On July 8, the United States House Appropriations Committee released its report and accompanying views for the fiscal year 2021 Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill, which also refers to Georgia, ahead of Thursday’s markups.
Possible Withholding of 15% of the Funds
Referring to withholding 15% of assistance funds made available to the central Georgian Government, the detailed report adds that the Secretary of State shall consider whether the Government of Georgia is taking effective steps to:
- effectively implementing electoral reform;
- respecting the independence of the judiciary, including from legislative or executive interference;
- effectively implementing the necessary policies to ensure accountability and transparency, including unfettered access to public information;
- protecting the rights of civil society, opposition political parties, and the independence of the media; and
- limiting the informal influence of oligarchs over functions of government and the application of laws and regulations.
Noteworthy that 15 % of the funds that may become conditional on Georgia’s democratic performance refer to the aid made available under Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia amounting to a total of at least USD 88, 025, 000.
The Committee directed the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator to prioritize programs aimed at strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions to promote transparency and good governance. It added that “ongoing threats by the Russian government underscore the importance of continuing United States foreign assistance to former communist countries, including Georgia, in their continued efforts in areas of democracy and the rule of law.”
Detailed Breakdown of the Assistance
The Committee recommended not less than USD 132,025,000 to be made available from funds in the Act for assistance for Georgia.
USD 88, 025, 000, as mentioned, will be made available under Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia. Georgia will also receive USD 35,000, 000 under the foreign military financing program; additional USD 5,700, 000 will be allocated for the country for international narcotics control and law enforcement.
Further, Georgia will receive USD 2, 200, 000 for International Military Education and Training and USD 1, 100, 000 under Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs.
Georgia – a Critical U.S. Ally
Recommending continued support for “critical allies” – including Georgia -“who are on the front line in opposition to renewed Russian aggression,” the committee maintained that the security and stability of U.S. allies directly affect the United States.
The Committee said it “remains concerned” by Moscow’s cyber-attacks against Georgia and other security partners and allies, adding that it directs the Secretary of State to prioritize funding to assist U.S. partners “in improving their cybersecurity capabilities and resilience to hybrid threats and information warfare, including through both bilateral assistance and assistance through multilateral initiatives to counter such threats.”
The Committee noted that it continues the prohibition of funds for the central governments of the countries recognizing the independence of or having established diplomatic relations with the Russian-occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.