Wicker, Cardin Support Georgia Against Russian Occupation

On July 17, the US Helsinki Commission held a hearing 'On Violations of the OSCE Principles and Commitments by the Russian Federation, and Severe Human Rights Situation in the Illegally Occupied Regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia'. David Bakradze, Ambasador of Georgia to the United States, along with Damon Wilson of the Atlantic Council of US and Luke Coffey of The Heritage Foundation, participated during the hearing.

Ten years after the Russian invasion of Georgia, the Helsinki Commission convened to explore the current conflict state, involvement of the US, and steps for policymakers to achieve peaceful cooperation and restoration of Georgia's occupied regions. Moreover, the hearing discussed the integration of Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic community. 

Ambassador Bakradze testified before the hearing and discussed the vital situation of Georgia's occupied regions. He shared Russia's ongoing illegal actions and the deprivation of human rights in the occupied regions, and highlighted Georgia's steps towards a peaceful resolution. Senator Roger Wicker and Senator Ben Cardin reaffirmed their support for Georgia against Russian occupation. 

Senator Roger Wicker, Chairman of the US Helsinki Commission, opened the Senate Hearing: "We also intend to ensure Georgia’s contribution to our common security recognition as we advance along the path to Euro-Atlantic integration and full NATO membership".

“Mr. Ambassador I want to congratulate Georgia on the progress that you are making on the rule of law and independent judiciary and all of the things that we look for, in countries that would like to join the Western Alliance. We are not going forget you. We are going to continue speaking up about this, we are going to be guided by the testimonies of the three outstanding witnesses today," Senator Wicker added.

Senator Ben Cardin reconfirmed his support: "I was pleased to see at the NATO summit [last week], that the Bucharest summit that committed us to the full membership of Georgia in NATO was reaffirmed. The final document reinstates and reemphasizes our commitment, Mr. Ambassador, to Georgia’s full membership in NATO. We are committed to that. We want Mr. Putin to know it is not up to him, it’s up to people of Georgia, it’s up to the NATO partners.”

“Georgia enjoys widespread bipartisan support across the US Government, Congress, and Administration. The Geo-US bilateral relationship has never been stronger and continues to strengthen under the current Administration, which has repeatedly stated its opposition to the Russian occupation of Georgian territories and its being against Georgia’s NATO integration process. The US Congress has always been vocal on these very important matters for Georgia. We believe that this durable and long-term cooperation between the US and Georgia has transformed into a very solid strategic partnership and will gradually form a very strong alliance.

It is the time that this political support is further reinvigorated in practical steps in order to ensure the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and comprehensive peaceful settlement in my country. We believe through consistence and hard work we can lay the ground for lasting peace and security in Georgia. In that regard, I would like to emphasize the necessity of the peaceful conflict resolution to be placed high in the international discussion as well as in the US dialogue with Russia. Strong leadership of the United States is essential to reach progress in the resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict.

"The Human Rights situation remains alarming, with fundamental rights of the local population infringed on a daily basis in occupied regions. Against the backdrop of intensified ethnic discrimination, restrictions on free movement, illegal detentions and kidnappings, deprivation of property rights, prohibition of education in native language and other ethnically based violations, the local population is deprived of minimal safeguards for their lives," ", said Ambassador David Bakradze. "The reconciliation and engagement policy remains our priority and we have even reinvigorated our efforts by presenting new opportunities through the new peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future”. At the same time, international support is decisive in order to succeed in the peaceful conflict resolution process."

The Helsinki Commission convenes public hearings on OSCE-related issues, which regularly include testimonies from senior members of the US Administration; foreign ministers of OSCE participating states; and high-level representatives from international organizations such as the United Nations.

By Anna Zhvania

Source: Embassy of Georgia to the United States

Photo Source: 1tv.ge

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18 July 2018 16:05