New website coming soon! Stay tuned for new programs, listing of events, and ways to get involved.
Is the Georgian government prepared to hold free and fair elections at a time of the pandemic? What’s at stake for the Caucasus Region?
On behalf of the Georgian Association in the US we delighted to invite you for a virtual discussion on “Georgian Parliamentary Elections 2020.” The panel will examine and assess how prepared the Georgian government is to successfully hold the elections at a time of the pandemic. The speakers will highlight the role of the United States in supporting Georgia’s efforts to hold free and fair elections and to combat disinformation efforts on the part of the Russian government and other actors. The panelists will also address the importance of the election from the regional perspective.
Ambassador David Bakradze, Embassy of Georgia to the United States
Alex Sokolowski, The United States Agency for International Development
Cheryl Fernandes, U.S. Department of State
Melissa Muscio, National Democratic Institute
Nino Japaridze, Edison Research
Stephen B. Nix, International Republican Institute
Ia Meurmishvili, Voice of America
Date And Time
Fri, October 16, 2020
10:00 AM ET
PLEASE REGISTER DIRECTLY ON ZOOM:
The following article is an extract from the exhibit “The Democratic Republic of Georgia – 100 years” currently on display at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.
The Bolshevik occupation regime started to subdue the population by force. Georgian clergy and the Orthodox Church found themselves outside the law. All anti-Communist organizations were dismissed by declaring “self-liquidation”. Prohibited parties moved underground and continued to fight for Georgia’s liberation by secret conspiracy.
In 1921, anti-Soviet revolts erupted in Svanetia, Racha-Lechkhumi and Khevsureti. Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ambrosi addressed the Genoa International Conference in a memorandum and demanded the withdrawal of Russian occupation troops from Georgia. In April 1922, the Independence Committee was formed to lead the liberation movement and its “military center” was established. Guerrilla forces activated and spread throughout Georgia.
Khaikhosro (Kakutsa) Cholokashvili led the groups in Kakheti and Khevsureti. The members of the squad were bound together by an oath and they were given the name “Shepiculni” (bound by oath). In the summer of 1922, turbulence started in Khiziki, Pshavi and Khevsureti. In March 1923, the entire military staff of the military center Generals Aleksandre Andronikashvili, Konstantine Apkhazi, Varden Tsulukidze and others were arrested and shot. Nevertheless, in August 1924, a large uprising that was supported by Georgia’s emigrated government (in Paris) began. To organize the revolt, Noe Khomeriki, Valiko Jugeli, Benia Chkikvishvili and others illegally returned from immigration.
Significant armed demonstrations took place in Guria, Samegrelo, Svaneti, Imereti and Kakheti. Nevertheless, the revolt proved to be unsuccessful and resulted in massive casualties. The government responded to protesting Georgians with mass repressions.
The National Movement weakened but did not die out completely shifting its attention to peaceful protests through expressions of culture, the arts and literature.
Several illegal organizations led by Levan Gotua, Adam Bobghiashvili, Kote Khimshiashvili and others were established in Georgia during World War II, but Soviet Special Forces destroyed all of them. The Soviets used bloodshed to restrain peaceful demonstrations in Tbilisi on March 9, 1956 and April 9, 1989. A rare exception occurred in April 1978, when student youth demonstrations demanding that the state maintain the primacy of the Georgian language was met with compromise.
The dissident movement with representatives like Merab Kostava and Zviad Gamsakhurdia started in the 1970s. The patriotic poetry of Mukhran Machavariani, Akaki Bakradze’s critical letters and public lectures encouraged the emergence of powerful national political organizations such as the Ilia Chachavadze Society, National Independence Party, People’s Front and others. Student activities intensified, and the role and influence of the church and Catholicos Patriarch Ilya II rose significantly.
The overall crises in the Soviet Union and the rise of the national movement gave Georgia the opportunity to restore its independent statehood again on April 9, 1991.
The following article is an extract from the exhibit “The Democratic Republic of Georgia – 100 years” currently on display at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.
