The United States (US) Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken has confirmed his country supported Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration during a meeting with Georgia’s Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Washington.
The two officials held a bilateral meeting before delivering speeches at the fifth Strategic Partnership Commission Plenary Session, which focused on US-Georgia relations, yesterday.
"We had a very good, very productive bilateral meeting where I emphasised our determined support for Georgia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community,” Blinken said after yesterday’s meeting.
During productive meeting @ABlinken confirmed support to #Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration pic.twitter.com/P8nMoepxNV— MFA of Georgia (@MFAgovge) November 3, 2015
He added the parties also discussed a range of issues, from their growing trade partnership to the US’ firm solidarity against external threats to Georgia’s sovereignty.
"We stand by the commitment we made in Bucharest that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we continue to strongly support its aspirations on this path”, the Deputy Secretary of State said.
Blinken thanked Georgia for its participation in international peacekeeping missions.
"We honour the sacrifice made by Georgian soldiers and their families and express our deep appreciation for their role in making this world a safer place for us all,” he said.
"Decisions on Georgia’s future should be made by the citizens of Georgia and by them alone. We continue to call on Russia to fulfil its obligations under the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, including the withdrawal of all its forces to pre-conflict positions and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance.”
"We welcome Georgia’s measured reactions to provocations on the administrative boundary lines and outreach to the residents of the occupied territories. The world needs a prosperous and democratic Georgia.”
Antony J. #Blinken: "We continue to call on #Russia to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement." pic.twitter.com/sghFxhEdCy— MOD Georgia (@ModGovGe) November 3, 2015
The US Deputy Secretary of State underlined Georgia was doing its best to strengthen its economic role in the world.
"Georgia has carried out important economic, legal and governance reforms,” he said.
"Last week’s US-Georgia High Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment and last month’s Silk Road Forum are only two examples of the many ways that Georgia is seizing new opportunities to drive sustainable development and long-term prosperity. Moreover, Georgia’s strategic location as a bridge between Europe and Asia makes its EU Association Agreement—with its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area—all the more important,” Blinken said.
Meanwhile at the meeting Georgia’s Foreign Minister focused on the importance of economic cooperation between Georgia and the US and on the strengthening the role of Georgia as a transit country.
"There is a huge untapped potential for bolstering US-Georgia trade and economic ties”, said Kvirikashvili.
"Georgia is blessed with an exceptionally advantageous location and potential to turn into a gateway linking Europe with the growing East Asian markets through the Caspian Sea and the Central Asia region.”
In this regard, Kvirikashvili thanked the US side for its "support and high-level participation” in the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum in October.
He said Georgia fully understood the importance of enhancing the Georgian workforce through strategic investment in education.
"Let me therefore express our deep appreciation for the US investment of $140 million USD through the Second Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, aimed at improving the quality of education in science, technology, engineering and math fields,” he said.
"I would also like to stress the importance of the US-sponsored exchange programs”.
Georgian Vice Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and US Senator John McCain. Photo by the Ministry's Press Office.
While in the US, Kvirikashvili also met Senator John McCain as well as Senators Tom Cotton and Jefferson Sessions. Both sides reconfirmed the existence of a strong, strategic partnership between Georgia and the US and pledged to further intensify this mutually beneficial relationship.