On Mike Pompeo’s Georgia Visit

You are a true friend of this country. We are grateful for your personal and the United States’ support of our strategic partnership, the most important partnership of this country - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday.

Pompeo came to Georgia as part of a planned visit to seven countries: France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, November 13 – 23. While in Georgia, he conducted high-level discussions focused on Georgia’s democratic security with senior government officials as well as members of civil society.

The Prime Minister of Georgia thanked the US Secretary of State for his visit to Georgia. In response, Pompeo thanked the PM for the hospitality, and emphasized the years-long friendly relations between the two countries.

“Mister Prime Minister, it is great to be here. We had many important topics to discuss, and these points have been well taken in. The world, and certainly Georgia, is in the middle of a terrible challenge from the virus that was released from China. We will address this together, keep our people safe, and get our economies back up and going again. This is central for the prosperity of your country, region, and the world.

“We have been great friends for almost 30 years now. We support your democracy, we have worked together all this time, and we recognize all the pain and difficulty connected to the occupation of your country. We will do everything we can to support your democratic process, the building up of the institutions in ways that are important for free and fair elections, and all other things that come with robust debate and democracy. And I thank you for hosting me again,” Pompeo said.

According to the Prime Minister, the visit by the Secretary of State reiterates the robustness of the Georgia-US strategic partnership and the commitment of the two countries to continuing this cooperation in order to build on the existing partnership based on shared values.

The enhanced-format high-level meeting at the Administration of the Government was attended from the American side by Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia Kelly Degnan, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ricky Waddell, and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Mary Kissel, and from the Georgian side by Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Georgian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the US Davit Bakradze, and Head of the Government Administration Natia Mezvrishvili.

US State Department Calls On the Opposition to Enter Parliament

A closed-door meeting was held between US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker and leaders of the opposition parties at the Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel on Wednesday.

Leaders of some opposition parties said before the meeting that they would talk about the ongoing political processes and the elections.

Giorgi Vashadze, leader of the opposition Strategy Builder party, noted the importance of the occasion prior to the meeting: "We have our requirements. We will listen to our American partners' opinions. They have a very important role to play, both in terms of Georgian democracy and national security," he said.

Senior State Department officials spoke to media following the meeting: “We are encouraging the opposition to go into parliament and make an electoral change that’s meaningful so that the next elections will be better and we won’t see a repeat of the same kinds of violations…we and the European ambassadors are bringing them to the table, not for us to find the solution, but for them to find the solution, to learn how to work together, because they’re going to have to work together in parliament, and tee up a legislative agenda that includes meaningful electoral change and meaningful reform of the Central Election Commission administration. And then, when there are new elections, we’ll have a more credible result that everybody can have confidence in.”

Pompeo Meets with the President, Patriarch & Civil Society Representatives

“Our region and the world need a peaceful, stable and democratic Caucasus,” President Salome Zurabishvili told Pompeo during his visit to her residence in Orbeliani Palace.

“Peace has no alternative, while the economic and political development of the region is our mutual interest. In protecting this mission, Georgia remains a noble partner and a reliable pillar of support,” she added.

During the meeting, the President expressed hope that cooperation between Georgia and the United States will take a step forward, and negotiations on a free trade agreement will begin.

“Our relations will strengthen through the deepening of strategic partnership, cooperation on Black Sea security issues, and US support for Georgia on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. These issues have strong support among the Georgian and American public, and across the political spectrum," President Zurabishvili said.

The US Secretary of State also met with the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II at the Patriarchate. The sides discussed Georgia's important role in promoting and protecting religious freedom around the world.

Information about the US Secretary of State’s later meeting with civil society representative was released by the US Embassy in Georgia: “Secretary Pompeo sat down with civil society representatives for a candid and open conversation about judicial reform, and the role of civil society in Georgia’s development. The Secretary noted Georgia’s recent judicial reform efforts and the important role of civil society in advancing the rule of law and developing modern state institutions. However, all agreed there is more work to be done, and the US stands ready to continue its support.

“Included in the meeting were representatives of some of the many professional NGOs dedicated to improving Georgia’s democracy, including the American Chamber of Commerce Georgia, Economic Policy Research Center, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Open Society-Georgia Foundation, Rights Georgia, and Transparency International Georgia,” the US Embassy noted.

19 November 2020 17:00