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Biden Addresses Parliament
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Jul.'09 / 19:48

• Military cooperation to focus on training;
 ‘Reset not to come at expense of Georgia’
 ‘Be prosperous to restoring territorial integrity’
U.S. ‘Fully Supports’ Georgia NATO Aspiration
 U.S. to support ‘fulfilling Rose Revolution promises’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in his speech delivered in the Georgian Parliament on July 23, that he arrived in Tbilisi with “simple, straightforward message – we the United States stand by you on your journey to a secure, free, democratic and once again united Georgia.”

He said that his visit “comes deliberately right after President Obama’s trip to Moscow.”
 
Biden said that last August, when he “sat on a rooftop of a restaurant with President Saakashvili, as sound of artillery fire and fighter aircraft punctuated the night” he expressed support to Georgia in his status of a senator.

“Here today I pledge it [support] again as the Vice President,” Biden told the Georgian lawmakers, who interrupted him for number of times for applause, mainly when the Vice President was speaking about issues related to support of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Biden said he knew that there were some concerns in Georgia that the U.S. efforts to reset relations with Russia would come at the expense of Tbilisi.

“Let me be clear: they have not; they will not and they can not,” Biden said.

He said the United States was against of “19th century notion of spheres of influence; it has no place in the 21st century.”

Biden stressed in his speech that Georgia was "one of the highest per-capita recipients of U.S. aid in the entire world." 

"Even where I come from, a billion dollars for 5 million people is a lot of money," he added.

Territorial Integrity

“We will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and we urge to world not to recognize them as independent states,” Biden said.

He called on Georgia “to keep the doors open to Abkhaz and South Ossetians so that they know they have other options besides status quo.”

“Instability or renewed conflict guarantees, in our view, continuation of unacceptable status quo,” Biden said. “There is no military option to reintegration; only peaceful and prosperous Georgia has a prospect of restoring territorial integrity by showing those in Abkhaz and South Ossetia a Georgia where they can be free and where their communities can flourish, where they can enjoy autonomy within the federal system of government, where life can be so much better than it is now for them; show them the real benefits of your nation’s model.”

Biden called on Russia to honor its international commitments “clearly specified” in the August 12 ceasefire agreement, including “withdrawal of all forces to their pre-conflict positions and ultimately out of your territorial areas.”

Military Cooperation

On military cooperation, Biden said in his speech to the Parliament that the U.S. was working closely with Georgia “to modernize” its military “with the focus on training, planning and organization.”

In his speech, Biden said that the United States “fully support” Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO.

“We will work to continue to help you meet the standards of NATO membership,” he said.

Democracy

On democratic reforms, Biden said that the U.S. expected President Saakashvili would keep his commitments laid out in his address to the Parliament earlier this week.

He said 2003 Rose Revolution, after years of economic hardship and “backward drift towards undemocratic rule”, sounded “a clarion call for freedom and democracy, that was literally heard around the world.”

Biden, however, also said: “The Rose Revolution will only be complete when the government is transparent, accountable and fully participatory; when issues are debated inside this chamber, not only out on the street; when you fully address key constitutional issues regarding the balance of power between the Parliament and executive branch and leveling your electoral playing field; when the media is totally independent and professional, providing people the information to make informed decisions and to hold their government accountable for the decisions it makes; when the courts are free from outside influence and rule of law is firmly established and when the transfer of power occurs through peaceful, constitutional and democratic processes, not on the street.”

Biden said that the United States would continue supporting Georgia “to fulfill democratic promise” of Rose Revolution.

‘Historic Speech’

After his address to the Parliament, Biden met with a group of internally displaced schoolchildren. At the event, which was aired live by the Georgian television stations, President Saakashvili told the Vice President that his speech was “truly historic and very inspirational.” “I was moved frankly,” he said.

Biden told the schoolchildren: "What we can do is make clear to the world, and to the Russians particularly, that we stand with you, and that if they fail to meet their commitments, that it is a problem for them... A lot of you think maybe Russia did what they did, and they paid no price. They paid a pretty big price already diplomatically. The countries that surround Russia, even those that have been very, very loyal to Russia in their freedom, are now saying very harsh things."

"Russia has isolated itself more," he added.

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