The Russian Empire dissolved the Kartli-Kakheti Kingdom at the start of the 19th century, incorporating it in its boundaries as a province. And when in 1810 the Imeretian Kingdom was annexed as well, Russia ruled over the entire Georgia, fully eliminating Georgian statehood, and stripping the Georgian Church of its autocephaly.
However, within all layers of Georgian society the imperial regime was met with resistance, resulting in the first public protest in Kakheti in July 1802. In the name of Emperor Alexander I, a petition was drawn up requesting the restoration of the Bagrationi royal reign in Kartli-Kakheti. The years after, particularly during 1804, 1812-13, and 1819-20 were marked by large anti-imperial uprisings, followed by an even larger scale revolt known as the 1832 Conspiracy plot. The revolt, a significant movement aimed at restoring the Georgian independent state, was headed by Alexsandre Orbeliani, Solomon Dodashvili and Elizbar Eristavi.
In the 1860s, the Terg Daleulis movement (Terg Dadeulis were Georgian intellectual and political leaders who had received education in Russia in the 1860s) took the national liberation to a new stage. Ilia Chavchavadze and his like-minded associates changed tactics by not only openly opposing the Russian Empire, but also by using more peaceful methods to fight the foreign rule. Their thoughts, literary and public writings, artistic creations, as well as groups such as the Society for Spreading Literacy among Georgians, the Bank of the Nobility and the Land Bank strengthened national self-consciousness, consolidating and reinforcing the Georgian spirit.
The next generation of Georgian national political forces attempted to raise awareness among the European Community for support of the idea of Georgia’s liberation through civilized humanity. A prime example was the newspaper Sakartvelo (Georgia) founded in 1903 in Paris, and its French add-in La Georgie propagating the idea of restoring an autonomous Georgian state.
With more than 2000 signatures, the petition The Memorandum of the Georgian People was drawn up at the initiative of Varlam Cherkhezishvili, Mikheil Tsereteli and Giorgi Gvazava and sent to the Hague Peace Commission in 1907. The petition outlined the Russian Empire’s illegitimate actions in Georgia and called for the international community to acknowledge the historic and legal right of the Georgian people to have its national-territorial autonomy recognized. Varlam Gelovani, a Georgian deputy and member of the Socialist-Federalist party, officially appealed to the State Duma-Russia’s supreme legislative body, to grant Georgia autonomy on December 13, 1912. And in June 1916, Mikheil Tsereteli gave an extensive speech at the Lausanne Conference on Georgia’s rights.”
Just as July 4th marks the date of the birth of the United States of America, May 26th serves as the birth date of the modern state of Georgia. But Georgia as a sovereign entity traces her existence for more than 20 centuries. Over these many centuries Georgians had to fight almost incessantly for the preservation of their national independence, faith and traditions. She was many times invaded by the Mongols, Persians and Turks, among others, and in more recent history lost her sovereignty to a greedy Imperial Russia.
It was in 1783 when the King of Eastern Georgia, Erekle II concluded a treaty with Catherine the Great by which Georgia accepted Russian protection from Persians. In exchange Georgia was to retain her royal dynasty (Bagrationi), Church, institutions, language and complete freedom in internal affairs. In 1801 however, Russia violated the treaty and annexed Eastern Georgia to the Imperial Crown. By 1863, Russia had absorbed all of what is today modern Georgia, including currently occupied Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia. Since then, Georgia was a part of Imperial Russia. Georgians however managed to retain their language, and traditions.
When the Bolshevik Revolution broke out in 1917, Georgians took advantage of the ensuing chaos by declaring her independence on May 26, 1918. It is this centenary which we celebrate this year. The Georgian National Council consisting of members of all Georgian parties solemnly proclaimed the restoration of an independent Georgian state. Her independence was recognized de jure by most of the worlds powers including Soviet Russia who, on May 7, 1920, concluded a treaty with the Georgian Republic.
