U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, met with Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani in Washington DC on February 4.
“Senator Shaheen and I had a productive conversation with Foreign Minister Zalkaliani today,” Senator Risch said, noting that “after our recent letter to Prime Minister Gakharia, we reiterated our concerns about a weakening of Georgian democracy and governance.”
Senator Risch further stated that the U.S. “remains committed to supporting Georgia’s transition towards democracy, but we must continue to see positive improvements. We are not asking Georgia to be perfect, but the government must show us it is serious about its pursuit of democracy.”
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“We also discussed the current situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian territories illegally occupied by Russia since 2008. The Russian Federation continues to move its fences into Georgia, annexing small bits of land each time,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman added.
On her part, Senator Shaheen said she was “glad to meet with Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani this afternoon” and have the opportunity to address several issues related to their nations’ partnership, “particularly Georgia’s commitment to democracy and good governance.”
“Senator Risch and I have a storied, bipartisan history in support of Georgia’s peaceful transition to democracy,” Shaheen stated, adding that they “participated in Georgia’s historic 2012 election as international monitors and were encouraged with their progress.” “As I’ve said before, democracy is a long-term effort, and Georgia in particular, has faced outsized challenges posed by Russia,” she noted.
“I’ll continue to urge Prime Minister Gakharia and the Georgian government to hold fast to their commitments to strengthen democratic institutions, promote judicial independence, move forward on promised electoral reforms and respect civil society engagement,” Senator Shaheen concluded.
On his part, Georgian Foreign Minister said he had “excellent meeting and exchange of views with great friends of Georgia – Senator Risch and Senator Shaheen. “Their continuous support of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic path, and the country’s democratic and economic development was once again highlighted,” he stated.
Excellent meeting and exchange of views with great friends of Georgia – senators @SenatorShaheen & @SenatorRisch. Their continuous support of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic path, and the country’s democratic and economic development was once again highlighted pic.twitter.com/BXk2dZzhyu— David Zalkaliani (@DZalkaliani) February 5, 2020
Foreign Minister Zalkaliani is visiting Washington DC on February 4-7 to participate in Religious Freedom Alliance meeting. Yesterday, the Georgian FM addressed audience at German Marshall Fund, where he spoke of strengthening transatlantic ties and further enhancing Georgia-U.S. strategic partnership, as well as met with Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA).