The US Secretary of State's messages to Georgia – reactions
On June 11, Georgian Prime Minister Mamumka Bakhtadze met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. At the end of the meeting, Pompeo expressed support for Georgia and made several important statements regarding the democratic processes in Georgia, as well as the Anaklia port project.
JAMnews selected Pompeo’s main messages to the Georgian authorities, and how they were received in Tbilisi.
NATO, Russia, military support
– “On the path of NATO membership, you will always have US support.”
– “Georgia fought against Russian aggression for its territorial integrity, against the illegal occupation of Russia by its territories against the background of a cease-fire violation.”
– “The hostile attitude of Russia is another reason that we are proud of our military support of the programme of Georgia’s defense”; “America will continue to provide military support to Georgia in the preparation of manpower and equipment, which will help Georgia in defending its territory.”
– “The current development of Georgia as an independent state, almost a century under Soviet occupation, shows that the country is on the right track.”
Justice, elections and Anaklia Port
Here is the part of Pompeo’s statement that aroused keen interest in Georgia:
– “We support the improvement of the justice system in Georgia and the process of ensuring free and fair elections.”
– “With the Prime Minister, we examined the issues of ensuring the rule of law by the Parliament of Georgia and the fulfillment by the government structures of the promises made to the population.”
– “I expressed the hope that Georgia will complete the implementation of the project [deep-water port of Anaklia]. Its implementation will strengthen Georgia’s ties with free economies and will not allow Georgia to be under the economic influence of Russia or China. These imaginary friends are not driven by good intentions.”
The reaction of the Georgian authorities
– “At the meeting, the state secretary spoke only positively about the reforms carried out by the Georgian authorities to strengthen democratic institutions,” said Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani.
– “There are challenges in the judicial branch of government, and that is why we have started the implementation of the fourth wave of reforms, and we have successfully completed this part of the reform … We are ready to take into account all the recommendations of our partners,” said Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.
– “We fully support the project of the port in Anaklia. We fulfill all our obligations, and moreover, we help consortium members to fulfill their obligations”, said Premier Mamuka Bakhtadze.
The construction project of the first in Georgia deepwater port in Anaklia is being carried out by the Anaklia Development Consortium.
Implementation of the project faced difficulties after businessman Mamuka Khazaradze, head of the TBC Bank group and co-founder of the Anaklia Development Consortium, had problems with the authorities. Because of this, an agreement with the Georgian government has not yet been drawn up, which is the main precondition for foreign investors to invest 400 million USD in the project.
According to experts, the Anaklia port project is the most important of large infrastructural projects currently going on in Georgia. Some ascribe to this project the same significance as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline of the era of Eduard Shevardnadze.
There is much private American investment interested in the project.
For Georgia, this is a major infrastructure project, opening up opportunities for the transport of goods from Central Asia to Europe and back. Port Anaklia can compete successfully with ports in Turkey and other countries in the region.
In total, investment in the project will amount to $2.5 billion.
Opposition and non-governmental sector
– “The messages are very disturbing. The fact that the state secretary decided to voice them publicly means only that the Georgian authorities did not react to these messages until recently”, said deputy from the opposition United National Movement Salome Samadashvili.
– “The statements are extremely disturbing. Especially those relating to justice and democracy. This concerns the functioning of the whole country, this is an indication that the power of Ivanishvili is obliged to hold democratic elections in 2020″, said one of the leaders of European Georgia, Gigi Ugulava.
– “We must take on the justice system. Must hold democratic and free elections. We must build a port in Anaklia and not create problems there … Of course, we must take note of all the comments of the Secretary of State and ensure that the state takes them into account so that there are no issues left in this area”, Executive Director of Transparency International – Georgia Eka Gigauri said.