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US State Department condemns Russian actions in Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 14
The US Department of State has released a statement in the wake of the US- Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission’s meeting on September 8 in Washington, in which the United States condemned Russia’s actions in Georgia’s occupied territories and its creeping occupation inside the country.

“The United States stressed unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

“Georgia and the US reiterated calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions, in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement. The United States expressed strong concern about ongoing so-called ‘borderization’ process and the closure of crossing points. The United States also reiterated its support for bringing the perpetrator of the May 2016 killing of Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria to justice,” the statement reads.

Georgia and the US discussed the prioritization of Georgia’s defense budget and U.S. assistance to help fill critical capability gaps, and strike a balance between global deployments and territorial defense.

“The United States acknowledged Georgia’s role as a strategic partner in the region, and as a steadfast partner promoting stability and security around the globe,” the US authorities stressed in the official statement.

Georgia and the US agreed that bilateral defense cooperation will help enhance the readiness and self-defense capabilities of the Georgian Armed Forces.

Both countries committed to deepening cooperation in the areas of defense readiness; counterterrorism; border and maritime security; defense and security institutional reform, with the aim to jointly analyze gaps in current security system and adapt to elevating hybrid threats and challenges; information sharing; counter-narcotics; law enforcement; civil emergency and crisis management, to achieve the shared goal of increasing Georgia’s resilience.

Georgia and its US ally welcomed the arrival of a Drug Enforcement Administration Country Attache in 2016, “a key milestone” in deepening our counter-narcotics cooperation.

The parties agreed that Georgia’s best security asset is its continued pursuit of democratic and economic reforms.

It was also noted that Georgia’s progress in this regard, particularly highlighting the remarkable progress in defense reforms, has been exceptional over the past year.

The United States expressed its continued support for Georgia in its efforts. The United States also emphasized the importance of apolitical law enforcement and security agencies, as well as the importance of checks and balances, to a strong democracy.

The sides underscored “Georgia’s remarkable reform progress in its 26 years since regaining independence; and look forward to continuing the close partnership that has developed between the United States and Georgia”.

Georgia’s Reconciliation Minister KetevanTsikhelashvili said the statement was further proof that the US strongly supported Georgia.

A representative from the United National Movement party, Zurab Chiaberashvili, also welcomed the statement, but stressed that the current Georgian Dream leadership is not as vocal against the Russian actions in Georgia as they should be.