Assistant to the United States President for National Security Affairs, John Bolton visited Georgia on October 25-26. Today, he met with Georgia’s leadership, discussing the U.S.-Georgia bilateral relationship and the situation in the region.
Bolton said at the press conference later on today that his meetings with Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani, Defense Minister Levan Izoria and Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia were “very positive and very productive.”
“From my part, I stressed how important the U.S.-Georgia relationship was; we consider it one of our highest priorities; it’s in the strategic areas of interest for the United States,” Bolton said, noting that U.S. has been “strong supporter” of Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity from the times of collapse of the Soviet Union, and that their position has not changed throughout the entire period.
The U.S. advisor also underscored that with PM Bakhtadze and his top security team, they talked about ways “to broaden and deepen the bilateral relationship” and on how they could work together throughout the region. According to Bolton, he discussed the region with some of the cabinet officials in Russia as well.
The National Security Advisor also reiterated the U.S. support for Georgia’s NATO aspirations, and noted that is something that needs “appropriate timing.” According to Bolton, he discussed the ways to enhance bilateral military relationship with the Georgian officials, which he will be considering further back in Washington.
He said there are a lot of opportunities on the economic side to increase American trade investment in Georgia as well. “Almost everybody I spoke with talked about Georgia’s desire to have a free trade agreement with United States,” Bolton said, noting that that’s “certainly something worth looking into.”
At the press conference, Bolton also answered a couple of questions of Georgian reporters, including on the country’s October 28 presidential elections.
Bolton said “it is in Georgia’s interests to have a completely open and transparent election.” “That’s one of the strength of representative government. People vote, you have confidence in the integrity of the electoral system,” he said, hoping for “free and fair election.”