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Hillary Clinton wants Georgia to develop to reunite

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, July 6
Its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states does not exempt Russia from meeting its August 12 ceasefire agreement commitments, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a joint press conference in Tbilisi after meeting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Clinton was paying a one-day visit to Georgia as part of her South Caucasus trip. She reiterated the US administration’s support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, saying that at the meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Washington on June 24 the US administration reminded Russia to meet its commitments under the ceasefire agreement signed by the Georgian and Russian Presidents.

President Saakashvili thanked the US Secretary of State for her support for Georgia. “We say that we are an independent country, but this is due to the solidarity of the US nation, because we have tight partnership relations with the US and receive support from President Obama and the Secretary of State. US support for Georgia has always been crucial, as it has helped us develop democratic processes and make our experiments successful,” Saakashvili noted. He stressed the “common values” of the Georgian and American nations. “The Georgian Government's work is based on US values,” the President said.

Earlier on Monday the US Secretary of State met Georgian women's group leaders. Georgia has the potential to become a “beacon of democracy”, Hilary Clinton said at the meeting at the National Library. She said “big steps” have been made since the Rose Revolution. Clinton said Georgia could create a “golden age in the 21st century.” The Secretary of State reiterated US support for Georgia, saying that the United States will carry on helping to develop democracy and rule of law in Georgia. Speaking at the meeting Hilary Clinton said however that there are problems still to be solved and recommended tackling them.

The US was “shocked” by the occupation of Georgia, the Secretary of State said at the meeting with women's leaders. The US will never “accept” it, she noted, adding however that the problem is not “easy to solve”. Clinton expressed US support for the Geneva talks format. “We are openly telling Russia what we have to say about Georgia,” the Secretary of State said.

Georgia will be able to reunite through strengthening its democracy and economy, Clinton noted. The more democratic and economically strong the country is, the bigger the chance will be to unite the country, she said, adding that Abkhazian and South Ossetian residents would rather live in a united Georgia in these circumstances. She called on organisations working on IDP and conflicts issues to connect with the people living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia through social networks.

Clinton touched upon Georgian-Russian relations at the meeting, saying that Georgia can find common interests with Russia and at the same time build democracy in the country. “Georgian people have no grounds to turn away from the West,” Clinton stated, adding that Georgia can build a democracy and develop its economy whilst finding common interests with Moscow. Georgia has to move forward, she said. “You cannot move forward if you start looking back. I am not calling on you to forget the past and not use your past experience to avoid possible threats, but you should move forward,” Clinton noted.

When speaking about US-Georgia relations with women's leaders the Secretary of State said that the US will not sacrifice Georgia for improving US-Russia relations. The US administration wanted to improve relations with Russia and had made some progress in this, the Secretary of State said, adding that there are a lot of challenges the world is facing and a necessity to consolidate effort. “However we continue resisting Russia on the issues on which we disagree with them, including the issue of Georgia,” she stated.

Georgian officials assessed the visit of the Secretary of State as a “new stage” in Georgian-US partnership. “Many serious and important statements have been made in terms of Georgia, so it is logical that the partnership between Tbilisi and Washington advances to a new stage of specific action,” Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze said at Monday’s bureau session.

The visit of Hillary Clinton to Tbilisi is a “special day” in the history of Georgia, MP from the ruling National Movement Rusudan Kervalishvili said. “This visit indicates support for the country and support for the way Georgia has passed when fighting for freedom. Hillary Clinton’s assessment that the country is occupied is a clear response to the feeling of fear that Georgia has become a secondary interest for the US due to the new relations between Washington and Moscow,” Kervalishvili noted.