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Four US Congressmen Address Georgian PM with ‘Concerns over Political Targeting, Declining Economic Trend’

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The four Members of the U.S. Congress, House Georgia Caucus Co-Chairs Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), sent a letter to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia on January 21, in which they raised “grave concerns over political targeting and a declining economic trend that spells trouble for Georgia’s path towards democratic reform and Western integration.”

The Government of Georgia publicized the letter on January 22.

“We write as Members of Congress that have been longtime supporters of Georgia’s path toward democratic reform and Western integration,” the four Congressmen wrote, also noting that “however, as some of us expressed to you in our letter from December 13, 2019, we are concerned over the decision to forego promised democratic reforms and the associated violence against peaceful protesters.” “We are also alarmed by the politicization of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port project,” they stressed.

The Congressmen further underlined that “as Georgia moves toward the 2020 parliamentary elections under Georgian Dream’s leadership, we continue to encourage you to protect the legitimacy of these elections and ensure they are guarded against both internal and external interference.”

“In your response letter, dated December 17, 2019, you pledged that the 2020 elections would be held to the highest standard,” the Congressmen wrote to PM Gakharia, adding that “yet, recent reports indicate that Facebook had to shut down an extensive network of accounts funded by Georgian Dream.” “The fact that these accounts were apparently spreading anti-democratic, anti-Western sentiments is simply unacceptable,” they said.

The Congressmen further underlined that “additionally, we are troubled by reports that prosecutors appointed by Georgian Dream are reopening old legal cases against the party’s opponents. While some of these cases have merits, others are perceived as targeting leading opposition political figures, news operators, international corporations, and civil society members.” They stressed that “respect for the rule of law and an impartial justice system are key to a healthy democracy and to ensuring free and fair elections, which were guaranteed by your party.”

The Congressmen then underscored that “despite the promise shown over the past three decades, recent democratic and economic trends are negatively affecting Georgia’s image in the United States.” “Unfortunately, economic indicators show a sharp decline in foreign direct investment in Georgia, as American and European companies have suffered harassment, causing many to reconsider their business ventures,” they further stressed.

In this respect, the four Congressmen noted that “Georgian Dream’s perceived political targeting of the U.S.-backed Anaklia Development Consortium has now deterred or prevented investment from American companies in this important project,” further stressing that “these developments seem to reflect an increasingly unfavorable business environment and could deter future U.S. investment in Georgia.” They also wrote to Georgian Prime Minister that “Georgia could be a vital hub for goods traversing from the United States and Europe to Central Asia, and vice versa, which would serve as a boon for the Georgian economy.”

The Congressmen further stressed that “decreased foreign investment not only hurts the Georgian people and their hopes for deeper integration with Western institutions, but it also strengthens Vladimir Putin’s hand in the region.”

The letter stressed that these concerns are raised “with the hopes of strengthening Georgia as a democracy and of preventing the broad bipartisan and bicameral support that Georgia enjoys in the halls of Congress from being negatively impacted.”

“We hope that your government will work with the United States Congress, Ambassador Kelly Degnan, the European Union, and non-governmental organizations to strengthen democratic institutions and enhance economic prosperity for the Georgian people so that Georgia can continue to be a strategic partner of the United States for many years to come,” the Congressmen concluded.

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

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