During the next three years the leaders of the new republic led by Noe Jordania, saw a Constituent Assembly elected (February 1919) based on a direct, equal, universal and proportional electoral representation. The right to vote was given to every citizen of the republic 20 years old and older without discrimination. The Assembly’s principal task was to draft a Constitution which they drew up and had adopted by February 1921. Unfortunately, by this time, the Red Army had begun its invasion of the young Republic striking simultaneously from five directions. Despite the heroic efforts of the Georgian Army led by General Kvinitadze, they were unable to resist the Soviet invasion. On March 16,1921, the Constituent Assembly of Georgia held its last meeting in Batumi and ordered the Government of the republic to leave the country, proceed to Europe and continue the fight for the restoration of independence from there. The Red Army entered Tbilisi on February 25, 1921 and the Soviet Republic of Georgia was proclaimed the same day.
Although Georgia was fighting for her life, no help whatsoever was given to her by the outside world. Although several European countries debated the “Georgian question” nothing came of all the meetings, debates and protests. No one was willing to take on the Russian bear. In 1921, the world had not yet come to realize that the principle of collective security must be defended if mankind is to have real peace. The invasion of a free Georgia was an early example in which Soviet Russia cynically broke an international treaty; they did same to Azerbaijan before Georgia. The Russia of today is no less different. They continue to violate international norms of territorial integrity and human rights. How many times must history repeat itself before the world learns its lesson?
On May 26, 1918 Georgia reestablished a sovereign state and self-government which had been lost in the wake of the annexation of Georgia in 1801 by the Russian empire. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was recognized in 1918-21 by the Governments of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark. On May 7, 1920, the Republic of Georgia signed a Peace Treaty with the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in which Soviet Russia unquestionably recognized “the freedom and independence of the Government of Georgia” (Article I) and renounced all “interference in the internal affairs of Georgia” (Article II). In February 1921, the Soviet Army invaded Georgia, occupying the capital city of Tbilisi on February 25th. Almost immediately the resistance of the Georgian people to Soviet Russian rule manifested itself in numerous popular insurrections and demonstrations. The constant theme of these events was a demand for self-determination, reestablishment of independence and an end to Soviet Russian occupation and russification of Georgia. Since that time and until Georgia reclaimed her independence in April 1991, Georgians struggled incessantly against Soviet Russian rule. Among key events were the:
- Insurrection of 1924 when Georgian nationalist groups succeeded for a short period in taking over a number of cities from Soviet elements before thousands of nationalists were massacred by the Red Army and the opposition movement took refuge in the Caucasus Mountains from where they continued to attack Soviet forces for many years. A number of the leaders also relocated to Turkey and eventually Europe.
- Uprising of 1956 during Khrushchev’s rule which was crushed with dozens dead or wounded when troops fired indiscriminately on demonstrators especially those gathered at Tbilisi University.
- Demonstration of April 14, 1978 when over 20,000 marched in Tbilisi protesting an attempt, under Brezhnev, to amend the Constitution of the Georgian Soviet Republic and eliminate Georgian as the official language of the republic. Demonstrators took to the streets under the threat of tanks and armored personnel carriers which had surrounded the center of the city. For the first time in Soviet history a popular demonstration was successful in overturning a decision from Moscow and the Georgian language was kept as the official language.
- Numerous demonstrations including mass demonstrations in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and other cities on February 25, 1989 on the 68th anniversary of the occupation of the Republic of Georgia by the Red Army. Over 30,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Kashveti Church in Tbilisi before proceeding to march to Tbilisi University. Along the way, Russian troops attacked the peaceful crowds of demonstrators leaving about 20 people killed and 100 injured. Banned poisonous gas was used by the Russian troops. Leaders of various nationalist groups read a declaration addressed to the UN Secretary General calling for the creation of a UN Commission to recognize Georgia’s occupation by Soviet Russia and place Georgia as a territory under an international trusteeship. A number of leading nationalist leaders including Zviad Gamsakhourdia, Merab Kostava, Gia Tchantouria and Irina Sarichvili were arrested as a result of the many protests in 1988-89.
- These events in 1989 were followed two years later, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, by the Supreme Council of Georgia declaring independence on April 11th after a referendum held on 31 March 1991.
99 years ago on May 26, 1918, the independence of Georgia was restored. After a century of foreign, Russian domination, Georgia once again took her rightful place among the free nations of the world. The place which belonged to her for over 2000 years from the 4th century BC until 1801, the year in which Georgia was incorporated into the Russian empire.
