Statements to the Press with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze As Part of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission

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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo
June 11, 2019
Treaty Room
Washington, D.C.


SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yes.  Look, Georgia is home to an ancient culture and a proud people.  Its history has played out against an incredible backdrop – the tall peaks of the Caucasus Mountains and the shores of the Black Sea.  In the center of its capital city, Tbilisi, is the statue of St. George famously slaying the dragon.  The monument shows who Georgians truly are: fearless and undaunted.

We’ve seen proof of that character ever since we signed the U.S.-Georgia Charter on the Strategic Partnership.  And this year marks a decade, 10 years – a 10-year anniversary of that document.  In the time since, our nations have collaborated closely on issues that range from defense and security, to trade and energy, to strengthening democracy and expanding opportunities for cultural exchange as well.  Throughout this decade, Georgia has shown tremendous resolve in the wake of the 2008 unlawful Russian invasion of part of its territory.  Today it remains an international tourist destination, an important strategic partner for the United States, and a contributor to global security.

In light of my conversation today with the prime minister, I’m pleased to announce that we’re issuing a joint declaration that will commemorate this 10th anniversary of the charter which I mentioned.

The declaration outlines the future direction of our relationship – one we hope will continue to be defined by a close friendship and a broad series of shared commitments.

Georgia’s leadership role as an aspiring NATO ally is just one reason we’re so enthusiastic to work together.  President Trump has called for all nations to do more to resolve global challenges, and Georgia is doing just that in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Even as we speak, 32 brave Georgian soldiers know that they have given their all while serving alongside Americans there, and 870 Georgian soldiers serve in support of NATO’s mission there.

Beyond Afghanistan, Georgia is working to make sure its forces can integrate seamlessly with NATO’s. Further progress on that score will serve our strategic purposes as well, as the Alliance continues its cooperation with Georgia in the Black Sea region.

Georgia’s efforts give me great confidence to speak for President Trump, and all of the United States Government, when I say that you will continue to have the support of the United States as you seek to become a NATO member.

It’s also important to note that Georgia is already at 2 percent of their GDP being spent on defense – the NATO threshold that we have pushed all NATO allies to achieve.  It knows firsthand from experience why deterrence matters, why strong defense matters, why capabilities are of the highest importance:  Georgia has fought to maintain its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression, and Russia’s unlawful occupation of the Georgian territory, and its failure to adhere to ceasefire obligations.

Russia’s belligerence is just one reason we’re proud of our military to support to the Georgia Defense Readiness Program. We are helping train and equip a self-sufficient force that will ensure Georgia’s territorial defense.

And this in turn, too, will provide greater security for the region as a whole – which is good for Georgia, good for the United States, and good for the entire world.

It’s important that everyone recognize, too, that our relationship goes much deeper than this through these security issues.  In our conversation today, I encouraged Georgia’s ongoing effort to improve its judicial system, and to make sure its democracy includes free and fair elections.

The prime minister and I also had the chance to discuss Georgia’s parliament’s responsibility to make sure government agencies act lawfully and deliver what they promise to their citizens.

Finally, I communicated our hope that Georgia completes the port project.  The project and others will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence.  Those pretended friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart.

Georgia’s growth as a free nation after nearly a century of Soviet communism proves it’s on the right track.  We’re proud to be a good partner for them.

We have to keep working together to guard against the risk that these hard-won gains will be lost, and to ensure that Georgia has a continued future anchored firmly in the West.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for being with me today.  Thank you for joining our team.  Thank you for you and Georgia being a good friend and partner to the United States of America.

This translation is provided as a courtesy and only the original English source should be considered authoritative.
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