Remarks at the United States Congress by Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

29 October, 2015

Honorable Congressman Connolly,
Honorable Congressman Poe,
Esteemed Members of the United States Congress
Dear Friends,

Today we are witnessing an extraordinary demonstration of friendship between Georgian and American peoples. Registration of the Georgia Caucus is an act of profound appreciation and commitment that our peoples have showed to each other ever since Georgia became an independent state almost 25 years ago.

Our relationship always evolved around democratic values. Even when Georgia had to go through difficult times of crises and foreign aggression, we never ceased transforming our Government and society toward the democratic ideals. The United States’ contribution to the establishment of democracy in Georgia has been fundamental and always greatly appreciated by our people. Through economic and political aid, your great nation helped Georgia to establish and strengthen independent statehood, build effective state institutions, and liberalize our economy.

Georgia made a breakthrough three years ago, when power transfer happened in a democratic and non-violent way. Since then, we demonstrated that building democracy, protection of human rights, and upholding the rule of law is possible even in the most challenging security environments. Our Government established a genuine system of political checks and balances and ensured that the law-enforcement, judicial, and penitentiary systems were effective, independent, transparent, and, also, truly depoliticized. Georgia’s open governance is improving by every year, and protection of property rights is one of the hallmarks of our achievements. We have achieved a lot, but there is still more to accomplish.

Our democratic transformation helped to further strengthen the strategic relationship between Georgia and The United States. We fought and we fight together for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our soldiers are sealing our friendship with their heroic deeds.

Above all, Georgian-American friendship demonstrated to the entire world that Georgia is a deserving member of international community, worthy of membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Indeed, integration in Euro-Atlantic Structures was and remains the ultimate foreign political goal of Georgia, and we count on our American partners in realizing Georgia’s national aspirations.

Our path to Euro-Atlantic integration has been difficult. Georgia paid heavily for the dream of liberty and democracy. 20 per cent of Georgia’s territory has been occupied by Russia, and the Russian authorities continue creeping annexation of the occupied regions – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, also known as South Ossetia.

We knew that Russia’s aggression against Georgia was not a singular event. Invasion of Ukraine last year and annexation of Crimea showed clearly that Russia remains a very serious problem for regional and international security. The United States took steps to mobilize international community to face Russian aggression against Ukraine. Yet, there is urgent need for more coordinated response to aggression and attempts of carving an exclusive sphere of influence.

The truth is that the international community cannot face each crisis in our region in isolation. If we leave aggression unanswered, then “frozen conflicts” will proliferate and grow into regional crises after one another. Therefore, we need a more coordinated response that draws red lines for aggressors.

The United States never accepted violation of international borders, occupation and annexation of smaller countries’ lands. Refusal to recognize the annexation of Baltic States by the Soviet Union 75 years ago gave the courage and determination to these states to fight to regain their freedom and independence. Now we are looking to the United States for support in these critical times. 

The United States Congress should take a lead in ensuring independence and territorial integrity of the nations in our region. It is of crucial importance that the United States leads the way not only by demonstrating courage and resolve in the face of aggression but also by expanding trade opportunities that American spirit of entrepreneurship can offer to our nations. We believe that the United States should encourage free trade with the region and Georgia is ready to be the conduit of America’s business interests in the region. Three years ago President Obama inaugurated the High Level Trade Dialogue with Georgia, and we are ready to be the regional leaders in establishing free trade with the United States. We believe that free trade not only opens business opportunities and creates wealth but also strengthens democracy and builds the rule of law. 

Dear Congressmen,

Your determination to draw legal red lines against aggression in our region is crucial, as your efforts are directed to future, and Georgian people are grateful to you. The Resolution you are introducing is laying the foundations for a coordinated effort to check the aggression. And the letter you have signed about Georgian-American free trade is helping us to look with the hope to bringing our relationship to a new level.

I wish the Georgia Caucus a success in its endeavours, and once again, thank you for your friendship and leadership. 

Thank you.