Politicians in Georgia from both GD ruling coalition and opposition UNM party have hailed a meeting between Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, which was also joined for about 20 minutes by President Obama.
“It was very important and we are very happy that President Obama joined the meeting. It stresses once again that in the difficult situation in the region the U.S. firmly and clearly expresses its support to our territorial integrity and sovereignty. It is very promising and important for us,” President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on February 25.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said that the meeting “was a very important event in Georgia-U.S. relations.”
“Georgia not only maintained its close and friendly relations with the U.S. but has further deepened these ties and yesterday’s meeting was a demonstration of that,” Usupashvili said.
Leader of UNM parliamentary minority group, MP Davit Bakradze, also hailed the meeting as “very important” and stressed on that part of a readout from the White House in which it says that President Obama urged PM Garibashvili “to continue working with all of Georgia’s leaders and with civil society to advance the rule of law and to consolidate Georgia’s significant democratic achievements.”
“It is very important for the authorities to realize one of the key messages coming clearly from President Obama that the Georgian democracy needs cooperation between all the political forces instead of confrontation. It was a very important meeting with important messages and I hope that after this meeting bilateral relations will further continue to develop in the right direction,” MP Bakradze said.
A senior figure in UNM opposition party Giga Bokeria, who is a former secretary of National Security Council, said: “We are very grateful to President Obama that in this situation when Russia again is shifting occupation line deeper into our territories and against the background of developments in Ukraine, he has once again clearly reaffirmed support towards Georgia’s sovereignty.”
“I hope that Prime Minister Garibashvili was prepared better for this meeting than he was at the Munich security conference,” Bokeria said. “We are interested in knowing more details about the issues he [Garibashvili] raised at the meeting and I hope we will hear more from him about it. He spoke about deepening of economic relations, which is very good… Issue of launching talks on free trade agreement with [the United States] was agreed during the previous meeting [between Georgian and U.S. leaders in Washington in January 2012]. We have not heard from the Prime Minister anything over this issue and it is interesting to know at what stage we are now in this regard.”
Bokeria was referring to the meeting between Obama and Saakashvili at the White House in January, 2012, when the U.S. President said that possibility of free trade agreement with Georgia would be explored.
The White House said that during the meeting President Obama and PM Garibashvili, among other issues, also discussed “opportunities for strengthening U.S.-Georgia strategic cooperation, including on increasing trade and investment ties between our two economies.”
According to a senior U.S. administration official, who spoke with reporters via conference call after the meeting, PM Garibashvili will also meet U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman “to talk about how we can carry our economic relationship forward.”
Administration official also said that PM Garibashvili has only been in office just for several months, but “we wanted to be able to engage the new government early on to demonstrate our strong commitment not just to the new government, but to the people of Georgia and to Georgia’s continued democratic development and economic progress.”