Issue 4, 2016. August-September

   

JOHN KERRY VISITS GEORGIA

During his july 6 visit, the us secretary of state met top officials and members of the opposition. kerry and Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili agreed to increase education exchanges and signed a memorandum on deepening the Georgian-US defense and security partnership.


US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to reinforce strong relations between the US and Georgia during his visit to Tbilisi on July 6.The trip included a pledge of more support for Georgia's defense in a multitude of areas, including new weaponry and information exchange. Kerry also signed a memorandom to more than double the number of Fulbright scholarships for Georgian citizens, from five to 12.

"I have a strong sense of the challenges that Georgia has faced, but we've been proud to be very much a part of helping you define the future. The United States has proudly contributed some $4.3 billion and we are working very hard on the strategic onus of the partnership, defense," Kerry told Kvirikashvili.

AmCham Georgia has praised the trip as a "symbol of America's continued engagement with Georgia."

"Secretary Kerry's visit, the signing of the defense agreement, the commitment to increase support of US-Georgia education programs and his engagement with a wide range of political players, is exactly the kind of continued support that we love to see. It is great to see that senior US government officials remain so engaged and that Georgia is still a priority for the United States," said George Welton, Executive Director of AmCham Georgia.

The US's top diplomat told journalists that the memorandum provides new depth for defense relations between the two countries.

"The memorandum... will support the acquisition of defense and related articles to improve the interoperability, sustainability and deployability of Georgia's forces... to be able to work and cooperate with the other forces of NATO," Civil.ge quoted Kerry as saying.

Among other things, the memorandum includes assistance for education and training, personnel exchanges and will help Georgia "implement the best practices in defense governance."

That includes joint exercises and cooperation on border, maritime and airspace security.

Kerry also met with other members of the cabinent, President Giorgi Margvelashvili and members of the opposition.

He touched on Georgia's NATO aspirations and thanked Georgia for its "efforts in Afghanistan."

The US Secretary of State stressed the importance of the 2016 parliamentary elections.

"Free and fair elections will be an important step towards greater security, towards greater stability and towards prosperity for all of the people of this country. And in all of our conversations we talked about the need for an electoral environment that is free of intimidation and for continued progress to protect media freedom," he said.

Kerry underscored that Georgia has experience at holding good elections and is a "model" for the region.

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