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Tbilisi welcomes US Senate Resolution

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, August 1
Georgian authorities hailed the US Senate Resolution passed on July 29 supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. In a unanimously adopted Resolution, US senators expressed support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia and the inviolability of its borders. The senators resolved that the Senate affirms its policy of the United States to “recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as regions of Georgia occupied by the Russian Federation.”

The senators called on the Government of Russia to take steps to fulfill all the terms and conditions of the 2008 ceasefire agreements between Georgia and Russia, including returning military forces to prewar positions and ensuring access to international humanitarian aid to all those affected by the conflict.

The US Senate urged the Government of Russia and the authorities in control of the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to “allow for the full and dignified return of internally displaced persons and international missions to the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.” The resolution says the senate supports “peaceful, constructive engagement and confidence-building” measures between the Government of Georgia and the authorities in control in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and encourages more people-to-people contacts. The senators affirmed that “finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict is a key priority for the United States in the Caucasus region and that lasting regional stability can only be achieved through peaceful means and long-term diplomatic and political dialogue between all parties.”

On July 30 the Georgian Foreign Ministry stated that "Passing this resolution by the U.S. Senate represents a significant step in U.S.-Georgian strategic and partnership relations."

"By unanimously approving the resolution supporting Georgia, the Senate has officially expressed its unwavering and unanimous support towards Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and also recognized the Russian Federation as an occupying force. By doing so [the Senate] gave a precise legal and political assessment to the existing situation on the ground.,"

Georgian Ambassador to the US, Temur Iakobashvili, assessed the Resolution as “yet another confirmation” that Georgia’s territorial integrity is an important issue for Washington. “This is yet another step of Georgia’s strategic partner to support Georgia. This official document adopted by the US Senate, along with the statement made earlier on this issue by the White House, proves one more time that the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity is a principal issue for the US,” the Ambassador said. Iakobashvili said that the main “struggle” for Georgia’s de-occupation is continuing on the diplomatic front. “There is no doubt that this is an important and great success because the US Senate is an institution which is listened to by many countries. It is important that all 100 senators supported the resolution and sends a very serious political message to everyone, including Russia,” Iakobashvili said.

Georgia’s former US Ambassador, Deputy Chairman of the National Security Council, Batu Kutelia, believes the document is a “very serious signal” for other allies of Georgia. “It means they should also take the same kind of consistent position towards the occupation of Georgian territories as the US currently has,” Kutelia said.

Some opposition politicians described the resolution as a “timely message” by the international community. “Stressing peace policy in the context of conflict resolution is especially important,” said the leader of the Parliamentary opposition Christian-Democratic Party, Giorgi Targamadze. said, “We consider that de-occupation and restoration of territorial integrity is only possible through peaceful means; this bi-party support in this direction by our main partner country indicates that there is no alternative to a peaceful solution. At the same time we hope that the government of our neighboring country will perceive the Senate Resolution adequately and the choice between the isolationism and cooperation will be made in favor of the latter.

The Resolution was introduced by US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham. “Today, the Senate spoke with one voice in support of Georgia’s territorial integrity,” Shaheen said on July 29. “While I am pleased by the Senate’s action and the clear message we are sending to Georgia and the Russian Federation, the situation there remains fragile and unresolved, as Russian troops are still occupying Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. As we near the three-year anniversary of the war in the South Caucasus between Russia and Georgia, it is critical that we remain engaged in the region, strengthen US-Georgia relations and continue to seek long-term peace and stability,” the senator added.

“Russia’s invasion of Georgian land in 2008 was an act of aggression not only to Georgia, but to all new democracies,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. “I will continue to stand by Georgia to make sure this young democracy moves forward and becomes a shining example of what can happen after the fall of the Soviet Union.”