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Six U.S. Lawmakers Address Pompeo over “Potential Corruption” in Georgia

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Six U.S. congressmen – Texas republican representatives Jodey Arrington, Bill Flores, Will Hurd, Brian Babin, Randy Weber, as well as Markwayne Mullin [R-OK] – addressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with a letter on July 27, in which they express their concern “with the recent decline in democratic governance and potential corruption in Georgia.”

The letter noted that “since the Russian oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and his Georgian Dream Party” came to power in 2012, Georgia has been “backsliding on [its] progress.”

The congressmen stated that “after speaking with [Pompeo’s] colleagues, Cheryl Fernandes and Aaron Rupert, we feel assured that the State Department is doing their best to monitor the continued deterioration of the private sector investment environment, especially for U.S. companies as well as the Government of Georgia’s commitment to continued democratic reform and seek to be a NATO ally.”

Cheryl Fernandes, a long-time U.S. diplomat serves as a Director of the Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts at the Department of State.

Aaron Rupert is a senior Georgia desk officer in the Department of State.

The lawmakers then asked Pompeo to keep in mind while meeting with the Georgian officials, especially Prime Minister Gakharia that

  • “The current government of Georgia led by the Georgian Dream party is being manipulated by Russian oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is making efforts to drive out U.S. businesses that have been contributing to the American and Georgian economy for decades.
  • Activities related to Black Sea ports in Georgia endanger critical American national security interests, including:
  1. The deliberate exclusion of American companies from Black Sea port investments/ownership aimed at insulating Georgia from Russian and Chinese influence; and
  2. Deficiencies in enforcing American sanctions against Iran and Russia, especially and specifically in the context of port activities and other related private sector investments.
  • The fact that the Georgian Parliament still has not passed the necessary electoral reform law which is crucial for the Fall 2020 parliamentary elections to be transparent and fair.”
On June 29, Georgian Parliament passed constitutional amendments over electoral reform, welcomed by the U.S. Department of State. Parliament also passed amendments to electoral code on July 3. – Civil.ge’s editorial note

Concluding the letter, the lawmakers asked the Secretary of State to discuss with them “the actions that will be taken to strengthen our relationship and hold Georgia accountable.”

Congressmen Mullin, Babin, Weber and Arrington have earlier addressed critical letters to the Georgian Government, making the case for Frontera Resources, Texas-based oil and gas exploration company that has a long-running dispute with Georgia.

Georgia’s U.S. Ambassador Davit Bakradze in January criticized the tone of U.S. lawmakers’ letters as “absolutely unacceptable,” stating that “these congressmen have their own reasons to support the company.”

In a surprise u-turn move on July 23, the Georgian Government announced it will not seek to terminate a contract with the U.S. company, despite reportedly winning the dispute against it in the international arbitration court. Frontera slammed the Georgian Government’s announcement as disinformation.

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