The five U.S. Congressmen concluded their Georgia visit on September 8, after meeting with Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, Economy Minister Natia Turnava, ruling Georgian Dream and opposition party MPs, as well as the Orthodox Patriarch, Ilia II.
The delegation – Alexander Xavier Mooney (R-WV), Bryan George Steil (R-WI), Kelly Michael Armstrong (R-ND), Carol Devine Miller (R-WV), and Ronald Gene Estes (R-KS) – discussed with Defense Minister Burchuladze security in South Caucasus and the Black Sea region, threats posed by Russia, and the situation in the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions, the Georgian Defense Ministry reported on September 8.
“Today we got more in depth about the need for U.S. presence in Georgia,” said Rep. Mooney, adding “the Defense Minister mentioned that they would be interested in having U.S. troops here as a continuing presence for training, exercises, for protection.”
Trade and investment ties was the key topic of discussion at the Congressmen’s meeting with Economy Minister Natia Turnava. The Georgian Minister asked them for support in negotiating a U.S.-Georgia free trade deal, the Economy Ministry reported on September 9.
The congressmen also met Georgian Dream MPs Maka Bochorishvili, Irakli Beraia, Giorgi Khelashvili and Irakli Chikovani, discussing further increase in bipartisan support to Georgia, the Parliament’s press service reported yesterday.
The U.S. House of Representatives also held a meeting with opposition parties, including United National Movement, European Georgia, Lelo, Droa, and Girchi – More Freedom.
In their comments to reporters after the meeting, opposition leaders, said they informed the U.S. lawmakers about foreign threats and growing Russian influence, the pressure on media and political parties in Georgia, July 5 events, implications of GD’s withdrawal from the EU-brokered April 19 deal and the refusal of the EU loan, the importance of upcoming local elections.
Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom said the Congressmen were especially interested in Georgia’s current standing vis-a-vis Russia and the difference of views between the ruling and opposition parties. UNM MP Khatia Dekanoidze remarked they were interested in learning more about the “infiltration” in Georgia by Russian security services.
Also yesterday, the Congressional delegation met with Georgian orthodox Patriarch Ilia II.
The delegation, previously, had met with PM Irakli Garibashvili and Foreign Minister David Zalkaniani. They also visited the Russian occupation line of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in Odzisi village. The lawmakers are the co-sponsors of the Georgia Support Act, a bipartisan draft resolution reintroduced at the Congress in February 2021.