Georgia Congratulates US on Independence Day

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated: “God bless the United States and God bless Georgia,” at the event marking the Independence of the US held at the US Embassy in Tbilisi.

The PM underlined that the relations between the US and Georgia are at the highest level, hoping they would continue to strengthen in the future.

Bakhtadze congratulated Americans on their Independence Day and noted that July 4 is a special day for all nations for whom freedom, independence and the rule of law is of utmost importance.

The Prime Minister thanked the US for standing next to Georgia in the most difficult moments from the day of its independence and noted that the Georgian nation will never forget this.

“We celebrated our 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership in Washington this year. These are 10 years of success - the period when relations between Georgia and the United States have become more productive and strategic,” he said.

Bakhtadze emphasized the importance of the joint declaration on the 10th anniversary of the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership, which includes the topics and priorities that will further strengthen the strategic partnership over the next few years.

"I am confident that these priorities will bring our relationship to a new level and will further strengthen our strategic partnership. Our international aspiration is that Georgia should become a member of NATO and EU and we have full support from the United States,” he said.

The PM said Georgia-US economic cooperation has great potential and Georgia would like to see more American investors do business in Georgia.

Bakhtadze emphasized the US supports the education reform in Georgia and thanked the Millennium Challenge Corporation for their contribution.

The PM added those values, which combine nations that seek liberty, face many challenges.

“Today as never before, we need consolidation and joint efforts and Georgia is ready to take bold steps in this direction," the Prime Minister said.

The History of Diplomatic Relations

The United States recognized Georgia’s independence on December 25, 1991. Georgia previously had been a constituent republic of the USSR. Diplomatic relations between the two states were established on March 24, 1992. After this, the American Embassy in Tbilisi was established on April 23, 1992.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with the newly independent Georgia, the US has provided immense political, military, financial and humanitarian assistance to Georgia. The US has become one of the main international guarantors of Georgia's sovereignty and reiterated strong support of the territorial integrity of Georgia and its Euro Atlantic integration.

On January 9, 2009 the Charter on Strategic Partnership between Georgia and the United States was signed in Washington DC. The US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission comprises four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter: democracy; defense and security; economic, trade, and energy issues; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. In addition to holding a high-level plenary session of the Commission each year, senior-level US and Georgian policymakers lead yearly meetings of each working group to review commitments, update activities, and establish future objectives.

Furthermore, Georgia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Georgia is also an observer to the Organization of American States and a participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace program.

Cooperation in Defense and Security Fields

The US initiated Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) in 2002 which was followed by the Sustainment and Stability Operations Program (SSOP) in 2005. Three Georgian brigades trained under the GTEP and SSOP have been deployed in Iraq under the US leadership in 2005-2008.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry informs that since March 2010 under the US Marine Corps Forces Command, Georgian infantry battalions have been participating in ISAF Operation in Afghanistan. More than 11,000 Georgian troops have been trained since 2010 under the auspices of GDP-ISAF program.

Moreover, one of the important directions of US-Georgia security cooperation is the Biological Threat Reduction Program, which is the priority area of cooperation in the sphere of non-proliferation of WMD. Within the framework of the program Central Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHRL) has been established.

In 2012, the US announced about enhancing defense cooperation with Georgia. Later on, the main directions of Enhanced Defense Cooperation were identified during meetings of both countries’ defense officials.

The aim of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation is to modernize Georgia’s defense system, accelerate defense reforms, increase the level of NATO interoperability and improve self-defense capabilities.

In August 2013, as a result of the meeting between the Minister of Defense of Georgia and US Secretary of Defense, two new areas were added to the list of Enhanced Defense Cooperation.

Last month the US Department of State announced that the US recognizes that a strong and resilient Georgia is best able to stand against the aggressive actions of Russia and defend its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

“We intend to continue enhancing Georgia’s defense readiness so Georgia can maintain a NATO-interoperable military capable of territorial defense, deterring aggression, and supporting global security,” the statement reads.

The United States and Georgia remain committed to the peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict and implementation of the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, including the withdrawal of Russian forces to pre-2008 war positions.

Economic Cooperation

The US assistance in various spheres has increased since the Rose Revolution in November 2003.

The sides have signed a bilateral investment treaty and a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. Georgia can export many products duty-free to the US under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

Through a high-level trade and investment dialogue, the two countries have discussed a range of options to improve economic cooperation and bilateral trade, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. They have also discussed ways to improve Georgia’s business climate to attract more investment, underscoring the importance of continued improvements in rule of law, respect for labor rights, and protecting intellectual property rights.

Georgia was one of the first countries to sign a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation over a five-year period in September 2005. This compact totaling $395.3 million is focused on different projects for rehabilitating regional infrastructure and promoting private sector development.

On June 11, 2013 the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation Board of Directors approved a five-year, $140 million second compact with Georgia to increase the quality of human capital by investing in science and technology, education and workforce development.

In addition to this, the US is deeply interested in diversification of the world energy markets and continuously supports projects in this regard. Georgia is viewed as a favorable transit country for the Caspian oil and gas resources.

On February 25, 2010 the Assistance Agreement was signed between Georgia and the USA. According to the agreement, $122,500,000 as part of the $1 billion pledge will be invested in the development of the Georgian energy sector and infrastructure.

The US Department of State said in June 2019 that they intend to increase bilateral trade and investment, foster internationally accepted business practices, and support Georgia’s aspirations to increase regional connectivity, enhance energy security, and become a transit and logistics hub.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: Georgian Journal

04 July 2019 17:36