After meeting a senior lawmaker from the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group, Tedo Japaridze in Washington, Congressman Michael Turner, a Republican from Ohio, has reiterated his concern over political situation in Georgia, which, as he put it, “has been plagued by allegations of persecutions, abuse, and violence.”
Congressman Turner, who chairs the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, sponsored an amendment to the U.S. Defense Authorization Act, which was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives last month, saying that Georgia’s new government “has taken a series of measures against former officials and members of the current political opposition that appear to be motivated by political considerations.”
The amendment also says that the arrest of former PM Vano Merabishvili “is especially troubling”. “The measures taken by the Georgian Government against former officials and political opponents, apparently in part motivated by political considerations, may have a significant negative impact on cooperation between the United States and Georgia, including efforts to build a stronger relationship in political, economic, and security matters, as well as progress on integrating Georgia into international organizations,” it reads.
The Georgian government officials and senior lawmakers from the GD parliamentary majority are now lobbying for this amendment to be removed from the U.S. Defense Authorization Act before the final version of this voluminous bill is agreed by a House and Senate conference by the end of this year.
Last week a Georgian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze visited Washington and held series of meetings with U.S. administration officials and up to two dozen members of Congress, including with House member Michael Turner. GD MP Tedo Japaridze, who chairs parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, was also part of this delegation, who met again Congressman Turner this week.
After meeting with GD MP Japaridze, Congressman Turner released a statement on July 24, saying: “The House passed my amendment to demonstrate the shared concern by my colleagues that the political situation in Georgia has been plagued by allegations of persecutions, abuse, and violence. Georgia has many allies in Congress who expect the newly elected government to function as a strong democracy. The incidents of persecutions, abuse, and violence are very troubling. Democratic institutions must be treated with the dignity and honor that the Georgian and American people expect. This is the strong message I delivered to Georgia’s delegation, led by Foreign Minister of Georgia Maia Panjikidze, last week.”