From the very early days of her history Georgia came under the influence of the Graeco-Roman culture; she became Christian in the first quarter of the fourth century A.D. and ever since then has been an outpost of Christianity and western culture in the East. For centuries, almost uninterruptedly, she waged a battle for her independence and liberty, for her faith and culture. Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, and Turks, all tried to crush her. She was many times defeated, but she was never subdued. Throughout history Georgia has preserved her identity, her race, language and proud traditions. Incessantly fighting, gradually losing power, Georgia reached the modern age. She was not by then the great power she was in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries, but she was still independent and it was as a sovereign monarch, that on July 24, 1783 King Heraclius II signed a treaty of friendship with the empire of the czars. But a few years later, in 1801, the treaty was treacherously and brutally violated by Russia and Georgia was incorporated into the Russian Empire by force of arms. Although tired and powerless after centuries of efforts, Georgia did not submit, and rebellions and uprisings became a pattern of life there. In spite of oppression, in spite of intense efforts of Russification, the empire of the czars did not succeed in in its aims and Georgians still remained Georgians, never for a moment forgetting their proud heritage and only waiting for an opportune moment. This moment came with the defeat of Russia in the first World War, the Russian revolution and the breakup of the Russian empire.
On May 26, 1918, the independence of Georgia was proclaimed by the Georgian National Council consisting of representatives of all the Georgian political parties and organizations, and once again Georgians could enjoy all those rights which are the inalienable rights of man – the right to be governed by those of their own choosing, the right to speak their own language, to worship as they choose, to say and write freely whatever they wish.
During the next three years Georgia proved to the world that she was ready and able to manage her own affairs. Universal, free, truly democratic elections were held and a Parliament elected. This Parliament passed a written constitution, proclaimed absolute equality of race and sex, freedom of speech and religion; gave land to those who toiled it and passed many other laws and reforms, which proved the political maturity of the Georgian nation and of her leaders. The world recognized this fact. 27 nations, including the Supreme Allied Council consisting of Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium and Japan extended de Jure recognition to the young Republic.
And so did Soviet Russia. A treaty between Georgia and Russia was signed in Moscow on May 7, 1920. The Soviets recognized unconditionally the full and absolute sovereignty of Georgia and promised to have friendly, neighborly relations with her. However, only eight months later, in February 1921, without any provocation, without even a declaration of war, the Russian army began an attack on Georgia and after six weeks of bitter, unequal fighting occupied the country. Occupied, but did not subdue. The Georgian people never submitted to Soviet communism. The fight against communism began on February 11, 1921,. A nationwide, general insurrection, which broke out in August 1924. Tens of thousands of Georgian’s were executed in the years between 1921 and 1941; hundreds of thousands deported, most of them never to return. It is difficult to estimate how many more did this country of less than 4 million inhabitants loose between 1941 and 1991 when Georgia’s in dependence was restored.
This originally appeared in the May, 1954 issue of “Le Destin de la Georgie”. It was written by Merab Kvitashvili. The Georgian Association is reprinting and updating with the permission of the author’s daughters, Elisso and Mary in honor of their late father.
Washington, DC – On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, the Georgian Association honored the United States Senator John McCain’s outstanding contributions to building strong U.S. – Georgia relations. Senator McCain received the award from Mr. Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Association, at the traditional annual reception.
Sen. McCain acknowledged the Georgian people for the remarkable accomplishment of transforming the country into an emerging democracy. In his address the Senator from Arizona told the guests, “Rarely have I seen, anywhere in the world, the kind of determination and resilience that is so clearly present in the hearts of Georgians everywhere. The United States is proud to call Georgia a friend, and I take great pride in considering myself a friend of Georgia.” Senator McCain also stressed the importance of continuing U.S. support for Georgia.
Other speakers and distinguished guests included the United States Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA), Co-chair of the Congressional Georgia Caucus, Mr. Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia, Mr. Frank Greinke, Honorary Consul of Georgian in California, Ambassador William Courtney, and Mses. Elisabeth Kvitashvili and Nino Japaridze, members of the Georgian Association Board.
