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US Official Discusses Democracy and NATO with Government and Opposition

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, December 19
Eric Rubin, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on Europe and Eurasia discussed future relations between Georgia and US with Georgian Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze on Friday. In the frame of his visit to Georgia, Rubin hoped that Georgia would consider electoral recommendations given by the Venice Commission for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2012 and 2013 as “valuable guidance” for the country. “We are committed to do everything to help make as free, fair and open elections as possible,” he said at a news conference. The US official reiterated Washington’s support towards Georgia’s aspiration to enter NATO.

The North Atlantic Council (NAC), which is NATO’s decision-making body has noted Georgia’s significant advance in its efforts to advance its candidacy for NATO membership. Rubin spoke of the importance of recognizing this progress at the NATO Summit in Chicago in spring, 2012. Explaining the necessity for achieving consensus within the Alliance Rubin spoke of the necessity for discussions for moving Georgia forward. “That’s something we will be working very actively on with our allies,” the US official stated.

Discussing the future relations between Georgia and America, Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze expressed his confidence that “2012 would be a very positive, active and dynamic year for Georgian-American relations” deepened by the initiatives which would strengthen the ties between the two countries. Talking of the importance of support from the US, Bakradze said this would help Georgia with its Euro-Atlantic aspiration and economic development.

Rubin, responsible for overseeing relations with countries in the Caucasus also held talks with opposition representatives. Focused around the upcoming elections in the country and Georgia’s foreign policy, Giorgi Targamadze leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) emphasized the importance of US support towards Georgia especially before Chicago Summit in 2012 and US support towards Georgia for its democratic development, and the formation of a successful country with healthy economic conditions. While the New Rights’ Davit Gamkrelidze supposed that the hindrance of Georgia’s integration into NATO encourages Russia to oppress Georgia.

“One of the main topics Rubin was interested in referred to the system of elections in the country, thus we told him how the government is trying to get the election system fitted to one single party,” Davit Usupashvili leader of Republican Party told the media encouraging the US diplomat to talk to Georgian government about this topic. Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia – Free Democrats, discussed the changes caused by businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s entrance to Georgian politics with the US diplomat hoping that the US would attentively study the variety of “attacks” from the government against their political alliance.

Talking of the upcoming parliamentary elections as a way out of political crisis Kakha Shartava from the National Forum focused on democratization processes and the fairness of the electoral system with Rubin. Falsification of electoral lists, terror among the electorate, and the improper distribution of administrative resources among the parties are among the main problems for Georgia according to Shartava. “I hope that the messages towards Georgia made at the Chicago Summit will be optimistic and realistic at the same time,” he stated.

According to information released by the US diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intends to visit Georgia in the near future. The date of the visit is still the subject of discussions while the agenda would be very broad. “It will be what we call omnibus talks, which literally mean in English everything. There is a lot to talk about and I know she really enjoyed her visit here last time”, said Rubin. Talking of the importance of the US-Georgian Charter on Strategic Partnership as a foundation stone for building a relationship and moving forward in all the areas, Rubin welcomed the progress made by Georgia on its way towards NATO.