Georgia Loses a Friend

John McCain, who lost his battle against cancer yesterday aged 81, was considered by many a friend to Georgia, often positioning himself as a defender of the country's interests.

In 2007, he supported the bill to support efforts to bring Tbilisi and Kyiv into NATO. On August 26, 2008, after the "August War", McCain stated: "After Russia illegally recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Western countries should think about the independence of the North Caucasus and Chechnya, which was subjected to bloody violence by Russia."

He often criticized the Kremlin's actions, once stating "American foreign policy should reflect the sobering conclusion that the Russian government that does not share our most basic values cannot be a friend or partner." He also believed that "President Vladimir Putin is a greater threat to international security than the extremist group Islamic State."

In autumn 2009, the Georgian Association in the US awarded the senator for supporting Georgia during the August conflict. On giving McCain the award, then-President Mikhail Saakashvili stated that McCain "was on the main front line when Russia announced open war against us. He gave up his campaign ... and for a few days he came to Georgia."

McCain tirelessly fought for the idea that Georgia should become part of Europe, united and free. 

"Vladimir Putin illegally annexed part of Georgia," he said. "One day Georgia will regain its unity, freedom and independence."

John McCain visited Georgia in January 2017 to hold meetings with the country's top leadership. While here, he visited the village of Khurvaleti on the occupation line of the Tskhinvali region, and met with Georgian and American soldiers in the territory of the NATO-Georgia training center (JTEC).

"The lives of thousands of people were destroyed because of Russian aggression," he said at the time. "These people deserve the restoration of the life they had before the actions of Russia. I firmly believe that the position of the administration of the new president of the United States [Donald Trump], the Senate and Congress with respect to Georgia's support, will not change. We will work in this direction to continue supporting Georgia and continue the exercise program for the Georgian army, "McCain said.

McCain also added: "I believe that we must continue to improve relations between us and we must understand that if we are not together, then for Putin it will be a chance to win." 

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili spoke of the death of his friend, American Senator John McCain.

"On behalf of the Georgian people and personally, I express my sincere condolences over the death of Senator John McCain. The Georgian people lost a great friend who always stood beside our country."

By Dimitri Dolaberidze

Main photo: Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham photographed during their visit to Georgia. Photo from US Department of State.


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26 August 2018 11:10