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White House Names Point Man for Europe
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 19 Mar.'09 / 14:14

The White House nominated on March 11 Philip H. Gordon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, as an Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, to replace Daniel Fried.

Gordon, whose nomination has yet to be approved by the Senate, was Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisor during the presidential campaign, and served as director for European Affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.

Fried, who held the post since 2005, has been the U.S. chief negotiator at the Geneva talks launched after the August war as part of the ceasefire accords.

Philip Gordon traveled to Georgia in summer, 2005 and wrote an article after this trip in which he hailed reforms under President Saakashvili, calling it “a success story.” He, however, listed lack of opposition; free media and budgetary transparency among the Georgian democracy’s problems. He also wrote in the same article four years ago, that death of Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, “robbed the government of its most effective statesmen, who often balanced the sometimes impulsive Saakashvili.”

In March, 2008 – just before the NATO Bucharest summit – he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and advocated for granting NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine. He argued that such decision would have helped to keep both Ukraine and Georgia “moving in the right direction.”

He said that although MAP accession for both of the countries remained controversial - with Russia’s strong opposition and political instability experienced by the both countries – “I believe NATO should respond positively to their requests to join the MAP.”

On Georgia he said in the same testimony year ago: “Despite its recent political problems, including the Saakashvili government’s excessive use of force in response to street protests in November 2007, Georgia has made significant political progress since the “Rose Revolution” of November 2003. The elections that followed the November 2007 turbulence were seen to be free and fair, and were won easily by Saakashvili.”

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