John Kerry’s visit to Georgia. The highlights
John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, paid an official visit to Georgia ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. During the visit, John Kerry met with the Georgian Premier, Giorgi Kvirikashvili and the country’s president, Giorgi Margvelashvili.
‘The most significant’ Memorandum
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘enhancing the defense and security partnership’ between the two countries was the main outcome of the visit. This means that the USA will be again supporting the country in a number of areas, ranging from the defense acquisitions to increased information exchange.
The MoU also envisages the training of operational and tactical personnel, as well as the implementation of the special U.S.-Georgia joint programs, aimed at ensuring the country’s territorial defense.
“There will be more joint exercises, which is important for strengthening Georgia’s defence capacity. And this document is yet another confirmation of very important strategic partnership between Georgia and the USA, Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, stated after signing the Memorandum.
According to the U.S. Secretary of State, the Memorandum includes cooperation on enhanced border, maritime and airspace security and will help Georgia, in general, on its path towards membership in NATO.
The Georgian Defence Minister, Tina Khidasheli, termed the Memorandum as ‘the most significant’ agreement concluded between the USA and Georgia.
“The focus on the assistance to the Georgian Armed Forces has always been associated with the international missions and tied to Georgia’s plans for NATO membership. Today we’ve come an additional agreement, which envisages the fundamental and important assistance in fulfilling Georgia’s territorial defense goals. This is the main message of this Memorandum, Defence Minister Khidasheli stated. In her words, a specific action plan would be drawn up and the implementation of the Memorandum would begin by the end of this year.
It must be noted that embargo on procurement of arms by Georgia was introduced following the August war in 2008.
The USA supports Georgia’s sovereignty
“The United States firmly supports Georgia’s sovereignty, security, prosperity and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations, that’s the message from Washington, with which, as the U.S. Secretary of State himself put it, he arrived in Tbilisi.
In his words, the USA has been urging Russia to comply with its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire deal, including the withdrawal of its troops to their pre-conflict positions.
“The USA remains steadfast in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s occupation and militarization of parts of Georgia’s territory is unacceptable, he stated.
The upcoming elections –‘a democracy test’
As John Kerry pointed out at a news conference in Tbilisi, the October 8 parliamentary elections in Georgia will be another test for Georgia.
“Free and fair elections will be an important step towards greater security, greater stability and prosperity for all of the people of this country, he said.
The U.S. Secretary of State stressed the importance of an electoral environment that would be free from intimidation.
“Georgia has been a model of peaceful democratic change and of improving of electoral conditions for others in the region. Free and fair elections will be an important step towards greater security, greater stability and prosperity for all of the people of this country. In all of our conversations we talked about the need for an electoral environment that is free of intimidation and for continued progress to protect media freedom, stated John Kerry.
Georgia and NATO
John Kerry also reiterated the USA’s readiness to further support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. He stressed that Georgia was one major contributors from NATO’s non-member allies, including its contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
However, it is expected that Georgia is again unlikely to be granted NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Warsaw Summit, which Tbilisi has been so unsuccessfully trying to obtain for the past few years.
The U.S. Secretary assured the Georgia side that although there was a slowdown in the process of Georgia’s integration into NATO due to the international challenges, that should not be viewed as a moment of despair or as a setback.
John Kerry said the U.S. government was firmly committed to NATO’s open-door policy and that it supported the 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration, under which Georgian will become a member of NATO.
“We will stand by this statement again in Warsaw to reaffirm our support for Georgia’s membership, he noted.
As he stated, “There have been reasons for a slowdown in the process, since there are a lot of challenges, including the situation in Ukraine and Syria.
Wine and khachapuri
At a joint news conference with the Georgian Premier, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, John Kerry welcomed the audience in Georgian. Recalling his first visit to Georgia in the capacity of Senator, John Kerry noted with regret: “After sampling the khachapuri and some wonderful wine last time, I don’t understand why I haven’t been back here sooner.
After a two-day visit to Georgia, the U.S. Secretary of State has left for Kyiv, where he is expected to meet with Ukrainian leadership. Afterwards he will travel to Warsaw, where he will accompany the U.S. President, Barack Obama, at the NATO Summit, the U.S. Department of State reported.
- John Kerry previously visited Georgia in December 2008, when he was a Senator.
- The last time the U.S. Secretary of State visited Georgia was in 2012. This post was then held by Hillary Clinton.
- The U.S. President, George W. Bush, paid an official visit to Georgia in 2005.