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US Vice-President meets Georgian opposition

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, August 2
Within the framework of a two-day official visit to Georgia, United States (US) Vice-President Mike Pence has met with representatives of Georgia’s parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition.

Four opposition leaders familiarized Mike Pence with foreign threats and challenges facing the country, including upcoming local elections, Constitution reform and informal governance.

Davit Bakradze, the leader of the European Georgia party, stated after the meeting that clear support from the Vice President regarding the security of Georgia and the country's territorial integrity was voiced during the meeting.

“There was a very clear message that the new US administration and President Trump continue to pursue a clear policy in support of Georgia's security, which is the greatest guarantee that in the future Georgia will be united, will be a NATO member and a protected and successful country,” he said.

He added the conversation touched upon the internal development of the country and the problems existing in this direction.

“The US is interested in Georgia’s stable democracy. Euro-Atlantic integration and economic development are the keys to overall development, but all of this depends on the democratic development of the country," said Bakradze.

Davit Usupashvili, the leader of the Movement of Construction, said that the meeting with Mike Pence focused on continuing close cooperation between Georgia and the US.

He said that emphasis was made on the strengthening of economics, without which Georgia cannot play the role what the US sees in Georgia.

“I’ve offered to the Vice President the following formula: if they say ‘USA first, Georgia next’, we will say ‘Georgia first, USA next’, and we have agreed on it,” he added.

He added the visit of the US Vice-President is a message for Georgia’s friendly states in Europe that Eastern Europe has a larger role in ensuring world security and other issues and it is a clear message for the country’s enemies that Georgia is not and will not be alone.

The leader of the United National Movement (UNM) party, Nika Melia, says the conversation touched upon the persecution of political opponents and the use of instruments that the government uses against political opponents.

He said they also spoke about informal governance in Georgia, referring to tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and former Prime Minister of Georgia.

“All the leaders of the opposition party spoke about informal governance, because this is the reality that we are living in. I do not think that the Vice President still has a good impression about Georgian democracy after he received this information from us,” Melia stated.

The meeting was also attended by the leader of the Free Democrats, Shalva Shavgulidze, who said that the meeting was very interesting.

“I talked about the problems that we face: the excess of power in the hands of the ruling party, consequently, the disruption of institutional governance and the existence of informal governance. The Vice President carefully listened to us,” he stated.