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US bill doesn’t include preconditions for allocating aid for Georgia

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, November 12
The US Fiscal Year 2021 State and Foreign Operations Funding bill, which has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, no longer includes preconditions for allocating $132 million financial aid for Georgia. Davit Zalkaliani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, announced that the bill does not contain a 15% reservation regarding the allocation of funding for Georgia that existed in the version adopted by the House of Representatives on July 24, 2020.

The bill also reads that 15% of the funds could have been withheld until the US Secretary of State determined and reported that the Georgian government is taking effective steps to strengthen democratic institutions, combat corruption and ensure that the rule of law in the private sector is consistent with internationally recognized standards.

“This proves once again that there is significant progress in Georgia's democratic development. It also reaffirms how opponents should not use the country's relationship with the United States, a key strategic partner, for their political interests,” said Zalkaliani. The opposition accused the Georgian Dream leadership of worsening relations with the US, citing the caveat from the previous version of the bill.

Davit Bakradze, Georgian Ambassador to the United States responded to the bill, reiterating that the strategic partnership between Georgia and the United States is at the highest level.

The highest level of our partnership is reflected in the legislative acts passed by the US Congress and even in the high-level visit that we expect next week. The reservation that existed in the draft House of Representatives, as we see, does not appear in the version of the Senate,” Bakradze announced, adding that in the aforementioned budget act we see, on the one hand, the support of Georgia from year to year, as part of foreign aid. He reminded us that the support to the Georgian economy from the American side has increased by 35 million compared to 3 years ago, and by almost 50 million compared to the data from 4 years ago.

According to him, the United States strongly supports Georgia's territorial integrity and this will become clear once again during Mike Pompeo's visit.

“As for the second and very important part- it was written in the 2017 budget for the first time and has not changed since then- that it is to support Georgia's policy of territorial integrity and non-recognition, which is a very important message for other countries around the world,” Bakradze said.

The Appropriations Committee in July published a draft of the possibility of suspending the funding provided. The bill needs to be approved by the Senate and then signed by the US president to go into effect.