgia is no longer a big problem.

“And not only are Russian forces still occupying sovereign Georgian territory; they are digging in their military presence. But last week, the President resubmitted to Congress a civil-nuclear agreement with Russia, stating, and I quote, ‘the situation in Georgia is no longer an obstacle...’” stated the Senator. He added the question to which Georgians need an answer by Washington. “And some wonder why the Georgians feel that Washington is selling them out to Moscow as the price of our ‘hitting the reset button.’ The sad thing is, it’s not just the Georgians,” McCain said.

The US Senator said it is not only matter of Georgia, but Poles as well as Czechs and other central European states have the same anxiety about ‘American abandonment.’

“You’ll hear much the same thing, for that matter, from those brave Russian democrats, and journalists, and civil society activists – patriots, all of them – who continue to work to restore a respect for human rights in Russia, despite a campaign against them of intimidation and brutality – and worse,” commented McCain.

On May 15 The Washington Post published an op-ed under the headline “U.S. Abandoning Russia's Neighbors”, from Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs David Kramer. He was the guy who helped make Saakashvili a White House project under Bush, and on May 15 he wrote: “The administration is essentially abandoning the Georgians and giving Russia a green light to continue to engage in provocative behavior along its borders.” Kramer writes that the Administration seems to have moved towards taking a "Russia only" approach, neglecting and even abandoning other countries in the region. He says that the most glaring example of this came this week, when President Obama, in a message accompanying the White House's resubmission to Congress of a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia, declared that the situation in Georgia "need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding" with Congressional review of the agreement.

On May 18 a similar issue was published in the Huffington Post under the headline "Obama's Betrayal of Georgia Kind of Makes Sense". In the article the author writes Obama made it clear that he is backing away from Georgia in the name of better ties with Moscow quoting Obama’s words "the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding with the proposed agreement."

“Back in 2008, Bush had frozen this same treaty in response to Russia's invasion of Georgia, and it seems ridiculous for Obama to now claim that the situation "no longer" merits consideration. For the Georgians the situation has only gotten worse. Russia has only cemented its occupation of about a fifth of Georgia's territory since then. But Obama may have figured there is no point in hiding it anymore: the swap of Georgia for Russia is official White House policy,” the article reads.