On May 15, the four U.S. lawmakers – Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Congressmen Jodey Arrington (R-TX19) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) – penned a starkly worded letter, addressing the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, expressing their concern about “deteriorating good governance and potential illicit financial activities in Georgia.”
In a starkly worded missive, Senators and Congressmen wrote that “Georgian ties to American hostile rivals and enemies, which are coming at the expense of our geostrategic and business interests” call for “a broad response” from the federal government.
They called out the ruling “Georgian Dream” party and its leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, asking the two secretaries to brief them on the degree to which
- “The current government of Georgia led by the Georgian Dream party is implicated in efforts to crowd out legitimate American businesses, which have invested in Georgia’s economy and future.”
- “Any such activities are motivated by geopolitical considerations, including reported ties between Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the Georgian Dream party, and the Russian government.”
- “Activities related to Black Sea ports in Georgia endanger critical American national security interests, including
- The deliberate exclusion of American companies from port construction aimed at insulating Georgia from reliance on Russia
- Deficiencies in enforcing American sanctions against Iran, especially and specifically in the context of port activities.
The letter highlighted that “over the last year, foreign direct investment into Georgia decreased by nearly 50%—while taxes and bureaucratic barriers have increased for Western businesses.” ‘These good governance issues have directly undermined the ability of American companies to operate in, and deepen our relationship with, Georgia,” it noted.
Long list of concerns
The long list of concerns, enumerated in the letter, point mainly to the U.S. lawmakers’ concerns related to the Georgian port infrastructure and operation of the American companies, as well as to allegations of Georgia knowingly acting as a conduit to interests and powers hostile to the United States.
The four Senators and Congressmen name Frontera Resources, a Texas company “has been targeted with stifling regulations and restrictions and now faces possible expropriation from the Georgian government,” while another American company “Conti Group, was in a similar way pushed out of a consortium building a port facility in Anaklia, leaving the project stalled.”
The senders stated that “complications and controversies” for American businesses in Georgia are deeply marked by geopolitical implications.” It says “as legitimate business has been pushed out, illicit trade has taken its place.”
“The country’s Western orientation coupled with its plentiful ports makes it an ideal target for the Iranians,” adding that “recent reports suggest that the port in Batumi has again emerged as a target for Iranian illicit oil activities.”
They say Georgian financial system has been “notorious” since 2013 for ” circumventing American sanctions on Iran”.
Call to good governance
Noting the contribution of Georgia to NATO mission in Afghanistan, the Senators and Congressmen said “a robust U.S.-Georgian partnership is a necessity for American interests, which in turn requires Georgia to return to and bolster good governance.”
Calling for a broad response from the federal government about above-mentioned, the four senders concluded that “as always, we stand ready to provide you with the resources that you need to assert and defend American national security.”
- Conti International to Quit Anaklia Development Consortium
- Georgian Infrastructure Ministry on Conti Group’s Decision to Quit Anaklia Consortium