In remarks before the meeting with President Saakashvili in New York on September 21, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, reiterated Washington’s support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and democratic reforms.
“We are working to try to ensure that Russia abides by the 2008 ceasefire, and hopefully to eventually reintegrate your country as it should be,” Clinton said. “We also know that working toward democracy and the changes that you’re attempting to achieve are challenging, but we want to support and encourage the steps that need to be taken. And the United States supports Georgia, and we want to make that very clear and unequivocal statement here today.
President Saakashvili thanked the Secretary of State “for all the support you’ve given us.”
“I also saw your article [on missile defense] this morning in the Financial Times of London, and it was very impressive because the message was very clear-cut, very unambiguous… and we are very grateful to you for that moral clarity, as well as strategic vision of what U.S. role in our region should be,” Saakashvili told the Secretary of State before the meeting.
Clinton responded: “We think this approach is much more effective, and it will certainly cover Georgia and the Caucasus and it will send a clear message that the United States is committed to the defense of all of Europe in the years going forward. Thank you very much.”
After the meeting Philip H. Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told journalists that during the talks, Clinton emphasized that the U.S. “does not and will not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia” and called on Georgia to pursue policy of “strategic patience”.
“[She] made clear to the Georgians that we would continue to work with other members of the international community so that other countries wouldn’t recognize as well,” Gordon said.
“She also made clear our view that there’s not a short-term fix to the problems of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as much as we want Russian troops to leave those territories as soon as possible, but that the best way forward would be one of strategic patience whereby Georgia shows itself to be an attractive place, a stronger, democratic [country],” he said.
Gordon also said that Georgia made a progress in democratic reforms and added: “We think it should continue down the road of democratization, including in the areas of judiciary, media, electoral reform.”
“There are specific areas of reform, some of which have been put forward by the government but not yet implemented, on changing the electoral code, strengthening the parliament, allowing for more media freedom. Those are the areas – a more independent judiciary – those are the areas where the Secretary encouraged President Saakashvili to make further progress,” Gordon said.