Georgian Prime Minister meets the US President and Vice President
By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, February 26
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili discussed the strategic partnership and Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic prospects with Vice President Joe Biden. The meeting was held on February 24th at the White House and was joined by the US President Barack Obama.
Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said in Washington that the meeting with President Obama was pre-planned but not made public beforehand upon request from the White House.
“The president and vice president both congratulated the prime minister for Georgia’s success in completing the country’s first peaceful, democratic transition of power, and urged the prime minister to continue working with all of Georgia’s leaders and with civil society to advance the rule of law and to consolidate Georgia’s significant democratic achievements,” it is said in the readout of the meeting.
President Obama and Vice President Biden assured Georgian PM that the Georgian people had the United States’ unwavering support as they pursue their Euro-Atlantic aspirations and pledged continued U.S. assistance to help the new Georgian government as it pursues political, economic, and defense reforms.
According to the readout of the meeting “the President and Prime Minister further discussed opportunities for strengthening U.S.-Georgia strategic cooperation, including on increasing trade and investment ties between our two economies.” The parties agreed to deepen not only political, but economic relations as well.
The Georgian Foreign Minister said after the meeting that President Obama promised the Georgian side to help with tightening economic relations with the U.S. According to Panjikidze, the US may create a special group of experts to provide Georgia with advice on economic and financial issues. The Georgian side will discuss further economic relations with the US high representative for trade issues. The meeting is scheduled for February 26th.
PM Garibashvili said after the meeting that Georgia is moving to a new stage of relations with the United States.
“I would like to stress that the United States is the most important, strategic partner for Georgia and we will maximally contribute to deepening and strengthening these relationships,” the PM said.
According to the PM’s press center at the meeting with Vice President Biden, Gharibashvili “drew the attention to the process of mounting barbed-wire obstacles along the Tskhinvali and Abkhazia occupation line and thanked the US for its clear-cut position on this.”
Speaking about the relations with NATO and EU, the Georgian PM said that the integration process with the Euro-Atlantic community is dynamic and that in autumn of 2014, Georgia will sign the association agreement with EU.
Gharibashvili invited the US vice president to Georgia and noted that Biden's visit will be one more demonstration of the US support to Georgia and will emphasize the importance of retaining stability in the region.
Gharibashvilis meeting with president Obama was assessed by the Georgian Parliamentary opposition as well. MPs from the United National Movement (UNM) say the meeting was extremely important.
Opposition lawmakers say they would like to hear more about all the issues Gharibashvili discussed at the meeting with President Obama.
UNM member Giga Bokeria said his team is interested to know what particular issues were brought forward by the PM.
“It is important that our government continues strong relations with the US,” another UNM member David Bakradze said. According to Bakradze, Obama had a very clear message for the Georgian government, saying that Georgian democracy needs cooperation between various political powers. The MP hopes the government will consider the recommendations and Georgian-US relations will develop further.