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Visit of U.S. Congressional Delegation
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Sep.'10 / 23:52

A five-member U.S. Congressional delegation held series of meetings with senior Georgian officials and opposition representatives in Tbilisi on September 6.

Georgian Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Bakradze, said after meeting with the delegation, that it was Georgia's "major request and a priority" towards the U.S. Congress, as well as towards legislative bodies of other countries to recognize Russia as an occupying power by passing a relevant resolution condemning occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Bakradze, who will visit the United States next week, also said that planned constitutional reform in Georgia was discussed "in details" during the meeting, as well as Georgia's security-related issues. He said close ties with a legislative body of Georgia's "key ally is very important for us."

The Congressional delegation included Democratic members of the House of Representatives Jim Marshall; Peter Welch and Jane Harman, as well as Republican members Cynthia Lummis and Charles Dent.

"Despite our diverse backgrounds and parties, we share in common a wish for Georgia's success. We want Georgia to continue with the reforms that we discussed," Congressman Marshall said after meeting with the parliamentary chairman.

Before arriving in Georgia, the delegation visited Malta, Lebanon and Pakistan.

The U.S. Congressional delegation arrived in Tbilisi late on Sunday and held meetings on Monday, including with Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, as well as opposition representatives from National Forum, Conservative, Republican, Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) parties. 

Giorgi Targamadze, leader of CDM, said after the meeting that "all the issues high on the country's democratic development agenda", including planned constitutional reform and reform of the electoral system, were raised.

"If there are no democratic reforms and if these reforms are not supported by the United States, it is hard to imagine a long-term strategic relations between our countries," Kakha Kukava of the Conservative Party said after the meeting.

"The Republican Party supports Georgia's participation in such important operations like in Afghanistan; but it [Georgia's contribution] should not became a reason for [the U.S.] to turn a blind eye on problems existing in Georgia," Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party, said.

Kakha Shartava, leader of National Forum, said after the meeting that the need of electoral reform was underlined as fair elections, "because if there is no fair election, there is no democracy and security."

Alexi Petriashvili of OGFD said that in respect of planned constitutional reform, it was stressed, that the new constitution should not be "tailored on concrete persons". OGFD called in July to include a provision in the new constitution that would ban President Saakashvili from being nominated as PM - the post, which will see significant increase of powers under the proposed new model - after his second and final term in office expires in 2013.

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