On January 23, a member of the U.S. Congress, Brian Babin (R-TX) wrote a letter to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia “because of delayed reforms and a declining climate for U.S. investment in Georgia.” Congressman Babin said he is writing to “add my voice to increasing concerns regarding Georgia’s continued backsliding from democratic values and the associated deterioration of its economic prosperity.”
“With this in mind, I join with my colleagues in Congress who represent the Georgia Caucus, Chairman Adam Kinzinger and Chairman Gerry Connolly, in their recent letter to you of December 13, 2019 that highlighted concern over the decision to forego promised democratic reforms, as well as reports of violence against associated peaceful protests,” Congressman Babin said, further noting that he shares the message conveyed by Congressman Markwayne Mullin’s recent letter to PM Gakharia.
As a member of the @housesciencegop Committee, I wrote this letter to Georgia's PM because of delayed reforms & a declining climate for U.S. investment in #Georgia, especially for energy companies here in the U.S. Energy Independence = Freedom! @TvMtavari @TV_Imedi @TVSGeorgia pic.twitter.com/hL5J33oszm
— Brian Babin (@RepBrianBabin) January 24, 2020
U.S. Congressman also noted in the letter that “last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Georgia Support Act which is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.” He then stressed that “the most prominent principle that was deliberately highlighted first and foremost in the text of this Act is the following:
“… The United States Policy
It is the policy of the United States to –
- Support continued development of democratic values in Georgia, including free and fair elections, public sector transparency and accountability, the rule of law, and anticorruption efforts;”
“It is in the spirit of this policy that I write to you because of a noticeable increasing negative trend in Georgia’s democratic and free-market economic indications that has become a subject of concern among members of the United States Congress,” Congressman Babin stated.
He then noted that “the result of this trend is that foreign direct investment in Georgia is on the decline because U.S. and European business interests have been subjected to harassment, contact cancellation and expropriation attack.” A member of Congress said “a notable example of this is the oil and gas company from Houston, Texas, Frontera Resources.”
U.S. Congressman then spoke of Facebook’s removal of “an extensive network of accounts linked to the ruling Georgian Dream Party that were found to advance “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in order to crush opposition views in Georgia and advance anti-Western sentiments, especially towards the United States.” Congressman Babin said he find’s Facebook’s announcement “alarming.”
Congressman Babin further noted that “because of this deteriorating environment, the President of the United States has signed into law two consecutive annual appropriation bills from the U.S. Congress for 2019 and 2020 that have specifically addressed concerns regarding the Georgian government’s progressively antagonistic actions against democratic values, free-market principles and America business interests.” He stressed that “for the first time in Georgias modern history, your country has been cast in a negative and cautionary light with respect to appropriations from the U.S. government.”
A member of congress then stated that “because of the negative trend I have described, and in an attempt to encourage a reversal, calls for consideration of sanctions and other penalties are increasing.”
In this regard, Congressman Babin said that he has joined “this growing number of Congressional members in the call for reform by co-sponsoring the Georgia Fair Business Practices Sanctions Act that has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The Congressman further noted that “I sincerely hope that Georgia will continue to be a strategic partner of the United States for many years to come by building its democratic institutions and free-market economy on a strong foundation of “free and fair elections, public sector transparency and accountability, the rule of law, and anticorruption efforts.”
“With this in mind, I also hope that your government will find ways to halt aggressive actions against U.S. companies and work to stop the increasing warning signs that represent a threat to the democracy, economic prosperity and freedom that is the natural God-given right of all Georgian people,” Congressman Babin concluded.