U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary Meets Opposition Leaders

U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker on June 7 met opposition leaders from the United National Movement, Lelo, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Republican Party as well as independent lawmakers.

The opposition leaders delivered remarks to the press before the meeting began. UNM Chair Nika Melia said he would talk with the U.S. State Department official about the “increasing” Russian influence “both within the country and in the region.”

Strategy Aghmashenebeli leader Giorgi Vashadze on his part noted the key discussion topic would be implementing the EU-brokered April 19 agreement, a document which Vashadze argued “began a completely new process of cooperation [with the country’s partners], as it outlined a plan for Georgia’s integration into the West.”

MP Davit Bakradze, formerly of the European Georgia, said the opposition leaders planned to raise the issues of judiciary and electoral reforms, media freedom and alleged political persecution at the meeting.

Besides the three, MP Khatia Dekanoidze of UNM, MPs Badri Japaridze and Ana Natsvlishvili of Lelo, MP Salome Samadashvili, formerly of the UNM and MP Khatuna Samnidze of the Republican Party were in attendance.

The meeting followed the Acting Assistant Secretary’s June 7 discussions with civil society representatives, media advocacy groups and Government officials, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze.

After sitting down with the opposition leaders, the Acting Assistant Secretary concluded his first stop in Tbilisi, to continue his trip to Baku and Yerevan. As the U.S. State Department official stated, he plans to return to the Georgian capital later in the week.

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