The Georgian Association in the United States of America (GA) is the oldest nonpartisan nationwide membership organization of Georgian- Americans and friends of Georgia. It strives to strengthen and support the Georgian-American community on a national level, and supports an independent, democratic and prosperous Georgia.
The Georgian Association in the United States of America expresses concern over recent developments in Georgia and a potential escalation of the internal political situation. We call on the Government of Georgia, on the leaders of the opposition and all Georgian citizens to refrain from further confrontation and find ways for political reconciliation.
Georgia is facing grave security challenges and a substantial economic crisis that requires mobilization of moral, political and economic resources of the entire nation. Georgia needs national political consensus to deal with these important issues. The Government and the opposition must make concessions and agree on terms of this consensus. Priorities are clear and shared by the majority of Georgias political forces. They include normal political processes that allow broad representation in the government, and a peaceful transition of power; promotion of an independent judiciary and the rule of law; free media; favorable business environment and guarantees of property rights.
We call on the United States Government to take a pro-active position and to urgently send a high level US Government official to Georgia to mediate between the Government and the opposition. The Georgian Association is willing to facilitate such mediation with all its available resources.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
Washington, DC-Today, Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Georgian Association and Nino Japaridze, Board Member of the Georgian Association, along with few colleagues from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) spoke via conference phone with Dr. Ron Asmus, foreign policy adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The discussion, which was a follow-up to a meeting with Secretary Madeline Albright and Senator Clinton’s Campaign National Security Director, Lee Feinstein held last week in Washington, DC, touched upon numerous issues of concern to the Georgian Association and the CEEC.
The questions posed to Dr. Asmus touched on issues such as energy security in Europe and the United States, stability in the Baltics and the Caucasus, fostering of U.S. ties with the Central and East European region, as well as the assessment of Russia’s presidential elections.
Dr. Asmus noted the importance of diversifying energy supplies to Europe and the United States and equated the importance of the Blue Stream and Nabucco projects to the significance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Dr. Asmus said “Russia aggressively uses its energy resources as a weapon.” Asmus added that both the United States and the European Union should “tame Gazprom,” and apply competitive open market rules to Russian companies. The Blue Stream and Nabucco projects will act as catalysts in making Russia “play by open market rules.” “The oligarchic structures of Russia’s energy system must undergo liberalization,” Asmus stated. Asmus believes that real U.S.-EU cooperation will help “chip away at the current energy problems.” Asmus stressed Senator Clinton’s view of the importance of more active U.S.-EU collaboration in dealing with these ongoing energy security issues.
Many members of the CEEC expressed their disappointment with the White House’s reaction to the Russian presidential elections. Asmus explained that new policies are needed to deal with Russia. According to Asmus, “Washington’s Russian policy has exhausted itself. Current policy is not working as Russia is becoming more authoritarian. The Bush Administration has not placed enough focus on Russia. As a result, Russia continues to bully neighboring countries and challenge U.S. interests in the Central and East European region. Russia’s violations of Baltic air space is a useful illustration of Russia’s aggressiveness.” Asmus believes the next U.S. president will need to form new policies toward Russia.
Asmus opined that the right policy towards Russia will include progress on Ukraine’s and Georgia’s desire to join NATO. Asmus indicated that a “democratic and secure Ukraine anchored in the West is the best thing for Russia.” He noted that Ukraine’s and Georgia’s membership in NATO should not be threatening to Russia. He believes the United States must assist former Soviet countries in their consolidation of democracy.
Asmus said that strong U.S.-EU ties are needed to secure peace in Europe. Frank Koszorus, President of the American Hungarian Federation, expressed concern about Kosovo’s recent independence and its potentially negative effect on stability in Vojvodina. Russia’s support of Serbia has already caused ethnic tensions between minorities and Slavs. Asmus responded by saying “the U.S. made a mistake by taking its eyes off the Balkans.”
Dr. Asmus emphasized to members of the CEEC that Senator Clinton and her team will continue to keep Central and East Europe and Russia in focus and expressed desire for a continued dialogue with our communities. The CEEC members present thanked Dr. Asmus for his candid discussion today.
