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US Vice President arrives to Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 31
The Prime Minister and the President of Georgia have said that US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit on July 31-August 1 will play an important role in Georgia-US strategic relations.

“The fact that the Government of Georgia managed to establish very close ties with the new administration of the US is very important for development of the strategic partnership,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated.

He stressed that the bilateral strategic relations format between the two nations was developing dynamically.

“We believe that Mike Pence’s visit to Georgia will give more push to bilateral relations. Several important meetings are being held within the visit. I want to once again express my satisfaction that the visit will take place soon,” Kvirikashvili stated.

The PM highlighted the significance of the ongoing Noble Partner exercise in Georgia.

Kvirikashvili stated the drills were "very important for strengthening stability in the region”.

“The US Vice President’s visit expresses the United States’ continued support to Georgia and their cooperation with us,” President Giorgi Margvelashvili stated.

Margvelashvili called the visit a "key event” in Georgia-US relations.

The President stressed the visit and the Noble Partner exercises show that Georgian and US soldiers stand together not only in international peacekeeping missions, but also on the territory of Georgia.

Margvelashvili said he believed such visits will support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process.

The large-scale Noble Partner 2017 exercises started on July 30, with the involvement of five NATO members and three partner countries.

The drills, which focus on improving defence and attack skills, involve more than 2,800 soldiers.

The soldiers come from the US, the UK, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia.

Georgia is represented by one hundred infantry soldiers and a platoon.

Prior to the visit, 24 leading Georgian NGOs addressed the Vice President in an open letter.

In the letter, the Georgian NGOs write that Georgia’s strive to freedom has become target for Russian aggressive revisionism.

They stated by fighting freedom through hybrid means and anti-Western propaganda, Russia is constantly trying to undermine Georgia’s statehood, along with its continued occupation and creeping annexation of Georgian territories, and its illegal military presence in the region.

“In more than a decade, Georgia has achieved significant progress in the process of consolidating democracy, modernizing the country and implementing significant reforms. This progress has played a decisive role in enabling Georgia to develop resilience to withstand Russian pressure,” the NGOs say.

They also stressed that they wished to highlight several important issues which are a cause of concern for the Georgian civil society, and “threaten to undermine the democratic achievements of recent years.”

“The most important pending problem we would like to point out is the single-handed reform of the Constitution by the ruling party, which failed to seek and achieve broad public and political consensus over the draft of the document,” the NGOs said.

They also mentioned “concerns over the independence of the judiciary” and “the impunity and lack of accountability of law-enforcement and security services.”

“A worsening media environment and attempts to reduce pluralism is yet another tendency we would like to bring to your attention. Recent developments on Georgia’s media landscape pose a threat to media pluralism in Georgia. No fewer than three broadcasting companies are owned by individuals closely affiliated with the ruling party,” the NGOs stressed.