Popular Force movement: public “entitled to know” US aid amount, purpose in Georgia

The MPs also said in their comments the US embassy would be “relatively honest” if the diplomatic representation “talked about partnership instead of assistance” to Georgia. Photo: Parliament of Georgia

Agenda.ge, 10 Oct 2022 - 12:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian public is “entitled to know” how much aid money the United States has spent in Georgia and for what purpose, a group of former ruling Georgian Dream party lawmakers now composing the Popular Force movement said in a statement released on Monday.

The MPs said they had asked US ambassador Kelly Degnan about the amount of funds spent by the United States in Georgia over the past 30 years, claiming the diplomat had left their inquiry without an answer and noting her comments on the funds contradicted other available information.

Has [the aid been] $6 billion, $4.5 billion or $3.5 billion? The ambassador often talks about $6 billion, while according to their own official sources, America has spent $4.5 billion on Georgia, of which only $3.5 billion was transferred to [the country]. When the ambassador leaves our question unanswered, we should assume that America has spent $3.5 billion on Georgia at best”, the statement said.

The members of the movement also noted they had not received an answer to the question on why “twice as much money had been spent [by the US] on Georgia under [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili's authoritarian regime” as the amount following the Georgian Dream party coming into power in 2012.

“In total, from the early 2000s to 2012, Americans spent more than $2 billion to bring the United National Movement to power, and to keep it in power”, the statement by the group of lawmakers said.

The results of the activities of the United National Movement party in power were: [the Russian] occupation of 20 percent of the country's territories, overcrowded prisons, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of people, total business racketeering, the court, the prosecutor's office and the ministry of internal affairs being put in the service of the repressive machine, the monopolised media, the distorted psyche of people and many other vices, the severe effects of which our country and public, unfortunately, feels to this day”, they also claimed.

The MPs also said in their comments the US embassy would be “relatively honest” if the diplomatic representation “talked about partnership instead of assistance” to Georgia. 

Of course, a healthy partnership with America is welcome for us. A sincere partnership with the United States of America has always been a priority for us, and we think that such a partnership would be more effective and more beneficial for both countries. However, when we talk about partnership, everything must be certain here as well”, the statement noted.

“To put it mildly, it is completely unacceptable to consider as assistance the $2 billion spent on bringing and keeping the United National Movement party to power”, the remarks said, adding the embassy was “still trying to return the same United National Movement to power, and the largest part of the billion dollars spent since 2013 has been used for this”.

The MPs alleged “the largest part” of the money spent by the embassy after 2012 had “funded the NGOs that have been openly involved in revolutionary processes twice in the past two years”. They also stressed the result of a return of UNM to power would be “repression, authoritarianism and a new war, which will lead to the destruction of the country”. 

“The Georgian public is entitled to know how much money the Americans actually spend in Georgia and for what purpose. In addition, it is no less important to show more sincerity towards the Georgian public and stop calling consumption an assistance”, they also claimed.

“Finally, when we talk about partnership, it is important that the content of this partnership is clearly defined, and that a clear line is drawn between support and harm. Only in such conditions the partnership can yield mutually beneficial results”, the statement concluded.

Popular Force was established in July by three MPs who said they had left Georgian Dream after a disagreement over the approach to public relations with the rest of the team, claiming they had decided to use their new status to periodically release information on political developments in the country that would otherwise be kept within official circles.

They have since come out with controversial public statements that have included allegations of the US embassy in Georgia’s interference in the country’s judiciary, accusations of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy being partial in domestic politics, and more.