Congressman Poe: Everyone should know that America stands with Georgia

In their weekly analytical, the Voice of America Georgian Service reporter Ia Meurmishvili spoke with Congressman Ted Poe (Republican, Texas), who is a co-chair of the Congressional Georgia Caucus.

What is the status of the House Resolution 660 - “Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives to Support the Territorial Integrity of Georgia?”

It is still pending. It is my hope to get a quick vote on it on the House floor. It is a very important piece of legislation to let everyone know – not just Georgia, but all countries in the world, including the United States – where the United States Congress stands on Georgia. We are pushing it as fast as we can. We do not know when it is going to come to the House floor, but we certainly hope it will happen before this session is over.

Why did you sponsor this resolution?

Georgia is a very important ally of the United States. We need to make sure that our allies know where we stand in a public way, legislative way. However, we also need every other country in the world to know the relationship between Georgia and the United States – especially Russia. They need to know where America stands…and America stands with Georgia.

There is a growing disenchantment in Georgia towards NATO. The alliance keeps reassuring Georgia that its doors remain open and reiterates that Georgia will become a member. However, some NATO members are reluctant to welcome Georgia into the alliance to avoid provoking Russia. With the Membership Action Plan still far out of reach for Tbilisi, why should Georgia continue its aspirations towards the alliance?

Well, I share their frustration. I am a U.S. representative on the NATO Parliamentary Council. I have met with other parliamentarians of NATO. Things move too slowly for me. You have to get every member of NATO to agree on this issue. The progress is slow, but there is progress. I think at the end of the day, hopefully sooner rather than later, Georgia will join NATO. I share the frustration, but I believe it is important for Georgia to be a part of NATO, as it is important for NATO to take Georgia as an ally. Things move slowly and people may be looking back to Russia. All I can say is that it is very important that Georgia be a part of NATO.

Why do you think it is important for NATO to have Georgia as a member?

Because we share the same goals and values regarding democracy. It also needs to be a place where Russia needs to understand that Georgia is a NATO country and it is not just out there on its own. Maybe [then] Russia will slow down its aggressive tendencies not only in Georgia, but also in the region.

Georgia has parliamentary elections coming up in October. By all accounts, it seems that it may turn out to be one of the most contested elections in the country. What are your hopes, expectations for the elections?

I think contentious elections – if we can use that word – are a good thing. Look at our elections! The people are interested, and that is the bottom line. The people in Georgia are interested in what happens to their country. What if they were not interested? What if they were not paying attention to the elections? That would be very sad. Democracy is only as good as the people who get involved in it. I think the Georgian government has done a good job in making sure that the elections are fair and they are free by inviting the international organizations to come to Georgia and monitor those elections. I hope I get to go to Georgia in October and watch what takes place. I look at it as something positive - democracy in action, the people being involved in the future of their country. It is a good thing no matter how the elections turnout.

Ia Meurmishvili, Voice of America Georgian Service

26 May 2016 14:48