US Congress delegation visiting Georgia
A US Congress delegation led by Senator Jean Shaheen and Senator Rob Portman is visiting Georgia on June 2-4. The US Embassy said that the US delegation’s visit to Georgia is “a signal from both American parties in power that the United States is supporting the Georgian people in strengthening country’s democracy”.
“This is very important and it will further strengthen and deepen cooperation with our main strategic partner – the United States. This once again underlines the special importance of our country on the US Senate agenda”, said Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani.
The opposition is not as optimistic about the visit. MP of the deputy of the European Georgia party Lela Keburia stated that the government will not use this visit to bring any good to the country.
“Senators are old friends of Georgia, and they have repeatedly reaffirmed their support for Georgia’s democratic development and countering Russian aggression. But instead of using this visit to take the next steps in developing our country, our government will try to use it against the opposition”, MP Keburia said.
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Senator Shaheen was one of the first Western politicians to condemn the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia in February 2021, describing it as “political persecution.” Senator Shaheen then issued a joint letter with the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jim Risch, which stated that “a political persecution and arrest like that should never happen again”.
In the letter, the senators noted that recent events in Georgia indicate that the country is “abandoning” its obligations to build democratic institutions.
The letter sharply criticizes the processes that took place after the parliamentary elections, including the dispersal of peaceful rallies in front of the parliament building, as well as the clashes between supporters and opponents of the government throughout Georgia.
Jim Risch is a member of the Republican party and the leading senator on the Foreign Relations Committee. Jean Shaheen, a member of the Democratic party, chairs the subcommittee on cooperation in the field of European and regional security.