U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, spoke on March 21 about U.S.-Georgian relations during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers from the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs and then also met separately with UNM parliamentary minority leader Davit Bakradze and Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili.
The U.S. diplomat said he was in the Parliament upon invitation of the foreign affairs committee to discuss bilateral U.S.-Georgian cooperation.
Ambassador Norland said that it was “by coincidence” he was in the Parliament on the same day when lawmakers were going to begin discussing constitutional amendments on presidential powers.
“This is obviously a matter of Georgian internal politics. I would just say, from reading the press it’s clear that the both sides agree on the substance of these proposed changes. But as it’s natural in democratic process, each side has to manage its constituency, has to manage its caucus and we certainly respect that,” Ambassador Norland said, adding that Georgia should continue its democratic progress and to make decisions through debates and compromises.
He also said: “Even in the midst of lot of political discussion and debate, it’s important to remember how much progress Georgia has made – Georgia has now a strong new government with the popular mandate; it has strong opposition with a lot of experience; it has a strong parliament; it has an increasingly independent judiciary, and it has a very vibrant media. These all are very important fundamentals in the democratic process.”
The U.S. ambassador stressed in his remarks after meetings with the Georgian lawmakers that his main message was that the U.S. cooperation with Georgia “is going to continue regardless of who is… in power either in the United States or in Georgia.” He also thanked Georgia for its “strong partnership”, including in mission in Afghanistan.