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U.S. Congressman Weber Concerned over Georgia’s “Backsliding from Democratic Values”

On February 11, Randy Weber, a U.S. Congressman (R-Texas), published a letter addressed to Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, written to express concern “regarding Georgia’s continued backsliding from democratic values and the associated decline of its economic prosperity.” Congressman Weber’s address comes in a series of other letters sent by Congressmen from both sides of the aisle.

In his letter, U.S. lawmaker highlighted areas of concern, including “[Georgian Government’s] decision to forego promised democratic reforms; reports of violence against peaceful protesters; improper targeting and harassment of political opponents, news operators, international and U.S. corporations, and civil society members.”

Congressman Weber noted that last year he joined his colleagues to pass the Georgia Support Act, intended to stress U.S. support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s open challenges to all those areas.

He put a special emphasis on the fact that U.S. support was not intended to prod Georgian government to effect domestic governance that runs counter to “the development of democratic values in Georgia.”

Congressman Weber mentioned the downfall of foreign direct investments in Georgia, as well as Georgia’s deteriorated ranking in the Corruption Perception Index (annual survey conducted by Transparency International). Congressman cited “state capture” and “concentration of power in private hands” from TI’s report as the pressing challenges facing Georgia.

U.S. lawmaker ascribed declining foreign direct investments to the worsening economic climate for U.S. and European businesses, which continue to suffer from “harassment, contract cancellation and expropriation attack.” Congressman Weber mentioned Frontera Resources, an oil and gas company from his home state Texas, as a case in point.

Member of Congress referred to Facebook’s announcement to shut down an extensive network of accounts linked to the ruling Georgian Dream Party, which was blamed for advancing “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in order to crush opposition views in Georgia and advance anti-Western sentiments, especially towards the United States.

Congressman Weber called attention to the fact that, for the first time in Georgia’s history, the country had been cast “in a negative and cautionary light with respect to appropriations legislation from the U. S. government.”

“Calls for consideration of sanction and other penalties [against Georgia] are increasing in the United States”, Congressman said. He further added that he had voiced his support for passing the Georgia Fair Business Practices Sanctions Act, envisaging the said penalties for Georgian state officials.

Concluding his letter, Congressman Weber called on the Georgian government to find “ways to start discouraging actions against U.S. companies, encourage increased foreign direct investment from America, and ultimately find ways to address the warning signs that represent a threat to the freedom and economic prosperity of the Georgian people.”

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