US Secretary of State in Georgia amid political, regional tension – details of talks remain undisclosed
During his visit to Georgia on November 17-18, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Georgian president, PM, FM, and Patriarch Ilia II.
The last meeting was with representatives of non-governmental organizations. None of the opposition leaders were invited to a meeting with the US Secretary of State.
What conclusions Pompeo made when leaving Tbilisi is unknown, since there was no press conference or even a statement for journalists.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, which has been in a state of political crisis for almost three weeks due to the fact that the united opposition has not recognized the results of the parliamentary elections on October 31, Pompeo’s visit was very much expected.
This visit was also important from a regional point of view – after the signing of a truce in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 10, Russian peacekeepers were brought in and have changed the political context throughout the Caucasus.
The opposition held a ‘silent protest’ today with hundreds of people standing in a human chain on central Rustaveli Avenue with banners reading ‘a Russian oligarch stole elections in Georgia.’
Meetings with the leaders of Georgia
What was discussed at meetings with senior officials is known only from press releases.
Pompeo reaffirmed his commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia on behalf of the United States and expressed respect for the country for its significant contribution to the fight against global terrorism.
Pompeo also spoke about the importance of free elections, but as Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani explained to reporters. The US Secretary of State did not say anything specific.
“America cannot and does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Georgia. They only want the situation in Georgia to be stable and call on all politicians to stay within the framework of the political, legal process,”Zalkaliani said.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said the meeting was a reaffirmation that the United States remains Georgia’s main strategic partner and Georgia is the main US pillar in the region.
Meeting with non-governmental organizations
The meeting of representatives of non-governmental organizations with the US Secretary of State lasted 35 minutes, and it was mainly about the problem of corruption in the courts, which are used by the authorities as an instrument of political struggle.
They also discussed the problem of political prisoners, as well as the fate of the Anaklia port construction project in Western Georgia, where impressive American investments have been made.
The problem of rigging the parliamentary elections was practically not discussed, Georgian participants in the meeting told reporters.
“We focused on how dangerous it is for a country’s democratic development when it is ruled by figures who are not formally in power,” Nino Yevgenidze, head of the Center for Economic Policy Research, told reporters, probably referring to the oligarch, head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Protest for Pompeo. Photo report
Hundreds of people silently stood in a human chain on Rustaveli Avenue, with stickers “Falsified!” and banners.
Activists at the Peace Bridge unfurled banners reading “Elections rigged by Russian oligarch.”
Later, the protesters marched to parliament and appealed to the authorities with a demand, which has been heard in Tbilisi for the second month already: to announce new parliamentary elections.