Georgia and the United States are working on how to reflect bilateral strategic partnership in actual actions, Mathew Bryza, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, said in Tbilisi on December 16.
A senior lawmaker from the ruling party, Givi Targamadze, said earlier on December 16 that a draft of a comprehensive bilateral agreement existed, which also included military cooperation.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday evening Bryza said “no agreement exists.” He, however, added: “We are talking to Georgia about the ways to strengthen our cooperation in form of a strategic partnership.”
“What we talked about in details [with the Georgian officials] was U.S.-Georgian cooperation on security and strategic partnership,” he said. “We are still working through how to reflect the beautiful words – strategic partnership – in our actual actions, in our actual life.”
He said that the goal was to help Georgia to fulfill the criteria for membership in NATO.
“We are working in a multilateral framework within NATO through the NATO-Georgia Commission and we are working bilaterally as we structure the new strategic partnership with Georgia to help fulfill NATO’s requirements on military-security, as well as democratic reforms,” he said.
“Beyond that I’d rather not to get in any detail, because we are still developing our ideas,” Bryza added.
The U.S. official also said at the news conference that currently there was “the situation of significant tension” across the breakaway regions’ administrative borders and warned that it was hard to predict what would happen if provocations continued.
“If you look at the threats that South Ossetian militias make to EU monitors; if you look at the shootings at the OSCE observers by South Ossetians and if you look at the terrible incidents in western Georgia coming from the Abkhaz side, including murder of two Georgian policemen by snipers – this is totally unacceptable,” Bryza said.
“These attacks are happening from the territory controlled by the Russian military forces; so Russia has the responsibility to end those attacks on peaceful observers,” he said. “If these dangerous provocations continue, it is difficult to predict what will happen; after all this is Caucasus and bad things happen sometimes.”
Creating mechanisms for preventing incidents across the administrative boundary lines is expected to top the agenda of the third round of the Geneva talks planned for December 17-18.
Bryza said that it was Washington, which takes part in the Geneva talks, wanted “to make sure that every step that we take in the negotiating process brings us closer to restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity and to creating stability and reducing level of military tension, as well as to helping internally displaced persons to return in a dignified and safe way.”
‘Restoring Media Freedom Fully’
Bryza said that he had discussed during his meetings with the Georgian leadership and opposition leaders democratic reforms in the country.
He said that Washington welcomed the Georgian authorities’ plans about new wave of democratic reforms, including in respect of freedom of media.
“We want to see, we hope to see those plans implemented and to the degree that all of you – the journalists here in Georgia – will also concur that media freedoms have been fully restored and that you feel strong momentum on democratic reform being renewed,” Bryza said. “To be fair, we should acknowledge the dramatic progress that has been made in Georgia since November, 2003 and to be fair we should also acknowledge that there is tremendous work left to be accomplished.”