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U.S. House Foreign Committee Adopts Georgia Support Act

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the Georgia Support Act, introduced in February 2021 by Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), the co-chairs of the Congressional Georgia Caucus.

The document [H.R. 923], aiming to support Georgia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, stipulates that the U.S. should support continued development of democratic values in Georgia, its European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and its people’s right to make sovereign choices on foreign and security policy.

The bill asserts that the U.S. should not recognize Georgia’s territorial changes effected by force, including the illegal invasions and occupations of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia by Russia.

Also as per the bill, the U.S. should condemn ongoing detentions, kidnappings, and other human rights violations committed in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, including the recent killings of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli.

Taking the note of U.S. providing Georgia in 2018 with USD 2 mln. assistance under the International Military Education and Training program (IMET) and USD 35 mln. under the Foreign Military Financing program (FMF), the bill says the said assistance should be increased.

According to recently unveiled 2023 budget request by U.S. President, under the FMF, Georgia is set to receive USD 25 mln., a decline from USD 35 mln. In 2021. Also, IMET program envisages USD 1.75 mln for the country, a decrease from USD 2.2 million in 2021 budget.

The bill tasks the U.S. government to enhance Georgia’s capabilities to combat Russian disinformation and propaganda campaigns, while promoting the freedom of the press.

It reads that U.S. should assist Georgia to improve its cybersecurity, to provide Georgia with support necessary to secure government computer networks from malicious cyber intrusions, to support in reduce reliance on Russian information and communications technology.

The document asserts that the U.S. Trade Representative should make progress toward negotiations with Tbilisi to enter a bilateral free trade agreement with Georgia.

Also, according to the bill, U.S. President shall sanction foreign nationals responsible for, complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing the commission of serious human rights abuses in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia forcibly occupied by Russia.

Remarks During Committee Markup

During the April 5 mark-up, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks said “with Russia’s ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine, timing of this bill could not be more important. Russia currently occupies 20% of Georgia’s territory.”

Rep Meeks asserted that “more than ever, these countries [Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova] need to stand together with our full, solid support.”

“Now, Georgia’s progress on the path to democracy and Euro-Atlantic integration has not been perfect,” the Committee Chair continued, adding: “In fact, we’ve seen some troubling trends lately, but I do believe the arc of democracy in Georgia would [trend] in the right direction and it’s critical that the United States support Georgian people on that path.”

Rep Gregory Meeks also spoke of Georgia’s stance on Ukraine.

“In the face of Russian occupation within their own borders, Georgia’s President and the Georgian people have expressed their staunch and public support for Ukraine. And, going forward, it is critical that the Georgian Government speak with one, unified voice.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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