Ambassadorial Forum Concludes American Days in Georgia

On April 22-29, the American Days were held in Georgia. The rich program of events that took place in the capital, as well as in the towns of Kutaisi, Batumi, Telavi and Zugdidi, was capped with an ambassadorial forum on the final day in the former building of the US Embassy to Georgia on Atoneli Street, Tbilisi.

The "In Pursuit of Happiness" forum was inaugurated by Ambassador Ian Kelly. “This month we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of US-Georgia diplomatic relations: enduring friendship based on the sharing of mutual values, including freedom of speech, justice and respect for universal human rights. We are thankful for Georgia’s generous contribution to advancing international peace and security, for Georgian soldiers’ selfless service and sacrifice. The United States government whole-heartedly supports Georgia’s aspiration to become a member of the Euro-Atlantic family. We are committed to the Charter of Strategic Partnership between our two countries to ensure that Georgia develops into a prosperous and democratic country for the benefit of its people”.

The speech of the current first US diplomat to Georgia was followed by speeches delivered by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The opening ceremony was attended by former US Ambassadors to Georgia, Richard Miles, Kenneth Yalowitz, William Courtney, members of the Georgian government and parliament, representatives of international organizations, and the US Embassy staff.

President Margvelashvili pointed to the fact that Georgians and Americans are united by common values, such as freedom, independence and the right to freedom of choice. He underscored the merit of those Georgian and American soldiers who fight together to ensure global security, and honored the memory of those who sacrificed themselves for this important goal. “We have taken further steps in integrating Georgia into the European and Euro-Atlantic family. Without doubt the help of our American friends and allies is very important on this path. We achieved a significant victory on the international arena when we, together with our American allies and friends, set our non-recognition policy against the aggression of Russia. There is no country that questions Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the President claimed.

He went on to recognize that there is much more to do in this regard. “We have to be unified when it comes to the protection of our common goals and values. Clearly, Russia’s aggressive foreign policy toward its neighbors has shown that Georgia’s case was not unique and after Ukraine and Syria, we clearly see that the idea that Russia could be somehow tolerated in this respect was mistaken,” he said.

PM Kvirikashvili spoke of the strategic role of the US in Georgia's political and economic life, highlighting that the US has stood by Georgia's side since it regained independence. “Many friends and allies helped us get to where we are, but firstly the United States. We feel this debt keenly, and we are committed to repaying our part of this bargain to preserve the values we share," he said, going on to describe in detail the US assistance that has played such a vital role in Georgia's development, and offering the audience a brief overview of the country's achievements over the past 25 years. “In terms of our worldview and overall foreign policy, we see ourselves as a modern, Western nation. We have deep and robust relations with the US, European Union and NATO and aim to join those two organizations," the Prime Minister said. “Georgia is not only willing to serve as a corridor and a transport and energy hub in our most complex region but we are also committed to being a stronghold of the US, its reliable partner, and a staunch defender of our shared political, trade, and security interests. In addition to increased security cooperation, we must create closer economic ties between our two countries." Kvirikashvili then thanked the US Ambassadors to Georgia who had worked in Georgia at different times over the past 25 years, for their immense contribution to stronger Georgia-US relations.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to be here today. I met with a lot of friends of mine whom I worked with in that historic period. Georgia has strengthened and developed. I am glad to see that democratic institutions have been strengthened. Georgia and the US have a strong partnership based on mutual values,” said Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz who, like Richard Miles and William Courtney, came to Georgia specially for this day.

Tedo Japaridze, current Advisor to the Georgian Prime Minister in Foreign Relations Issues, served as the first ambassador to the US and Canada in 1994-2002. “We, the representatives of the first generation of Georgian diplomats, have always said that if Georgia has survived, it is thanks to the aid of the US government. This is to the merit of the USA that Georgia today is an independent country,” he said.

Over the past 25 years, the US has given financial assistance worth $4 billion to Georgia.

The American Days 2017 was concluded with a concert featuring American movie soundtracks at the Jansugh Kakhidze Music Center.

Maka Lomadze

04 May 2017 17:00