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Rumsfeld: U.S. Supports Georgia's Stability and Territorial Integrity
/ 5 Dec.'03 / 18:05
Civil Georgia

Rumsfeld Pledges Support for Georgia

After the talks with the Georgia’s new leadership on December 5, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reiterated the United State’s “strong support for stability, territorial integrity of Georgia” and called Russia for closing down its military bases in Georgia.

“We stressed that relations with the U.S. is of main importance for us,” Georgia’s Interim President Nino Burjanadze said at a joint news briefing with the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Donald Rumsfeld arrived in the Georgian capital on December 5 – a move is seen as the United States’ further support for Georgia’s provisional government and country’s security.

Donald Rumsfeld held talks with Interim President Nino Burjanadze, State Minister Zurab Zhvania and presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili – three leaders of the Georgia’s velvet revolution, which led President Eduard Shevardnadze out of the office on November 23. U.S. ambassador in Georgia Richard Miles, as well as Davit Tevzadze, Georgia’s Defense Minister and other Georgian officials also attended the meeting. 

“We underscored our strong support for stability and territorial integrity of Georgia. As [U.S.] Secretary [of State] Colin Powell indicated, the United States agrees that Russia should fulfill its commitment under the [1999 OSCE] Istanbul accords to withdraw Russian forces form Georgia,” Donald Rumsfeld said.

Russia has three military bases in Georgia’s different regions – Adjara Autonomous Republic, Samtskhe-Javakheti, the largely ethnic Armenian region and breakaway Abkhazia. Colin Powell demanded from Russia on December 2 at the OSCE Maastricht Ministerial Summit to close down military bases in Georgia, as considered by the OSCE Istanbul Summit.

“We informed Mr. Rumsfeld about the events that took place weeks ago [street protests that forced Shevardnadze to resign] in Georgia. We stressed that relations with the U.S. is of main importance for us. We also stressed that our foreign policy remains unchanged and remains priority accession to the NATO. We thanked Mr. Rumsfeld for providing assistance to Georgia. We emphasized that we are ready to precede democratic development of Georgia,” Nino Burjanadze said.

Rumsfeld meets Georgian soldiers
trained within the GTEP.

Donald Rumsfeld has visited the Krtsanisi training field, where the U.S. military instructors train Georgian troops in the frames of the U.S.-funded Trains-and-Equip program (GTEP). This is Donald Rumsfeld’s second visit to Georgia. In December 2001 his visit was followed with the launch of the GTEP in spring 2002, in which the United States allocated USD 64 million.

“We discussed military cooperation between the two countries. We believe that the Train-and-Equip has been a success program and we are looking forward for continuation of cooperation and assisting defense reform which has been taking place in Georgia,” the U.S. Secretary of Defense said.

He said that the U.S. Department of Defense and the Georgian Ministry of Defense have discussions about military cooperation “and types of cooperation.” “We anticipate continuing this cooperation in the future,” Donald Rumsfeld added. 

“We are glad that U.S. is so pleased to see success of this program. We are thankful to the U.S. for implementation of this program and we hope the GTEP will be continued,” Nino Burjanadze said. 

The U.S. Secretary of Defense also hailed Georgia’s willingness to join the Euro-Atlantic structures.

“Georgia made a decision to work closely with NATO. This was a good decision. The decision was reaffirmed by the new leadership. We look towards the political, economic as well as military reforms that move Georgia’s approach closer to the democracies of the west,” Donald Rumsfeld said.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense also emphasized importance of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.  

“We welcome Georgia’s commitment to hold free and fair elections. Election process is critical for stability in Georgia and to continue integration to the west,” Donald Rumsfeld said.

Observers say that the visit is important from the two points of view. “Rumsfeld’s visit to Georgia is a part of his Central Asian tour – the region, which is of the U.S. strategic interests in fight against terrorism and his visit to Georgia proves once again that Georgia is linked to this region and to the U.S. interests,” Davit Darchiashvili, a military analyst told Civil Georgia.

Donald Rumsfeld has visited Azerbaijan and Afghanistan on December 3-4, before the arrival in Georgia.

Georgia was one of the first nations to offer any help it could provide to the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in America. Georgia grants overflight rights for U.S. military aircraft, and also has sent a platoon-sized peacekeeping detachment to the coalitions in Iraq.

“I want to express appreciation for Georgia’s critical assistance in the global war on terror,” Donald Rumsfeld said in Tbilisi.  

“On the other hand this visit is a demonstration of the U.S. support to the Georgia’s new leadership. It is very import message that along with Burjanadze and Zhvania, Saakashvili also attended the talks with Rumsfeld. Saakashvili is only presidential candidate and does not hold high-rank position in the government,” Darchiashvili added. 

However as Davit Darchiashvili says the U.S. political, military and economic support will be fully depend on the Georgian side. “If we fail again to meet our commitments to implement democratic reforms in the country, of course the United States will revise assistance programs,” he said.

The U.S. intergovernmental team, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Lynn Pascoe, has already arrived in Tbilisi and holds talks with the Georgian authorities to review assistance, which the U.S. will provide Georgia.

 

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