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US delegation meets with Georgian ruling party and opposition representatives

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 4
Georgian opposition representatives met with a US delegation on July 3. The upcoming elections and difficulties and issues surrounding them were the main topics of the meeting.

A six-member U.S. Congressional delegation, chaired by Bill Shuster arrived in Georgia on July 2 with the aim of discussing American-Georgian relations

Democratic Congressman, Jason Altmire; Republican Congressmen, Brett Guthrie; Jeff Denham; Blake Farenthold and Adam Kinzinger, also took part in the meetings.

The delegation is to meet with both opposition and ruling representatives, as well as with President Mikheil Saakashvili. “We have talked with the regime about the problems and obstacles the opposition Georgian Dream is facing due to the current Georgian government. We have also emphasized the importance of international support,” Chairperson of the Georgian Dream, Democratic Georgia, Manana Kobakhidze outlined. She has also mentioned that the visiting congressmen have listened to her arguments and she hoped that the US delegation will touch upon the oppositional arguments while meeting with state officials.

Leader of the New Rights Party, Davit Gamkrelidze, emphasized that congressman Shuster has significant experience and information concerning Georgia and that a significant part of the meeting was dedicated to armament issues and Georgian-American relations.

The leader of the parliamentary minority Christian Democratic Movement, Giorgi Targamadze, hoped that the US will assist Georgia “during this difficult period, as many irrational and unimaginable promises are being voiced from all sides,” Targamadze said.

The meeting was also attended by the US ambassador to Georgia John Bass. However, neither Bass, nor the congressmen have made comments after the meeting.

The term “international pressure” is the term used frequently within the country these days, as many Georgian analysts and NGOs continually reiterate that the current ruling administration backs-down only when pressured by the international community, though such suggestions are routinely rejected by the government. Based on the statements made by the officials of the ruling party representatives, the Georgian government always listens and pays attention to international recommendations. However, they act “based upon the public’s interests and demands.”

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili believes that if were possible for the Georgian government to disregard international opinion, they would not pay attention to the international recommendation. “They would even change their course to Russia and forget state interest to somehow preserve power,” Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger.

Analyst, Demur Giorkhelidze thinks that much would depend on how the inner opposition forces perform, rather than international pressure.

Chair of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, considers that after the elections and through international mediation, the current ruling administration and Ivanishvili will agree on a coalition government. “Even Hillary Clinton’s visit to Georgia confirmed that the US does not support swift changes of government in Georgia. However, America could not ignore the throngs of people supporting the opposition,” Kakhishvili said.