CBCC provides breast cancer screening services and breast health education to women who do not have health insurance or other means to pay for mammograms.
Breast and cervical cancers are the leading causes of death among Georgian women. The First Lady of Georgia dedicates much of her time to the work in health care. She chairs the reproductive Health Council under the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. The Council made it possible to establish the first breast cancer screening center in Tbilisi. At this center, women between the ages of 40-69 who live in Tbilisi receive free mammograms and consultations. The aim of the program is to ensure access for the target population, make the services acceptable and appropriate to the needs of eligible persons, maximize early detection of breast cancer, and therefore, help reduce mortality from breast cancer. Also, First Lady is Founder and Director of SOCO, a charitable organization, which works to improve reproductive health and child welfare in Georgia (www.soco.ge).
CBCC Executive Director Amari Sokoya Pearson-Fields, MPH, and Medical Director Jennifer Eng-Wong, MD, MPH, hosted the meeting. They shared with Roelofs valuable information about breast cancer prevention activities, patient support mechanisms, funding challenges, and creative ways to raise awareness about importance of annual breast screenings. Dr. Levan Jugheli, the Medical Director of the Tbilisi Breast Cancer Screening Center, and wife of the American Ambassador in Georgia accompanied first lady at CBCC. They, also, met with representatives of March of Dimes, the Susan Comen Foundation, and visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during this visit to the United States.
First Lady Roelofs hopes that the Tbilisi Breast Cancer Screening Center can serve as a blueprint for similar facilities in rural areas of Georgia, where the need for cancer screening services for women is urgent.
Washington, DCOn Thursday, March 13, 2008, Senator John McCains senior campaign advisors met with the Georgian Association and colleagues from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), to discuss policy issues that are important to Georgia and the coalitions ancestral countries. Randy Scheunemann, Director of Foreign Policy and National Security, Stephen E. Beigun, Campaign Advisor and Aaron Manaigo, National Coalitions Director represented the Senator.
The discussion focused on key areas of concern for the Georgian Association: NATO enlargement, Russian actions against Georgia and Ukraine and other Central and East European countries, and energy security and diversification of supply. Mr. Scheunemann assured the meeting participants that Senator McCain is a strong supporter of NATO enlargement, and has been actively lobbying Congress for this issue since the 1990s, during the first round of enlargement. The Senator does not believe that Georgias membership in NATO should be tied to the resolution of the so-called frozen conflicts of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. He fears that this conditionality will only give Russia an incentive to keep the conflicts unresolved.
As a President of the United States, Senator McCain would enhance transatlantic relationships with Europe. He would raise the issue of a more cohesive policy toward Russia with European allies, and elevate issues such as MAP for Georgia and Ukraine. The Senator believes that the United States must hold Russian leaders accountable for their policies inside and outside of Russia.
Mr. Scheunemann voiced Senator McCains concern over Russias use of energy for political leverage, and his support for the development of a common energy policy with Europe to avoid Russian monopolization of European energy supply. Senator McCain believes this important issue is a matter of national security for the United States.
Senator McCains advisors expressed confidence that their presidential candidate would continue his deep commitment to resolving the issues of concern to Georgia and other Central and East European countries.
Washington, DC-On Friday, February 29, 2008, Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Georgian Association and Nino Japaridze, Board Member of the Georgian Association, along with representatives of the Central and East Europe Coalition (CEEC) met with Anthony Lake, Ph.D., senior foreign policy advisor for Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Joining Dr. Lake, and facilitating the meeting, was Mark Brzezinski, also a well-known foreign policy expert. In his opening remarks, Anthony Lake touched on many important issues of concern to the member organizations of the CEEC.
Among the topics of discussion were NATO enlargement (especially in light of the upcoming Bucharest Summit in April 2008) and the backsliding of democratic trends in the Russian Federation. In regards to NATO, Lake clearly stated that the enlargement process “reinforces democracy in all nations of Europe,” and brings all European nations together. Anthony Lake described the process itself as “not just of strategic importance [to the United States], but of morality, as well.”
