Vaccination, elections, Russian aggression on agenda of US Congress delegation visit to Georgia
A US Congress delegation led by Senators Jean Shaheen and Rob Portman has discussed Russia’s aggression, vaccination, and local elections with Georgia’s government authorities, opposition, and civil society representatives in Tbilisi.
US to provide Georgia with Covid-19 vaccines
“The White House has officially confirmed that Georgia will be one of the countries that will receive Covid-19 vaccines from the United States. We do not know the exact numbers, but we are very pleased”, said Senator Jean Shaheen.
Biden administration has released a schedule for the distribution of the first 25 million doses of the US vaccine:
19 million doses will be transferred to the international COVAX platform which will then distribute them as follows:
● Six million doses to the countries of Latin America;
● Seven million doses to the countries of South-East Asia;
● Seven million doses to African countries.
The remaining six million doses will be donated to America’s neighboring countries and partner-states:
● Canada, Mexico, Haiti;
● Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Sector
●Gaza, West Bank Jordan, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen.
Russia’s efforts to intimidate countries that have chosen the Euro-Atlantic path
A congressional delegation had arrived in Georgia to express the support from both parties in the United States, Senator Jean Shaheen reiterated.
The senator spoke in detail about the forced landing of a passenger plane and the detention of a journalist in Belarus, as well as the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea:
“It is clear that Russia is trying to intimidate the countries of the region that have chosen Euro-Atlantic integration and the Western path, because they see a better life than Russia can offer them.
That is why we are here – to support these efforts and to make sure you continue to pursue reforms and strengthen democratic institutions to create more opportunities for Georgian citizens. The United States is a strong partner of Georgia, and we are here to support you and help you in these efforts”.
Local self-government elections of October 2021
The senator noted that the upcoming local government elections will be closely monitored by the international community and the United States.
“I think there will be observers from both Europe and the United States who will monitor the conduct of the elections. That is why I consider it important for Georgia to continue implementing the reform program”, Shaheen said.
Senator Shaheen added that during today’s meeting, the issues were raised of compliance with human rights requirements, free and fair elections, electoral reform, the importance of the April 19 agreement, and the participation of all parties in it were raised.
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Senator Shaheen was one of the first Western politicians to condemn the decision to arrest United National Movement leader Nika Melia in February, describing it as “political persecution”. She then issued a joint statement with the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jim Risch, in which she noted that “the incidents of political persecution and arrests should never occur again”.
Rish and Shaheen also responded to the failure of the parliamentary majority to fulfill the promise to move to a fully proportional electoral system at the end of 2019.
In the letter, the senators wrote that recent events in Georgia indicate that the country is abandoning its obligations to build democratic institutions.
The letter sharply criticized the dispersal of peaceful rallies in front of the parliament building and the clash between supporters and opponents of the authorities.
Jim Risch is a Republican and a leading senator on the Foreign Relations Committee. Jin Shaheen is a Democratic Senator who chairs the Subcommittee on European and Regional Security Cooperation.