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Georgian MPs Conclude United States Visit

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Georgian parliamentary delegation, led by new Deputy Speaker Kakha Kuchava, and comprised of former Parliament Speaker and current executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee Irakli Beraia, paid official visit to the United States on December 16-19.

Meetings with Congressmen

As part of their Washington D.C. visit, the Georgian delegation met with the co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Georgia Caucus Adam Kinzinger, discussing U.S.-Georgia cooperation, reforms in Georgia and its challenges.

Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (Rep.) and Gerald E. Connolly (Dem.) have recently sent a letter to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, expressing their “growing concern” about Georgian government’s recent decision to backtrack on its key promise of proportional polls from 2020, as well as “the reports of violence against peaceful protestors.”

In his remarks following the meeting, Irakli Beraia told journalists that the letter expresses the U.S. support to Georgia, “which all of us value a lot.” However, he stated that Washington D.C. is being provided with “contradictory information” about the “current processes in Georgia.”

“In response to destructive steps and deliberate attempt of the radical opposition to affect the country’s image abroad, we will continue intensive communication with our partners and provide them with objective information about the ongoing processes in Georgia,” Beraia stated.

At the meetings with U.S. Congressmen, the Georgian lawmakers spoke of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, situation in its Russian-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, as well as the recent detention and sentencing of Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was sent to prison for 21 months by occupied Akhalgori’s court today.

As part of their visit, the Georgian lawmakers held meetings with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, George Kent, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Alan Purcell.

Meetings with U.S.-based international organizations

In Washington D.C., the Georgian delegation held meetings with representatives of international organizations, which among others, included the International Republican Institute (IRI), recently slammed by Georgian Dream’s chair Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Speaking in a talk show with the pro-governmental Imedi TV on November 27, Ivanishvili said “the reputation of the U.S. founded institutions such as NDI and IRI” is “being devalued” by the public opinion polls they publish.

In response, Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a statement, noting that both, NDI and IRI work with all political parties in Georgia without taking sides in Georgian politics.

Following the meeting with the IRI President Daniel Twinig on December 16, Kobakhidze said they discussed “absolutely all the topics,” including cooperation with IRI, as well as current issues, in general.

According to Kobakhidze, at the meeting they focused on the sociological surveys carried out in Georgia, as well as the IRI’s Vice Chair of board of directors, Randy Scheunemann “lobbying” the opposition United National Movement (UNM).

“The main goal for us is to continue cooperation [with IRI]… this cooperation should be result-oriented, and the result should be our country’s development,” Kobakhidze said, adding that Georgia considers the U.S. as its “main strategic partner,” and that IRI is “one of the main institutions of this country, which is working in Georgia.”

“Therefore, it is in our interests to continue very close cooperation [with IRI], and naturally, to agree on the principles that should lay as foundation to this cooperation,” he concluded.

The Georgian delegation also met with representative of the National democratic Institute (NDI), the international Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and USAID.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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