Time: 11:11 p.m. CEST
Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia on Wednesday where he met with Georgia’s state officials. This is second visit of Kerry to Tbilisi and his first one as a secretary of state. During the news conference with Georgian Prime minister Giorgi Kvirikashvilli in Tbilisi, Kerry said he arrived here with a message from the President Barack Obama, that, “the United States firmly supports Georgia’s sovereignty, security, prosperity and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
“At the Bucharest Summit in 2008, NATO allies declared that Georgia will be a member of the alliance. And we reaffirmed the Bucharest commitment at the summits in Chicago and Wales, and we will do so again in Warsaw later this week. The Georgian people themselves have chosen and want a Euro-Atlantic future. And the United States remains committed to helping Georgia will be able to achieve that goal,” Kerry stated.
After the NATO Summit, next important date for Georgia will be October 8, which as Kerry stated, “will also be another litmus test for Georgia.”
“Free and fair elections will be an important step towards greater security, towards greater stability, and towards prosperity for all of the people of this country. And in all of our conversations, we talked about the need for an electoral environment that is free of intimidation and for continued progress to protect media freedom,” Kerry said in Tbilisi.
Kerry said, the U.S. continue to call on Russia to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, “including the withdrawal of its forces to pre-conflict positions and allowing unfettered access for the delivery of humanitarian supplies.”
Georgia is the third-largest overall and the biggest non-NATO troop contributor to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. And over the years our brave troops have fought side by side in Helmand Province. The United States honors Georgia’s sacrifice and we are deeply grateful, Mr. Prime Minister, for your sustained support for this vital mission.
On Wednesday, Georgia and the U.S. signed bilateral defense cooperation memorandum that defines our security partnership. In addition, after U.S.- Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, Kerry announced a new $15 million program to support economic resiliency in Georgia and an additional $1 million to our existing program to improve compliance with labor laws. Kerry talked about need to “cement the judicial independence of Georgia’s judicial system.”
Kerry met with young Georgian entrepreneurs “to hear about the work they are doing to modernize the economy, spur investment and innovation.”
Georgia’s Prime minister Kvirikashvilli said they planned the security –people vs. people and the other group’s priority, and that the visit reflected the tangible results in “deepening our cooperation.”
“A very important document between Georgia and U.S. on cooperation in the defense and security memorandum has been signed, which is an enabler for a new framework of deepened collaboration,” Kvirikashvilli explained. The educational exchange will also expand with many Georgian scholars and students may become of the broaden Fulbright academic exchange program.
Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland traveled with Kerry on his first official visit to Georgia.