Russia’s recent trend of more authoritarian control also sparked a few comments from Lake. Having expressed concern for the current government policies of President Vladimir Putin, Lake stressed, “We must engage them [the Russians] on issues of mutual interest and concern, but at the same time broaden our relations with the Russian people, not just the Russian government.”
“This meeting gave the Georgian Association the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest and we look forward to working closely with policymakers in Washington on these key issues for our community,” Mamuka Tsereteli noted.
Washington, DC. The Georgian Association in the USA was dismayed by some of the provisions of the recent UN resolution on Georgia. On October 13th, 2006, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1716 which prolongs the mandate of UNOMIG (the United Nations Organization Mission in Georgia) in the Abkhazian region of Georgia. UNOMIG was set up in August 1993 following an agreement to end the armed secessionist conflict in Abkhazia and currently has 121 military observers and 12 civilian police officers in place, as well as nearly 300 civilian staff members.
The Georgian Association objects not to the extension of UNOMIG’s mission, which the Georgian government and the majority of the Georgian people support, but to the distorted information contained in the resolution. Furthermore, the US government’s participation in the drafting of the resolution suggests to us and the rest of the world that the US administration has shifted its policy towards tolerance for Russia’s de facto annexation of Georgian territory.
The resolution declares that the “new and tense situation” in Georgian-Abkhazian relations resulted “at least in part, from the Georgian special operation in the upper Kodori Valley”, a part of Abkhazia still under Georgian government control. In fact, the Georgian government reduced tensions in the Valley by its special operation which ended the lawless rule of Georgian bands there this July. Since October, the Georgian government has permitted Russian dominated CIS peacekeeping troops to monitor the situation in the Upper Kodori Valley. Such monitoring was not possible before the Georgian operation. The one-sidedness of UNSC resolution 1716 is reflected in its condemnation of the Georgian government for “militant rhetoric and provocative actions” and its praise for the CIS peacekeeping troops and their “stabilizing role.” In reality, the CIS peacekeepers have proved completely ineffective at protecting the local Georgian population and have regularly participated in anti-Georgian actions in Gali and other regions of Abkhazia. This is why the Georgian government is asking for the replacement of CIS peacekeepers with an international force.
This resolution is a step backwards and a disappointment to the Georgian people who have come to expect US government support for its attempt to protect Georgia’s sovereign rights and its citizens in the territory of Abkhazia. This resolution comes at a time when the Russian government is persecuting Georgian citizens and Russian citizens of Georgian origin in Russian cities following the Georgian government’s arrest – and later return – of Russian spies this October. This anti-Georgian campaign orchestrated by the Russian government has led to the closure of Georgian businesses in Russia, the illegal and often forced entry into Georgian homes by Russian officials, pressure on the Russian Ministry of Education to supply information on Georgian pupils, and the forced deportation of Georgians. It is a dangerous policy of cleansing that reflects the anti-democratic and authoritarian policies of the Russian government. US support of UNSC resolution 1716 condones Russian de facto annexations abroad and ignores Russian discriminatory policies at home.
On May 21, 2007 the Georgian Association hosted a reception at the Senate Russell building in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Georgian Association in the United States, and to celebrate the National Independence Day of the Republic of Georgia. The Independence Day is officially recognized on May 26th.
At the reception, the Georgian Association honored Senator Richard Lugar (R – Indiana, Committee on Foreign Relations) for his continued support of issues important to the Country and people of Georgia. Following brief remarks by Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Association, the Senator was presented a Georgian icon of Saint George. The icon, set in walnut wood, represents historical religious traditions, and modern artistry.
This event brought together Association members, friends of Georgia, U.S. and Georgian government representatives and business leaders, and the Georgian diplomatic community. Among these guests were Ambassador Sikharulidze, Ambassador Alasania, Archbishop Nicolas of Samtskhe Javakheti, Georgian Minister of Environment and Natural Resource Protection – David Tkeshelashvili, and Frank P. Greinke, the newly appointed Honorary Consul of Georgia in California.
For more information contact:
Contact: Maka Gabelia