President Saakashvili said that two weeks after visiting Georgia’s Black Sea resort of Batumi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was still under impressions of the trip.
“Hillary Clinton praised us a lot [when she was] here and now… she’s still under impressions of Batumi and keeps praising a lot our Public Service Hall,” Saakashvili said on June 19 while visiting a new emergency call center 112.
He was apparently referring to Clinton’s remarks, when she recalled her trip to Batumi while speaking before an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington on June 12 discussing Middle East together with Israeli President Shimon Peres. When speaking about Iran, Secretary Clinton said that when she was in Batumi, which she said “is being turned into a kind of mini Las Vegas on the Black Sea”, she was told by a local official that lots of tourists were coming from neighboring countries, as well as from Iran and Israel.
“I said, ‘Oh, how’s that all work?’,” Clinton said. “And he [local official] says, ‘Well, I’ll tell you, if you go to the discos late at night, the two kinds of people that are left are the Iranians and the Israelis’. And shortly after hearing that story, I walked into a public [service] building in Batumi, which is one of President Saakashvili’s very creative and impressive advancements… truly it’s one-stop shopping. You go into one public building; you can get a marriage license, a work license, a passport. It’s quite remarkable. So I was wandering around, being shown this modern technological wonder. And I walked into the visa section, and these three men came running up to me and they said, ‘We love you, we love you. We’re from Iran.’ And I said, ‘Oh well, we’re trying to get along with you’.”
She said that there was “disconnect” between the people of Iran and its leadership. “There is a lot happening inside Iran, and keeping this pressure on, keeping the sanctions on, keeping the world united against this nuclear threat... remains our highest priority,” Secretary Clinton said.