US Senator: Putin Illegally Annexed Part of Georgia

TBILISI – U.S. Senator John McCain had strong words during his visit to Tbilisi at the start of the new year.

“Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed part of Georgia,” he said, “but Georgia will one day be free, united and independent.”

McCain, along with two other U.S. senators - Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar – arrived in Tbilisi on Sunday for a two-day visit to emphasize their support for Georgia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity".

The visit included a meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze. A broad variety of issues pertaining to Georgia-US relations were discussed.

Kvirikashvili thanked the senators for coming to Georgia, describing their arrival as a sign of America’s “strong support for Georgia.”

 “We have been and will be the United States’ most reliable partner in the region,” he told the senators.

The meeting was followed by a tour of the Tbilisi Tech Park.

The guests visited the labs for entrepreneurial innovations and exhibition halls located in the territory of the Tech Park. The senators met with young people interested in innovative ideas and attended their presentations.

Senator Graham told the audience at the venue he was impressed by Kvirikashvili's work on reforms in the country.

“Without freedom, there is no innovation, so here is my advice. When business grows, so does your country. Democracy requires people to participate. I am very impressed by the Prime Minister's effort to reform your country," he said.

The congressional delegation also visited the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center near Tbilisi on January 2nd.

McCain thanked Georgian soldiers for their contribution to international peace. He singled out the Georgian troops serving in Afghanistan, together with American troops, for special praise.

"They are defending the freedom of the American people, as well as of the Georgian people,” he said.

McCain also spoke about Russia. “In 2008, Russia illegally and imorally invaded Georgia, and then Crimea,” he said. “Intense pressure is also being exerted on the Baltic states …Due to Putin, the world is much more dangerous now.”

Prior to visiting the military base, the US delegation was hosted by the president of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who said that Georgia expected more support from the U.S.

The president's press office reported that the Georgia-U.S. strategic partnership and deepening of economic relations, regional security and the situation in the occupied territories were discussed at the meeting. 

The president thanked the U.S. senators for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, and for visiting the occupation line today. The senators had gone to the village of Khurvaleti, at the boundary line with the breakaway South Ossetia region.

The senators had already paid visits to the Baltic states and Ukraine on their trip.

By Thea Morrison

03 January 2017 11:37