During a meeting with a group of local residents in one of Tbilisi’s neighborhoods late on June 6, President Saakashvili spoke once against about the visit of U.S. Secretary of Clinton and said that Georgia received more than just kind words from this visit.
He said during the televised meeting, that the visit stressed “how important our small country is for rest of the world” and “no matter of global problems, Georgia anyway remains in the center of attention for the most influential powers.”
“But it was not a visit just to tell us: ‘you are good guys’. That’s not something I am asking foreign leaders for. Previously we liked it when we were told: ‘you are good guys’. They still keep on telling this to us, but it is not enough for me anymore,” Saakashvili said, adding that what matters is to receive tangible results and Georgia was getting those results.
Saakashvili said that the U.S. “has announced for the first time, after many years of hesitation, that the U.S. will train the Georgian armed forces and assist us in monitoring our land, coast and skies; in equipping Georgia including with helicopters.”
“The U.S. does it very rarely... This [assistance] means that an additional, very important element has emerged in our security and this is a long-term guarantee for our development,” Saakashvili said.
Secretary Clinton said on June 5, that the U.S. would provide support to Georgia to “better monitor your coasts and skies”; would “upgrade Georgia’s utility helicopter fleet” and would help Georgia give its officers “the 21st century training they need for today’s changing missions.”
Saakashvili also said that the U.S. was referring to Georgia’s breakaway regions as “occupied” territories and Washington would now accept status neutral travel documents, which, he said, “will allow residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to travel to the U.S. with documents issued by Georgia.”
“This is a very important step forward towards legitimizing our rights over occupied territories,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 6, that U.S. support and Secretary Clinton’s remarks made during her visit in Georgia would fuel “revanchist aspirations of Tbilisi”; the Russian Foreign Ministry drew parallels with the situation ahead of the August war and said now it had “a sense of déjà vu”.
Asked about the Russian reaction to Clinton’s remarks and whether there was a dangerous situation with risk of resumption of hostilities, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on June 6: “I don’t want to hype this up too much, that it’s becoming a dangerous situation.”
“The Secretary had a very successful visit,” he continued. “We reiterated our core commitments to the Georgian people, to the government of Georgia, to its sovereignty. There’s no surprise that this is an area of major disagreement between us and Russia. It’s been that way for some time, and we talk about this when we talk about the reset, that there are areas in which we can constructively cooperate, where we can make real progress on, but there are areas or redlines, as Vice President has said in the past – such as Georgia. But, we’re not going to back away from in our position.”
During an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster, before she left Batumi on June 6, Secretary Clinton was asked about Georgia’s concerns that Russia might resume hostilities and if there were any international guarantees for that not to happen. Clinton responded, that “there’s no way to give anyone ironclad guarantees”; she added, that the progress that Georgia had made in the last four years “has drawn the world’s attention” and there was an international awareness of Georgia and its aspirations, “which I think sends a strong signal that the people of Georgia deserve to chart their own future.”
“Since we strongly support the territorial integrity and independence of Georgia, and we don’t recognize the secessionist areas – hardly anybody else does either – I think there are other things that need to be concentrated on by all of us. The United States, Russia, the European Union, we have a lot of issues that we have to deal with economically, security. We’ve got this terrible problem in Syria,” Clinton said.
“So I imagine there will still be rhetorical volleys going back and forth, but certainly it’s my hope that nobody provokes anything, that the secessionist areas don’t provoke anything, that everybody just keeps working to improve Georgia. That’s my hope,” she added.
President Saakashvili also said in his June 6 speech that launch of exploring by the U.S. possibility of free trade agreement with Georgia was another important concrete result, which should eventually lead to increase of foreign investments and creation of additional new jobs in Georgia.
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