TBILISI, DFWatch – A delegation of US congressmen who came to Georgia for the eight-year anniversary of the rose revolution held meetings with the opposition before meeting the government. At the meetings with the opposition they spoke about the problems in the country.
According to official information from the US embassy, the congressmen arrived here for a two-day visit, and they will be meeting with both the president Mikheil Saakashvili, Parliamentary Speaker Davit Bakradze, Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council Giorgi Bokeria as well as opposition representatives.
The congressmen in the delegation are: David Dreier (Republican from California), Ed Whitfield (Republican from Kentucky), and Donald Payne (Democrat from New Jersey), and also Barry Jackson, Chief of Staff to the House Speaker.
The delegation chairman is congressman Dreier, who is chairman of the House Committee on Rules. The meeting between the opposition and congressmen has been held in the US embassy. Irakli Alasania, leader of the Free Democrats, David Usupashvili, chairman of the Republicans, Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democrats, David Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rightists party and Kakha Shartava, one of the leaders of National Forum attended the meeting.
Free Democrats leader Irakli Alasania said later that he had discussed the issues about the process to prepare for future the coming elections for parliament and president; he also spoke about the political harassment by police and intelligence.
“We have discussed the media; especially national broadcasters’ freedom and we achieved complete understanding in this direction. We discussed the situation in the occupied territory and Georgia’s NATO integration,” Irakli Alasania said.
The Republican leader David Usupashvili asked the congressmen to support Georgia on the way towards NATO integration.
As Usupashvili stated to the journalists after the meeting the main topic of the meeting was the country’s security and democratization.
“We agreed on the fact that the transfer of government through fair elections is the main test which Georgia has to pass. This will be the background to provide security for the country. The American congressmen focused on the fact that they had arrived to help Georgian people and not one particular person,” Usupashvili said.
Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rightists Party also claimed that he had discussed the problems in terms of democracy in the country. He said that it’s the main challenge for the country to set up democratic bodies and to conduct democratic reforms.
“All these are conditioned on the existing single-party system. The 2012 elections should ensure that there is established a real multi party system, which will bring with it that the courts also become independent; the human rights will be better protected and there will be a freer business environment in Georgia,” Gamkrelidze said.
He also discussed the country’s security and paid attention to statement by Russian president Dimitry Medvedev in this regard.
“The statement summed up all the illusions that the Kremlin had been fighting for the protection of the Ossetian people. The [Nato] Chicago summit should respond to all these by [showing] support; by opening new opportunities for Georgia to respond to Russia and all unfavorable to Georgia, which intervenes in Georgia’s NATO integration. We are opponents of the government, not of our own country,” Gamkrelidze added.
Gamkrelidze says the congressmen didn’t give any recommendations to the opposition; but promised to discuss all these issues with the government.
According to Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democrats, ‘the country needs more security guarantees; people need peace and democratic development’. He talked about these issues with the congressmen.
“We expect of our Western colleagues that Georgia will receive clear messages at the Chicago Summit. This message will be important not only for Georgia, but considering the Russian government’s latest statement, first of all for our northern neighbor, it will mean that Georgia’s way towards NATO integration is non-reversible; but they’ll consider this decision in a timely manner,” Targamadze said.
The congressmen didn’t make any comments. They will continue the meetings. They participated at an event by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in the National Library after meeting with the opposition. It was attended by executive director of the foundation John Heubusch and Linda Bond, its chief consultant.
The congressmen also attended the opening of the Ronald Reagan statue in Rike Park in the old part of Tbilisi on the bank of the river Mtkvari. President Mikheil Saakashvili led the event. Later they visited the House of Justice in the town Rustavi half an hour’s drive south of the capital. John Bass, US ambassador in Georgia, and Temur Iakobashvili, Georgian ambassador to the USA, also attended.