Parliament Foreign Relations Committee Hears U.S. Ambassador Dunnigan

On February 28, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Georgian Parliament heard U.S. Ambassador Robin L. Dunnigan, who emphasized the four top priorities of U.S.-Georgia relations:

  • Georgia’s EU integration process,
  • economic ties between the two countries,
  • U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,
  • and finally, the U.S. commitment to preserving Georgia’s cultural heritage.

Amb. Dunnigan reviewed the 32 years of partnership between the two countries. She stressed the continuity of the strong U.S. support for Georgia: “Since Georgia regained its independence, I contend that no country has been a stronger supporter and friend of Georgia than the United States,” noting that the U.S. has provided Georgia with more than USD 6 billion over those years.

She spoke about her meetings with Georgians, including soldiers, coastguard officials, university professors, teachers, students, farmers, and small business owners, highlighting their stories of how U.S. assistance has helped them in their lives. “U.S. support has also contributed to helping Georgia defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” – Amb. Dunnigan said, adding that the U.S. has provided military assistance to the country, including training, equipment, and education. She confirmed that this support will continue in the future.

The U.S. Ambassador spoke about her meeting with the newly appointed Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, calling it “very positive and productive.” She outlined her top priorities as U.S. Ambassador to Georgia. According to her, these priorities are:

“U.S. support for Georgia and its transition to becoming an EU member”

Amb. Dunnigan emphasized that Georgia becoming the EU candidate was a “tremendous step forward.” She reiterated that the U.S. wants Georgia to become a member of the EU.

“I know that you will be working hard in the months and years ahead on the legislation and other work necessary to fulfill the nine steps,” the Ambassador told MPs, adding that “the United States is now and will continue to support you in these efforts.”

She expressed hope that Georgian officials “will also work closely with civil society organizations and all segments of society to advance the process,” adding that Georgia’s path to the EU “will take consensus and unity within Georgian society.”

She noted: “We are now working daily with the EU, Georgia, and others to see how our assistance can best support the work you are doing to fulfill the nine steps.” The Ambassador emphasized that the coming year will be “busy” for Georgia as it works to meet the nine conditions set by the European Commission but also as it prepares for parliamentary elections.

Speaking of the elections, Amb. Dunnigan said that the U.S. “will continue to work with all sides, all of you in Parliament, Government, civil society, opposition parties, and especially with the Central Election Commission, to ensure that Georgians know that their votes are counted fairly, their vote is secret, and the process is free and fair.”

“To increase economic ties between the United States and Georgia”

Noting that U.S.-Georgia bilateral trade reached “a historic high of USD 2 billion” last year, Amb. Dunnigan said that more can be done. She noted that the U.S. has “a wide variety” of programs to help Georgia “in exporting to new markets” and added that this June, she will lead a delegation of Georgian companies to the United States to participate in SelectUSA, the U.S. investment and economic conference.

“By the time I leave this country, I want to be able to say that there is more bilateral trade and investment in our country than ever before,” – Amb. Dunnigan said.

She also emphasized that strengthening economic ties between the countries will include supporting “Georgia’s role in the Middle Corridor.” She mentioned the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which “invested USD 50 million to construct the terminal of Poti Port on the Black Sea, which increased Georgia’s capacity as a link to connect Central Asia with Europe.” Ambassador Dunnigan affirmed that the U.S. will continue this support for Georgia “as it cements itself as a logistics hub in the Middle Corridor.”

“U.S. Commitment to supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”

Amb. Dunnigan underlined the U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, “including by helping Georgia defend itself and deter further aggression.” She said, “Our military partnership is really a pillar of the strategic partnership between the United States and Georgia.”

The ambassador mentioned the joint drills and participation in peace operations of the U.S. and Georgian militaries, arguing that “together they made Georgia’s military interoperable with NATO.” She said this partnership had strengthened both Georgian and the U.S. military. “We are deeply grateful to the Georgian Defense Forces for the support you have provided us through the years,” – she said.

“U.S. Commitment to helping, celebrate and preserve Georgia’s unique and rich cultural heritage”

Regarding support for Georgian culture, the U.S. Ambassador pointed to some specific cases, including the restoration of the Dadiani Palace (in Zugdidi, Samegrelo region). She also mentioned the museum exhibits honoring Georgian writers and other Georgian cultural figures, as well as the work on excavation and conservation of Roman mosaics. “We are pleased to support this, to preserve this heritage so that future legacies will always know Georgia’s rich cultural history,” – Ambassador Dunnigan said.

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