Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, arrived in Tbilisi at noon on July 5 – a final stop of her Eastern European tour, which also included Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, welcomed Clinton in the Tbilisi airport.
Before meeting with President Saakashvili, she will speak at a town hall meeting with women leaders, which will be followed by question and answer session. Apart of women representatives from civil society groups, members of several opposition parties are also invited to attend this meeting including from Republican Party, Labor Party, New Rights Party and Georgia’s Way. Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia, was also invited, but she refused to attend, citing that format of the meeting would not facilitate to express her views properly. Other representative from her party will attend the town hall meeting.
Clinton will also hold a separate with some opposition leaders, including MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of the parliamentary minority and Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats and a runner-up in Tbilisi mayoral race.
In her speech in Krakow on July 3, Clinton underlined that for the United States supporting civil society groups “is a critical part of our work to advance democracy” and meeting with civil society leaders was an important part of her entire tour.
“And it is a guiding principle in every meeting I hold and every country I visit,” she said.
Speaking at a joint news conference with her Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski, in Krakow on July 3, the U.S. Secretary of State reiterated that Washington had “consistently opposed the occupation by Russian troops of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and have pushed for a resolution that would restore the full territorial integrity of Georgia.”
“I will certainly be discussing that with the leadership in Georgia. We have raised these issues consistently with Russia and certainly have not seen a lot of the progress in the Geneva process which was established to try to create observers and peacekeeping missions and border security as a stop-gap measure on the way to, hopefully, seeing the end of the Russian occupation.”
“But that is a subject high on my list when I get to Georgia,” she added.
The Polish Foreign Minister also reiterated Poland’s “strong support” to Georgia’s territorial integrity and said that frozen conflicts should be resolved, “because we now know how quickly they can unfreeze.”
Radoslaw Sikorski also said that the issue was raised at a Weimar Triangle foreign ministerial meeting – Poland, France, Germany – in Paris on June 23. Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, was invited at the meeting.
“We made the argument to him [Lavrov] that Russia needs to show its credibility on these issues [of frozen conflicts],” Sikorsky said.