Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze deliver statements to the press, at the Department of State.
Good morning, everyone. It’s my pleasure to be with you here today Mister Prime Minister. You’re concluding a week of travel here across the United States, you told me you’re headed to the great state of Texas after this. I’m only sorry you’re not headed to Kansas, my home state. Next trip. Look, Georgia is home to an ancient culture and a proud people. It’s history is played out against an incredible backdrop of the tall peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, and the shores of the Black Sea, and the center of its capital city, Tbilisi, is the statue of Saint George famously slaying the dragon. The monument shows who Georgians truly are, fearless and undaunted. We’ve seen proof of that character ever since we signed the US Georgia Charter on the strategic partnership, and this year marks a decade. Ten years. The ten-year anniversary of that document. In the time since our nations have collaborated closely on issues that range from defense and security to trade and energy, to strengthening Democracy and expanding opportunities for cultural exchange as well. Throughout this decade Georgia has shown tremendous resolve in the wake of the 2008 unlawful Russian invasion of part of its territory. Today it remains an international tourist destination, an important strategic partner for the United States, and a contributor to global security. In light of my conversation today with the Prime Minister, I’m pleased to announce that we’re issuing a joint declaration that will commemorate this tenth anniversary of the charter, which I mentioned. The declaration outlines the future direction of our relationship. One we hope will continue to be defined by a close friendship and a broad series of shared commitments. The charter’s leadership role, as an aspiring NATO ally, is just one reason we’re so enthusiastic to work together. President Trump has called for all nations to do more to resolve global challenges, and Georgia’s doing just that in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Even as we speak 32 brave Georgian soldiers know that they have given their all while serving alongside Americans there. And 870 Georgian soldiers serve in support of NATO’s mission there. Beyond Afghanistan, Georgia is working to make sure its forces can integrate seamlessly with NATO’s. Further progress on that score will serve our strategic purposes as well, as the alliance continues this cooperation with Georgia in the Black Sea region. Georgia’s efforts give me great confidence to speak for President Trump, and all of the United States’ government, when I say that you will continue to have the support of the United States as you seek to become a NATO member. It’s also important to note that Georgia is already at 2% of their GDP being spent on defense, the NATO threshold that we have pushed all NATO allies to achieve. It knows firsthand from experience why deterrents matter, why strong defense matters, why capabilities are of the highest importance. Georgia has fought to maintain its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression, and Russia’s unlawful occupation of Georgian territory, and its failure to adhere to the ceasefire obligations. Russia’s belligerence is just one reason we’re proud of our military support to the Georgian defense readiness program. We are helping train and equip a self-sufficient force that will ensure Georgia’s territorial defense. And this in turn too will provide greater security for the region as a whole, which is good for Georgia, good for the United States, and good for the entire world. It’s important that everyone recognize too that our relationship goes much deeper than this, through these security issues. In our conversation today I encouraged Georgia’s ongoing effort to improve its judicial system, and to make sure its democracy includes free and fair elections. The Prime Minister and I also had the chance to discuss Georgia’s parliament’s responsibility to make sure government agencies act lawfully and deliver what they promise to their citizens. Finally, I communicated our hope that Georgia completes the port project. The project and others will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence. Those pretended friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart. Georgia’s growth as a free nation, after nearly a century of Soviet Communism, proves it’s on the right track. We’re proud to be a good partner for them. We have to keep working together to guard against the risk that these hard-won gains will be lost, and ensure that Georgia has a continued future anchored firmly in the West. Mister Prime Minister, thank you for being with me today, thank you for joining our team, thanking for you and Georgia being a good friend and partner to the United States of America. Mister Prime Minister?
Mister Secretary, thank you for the warm welcome and continuing support of Georgia. It is good to be back in Washington, especially to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the US Georgia strategic partnership. In 2008 Russia invaded and subsequently has occupied the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Svaneti. Since that crisis Georgia and the US created a platform from rebuilding Georgia, strengthening its institutions, developing democracy, and the rule of law. And increasing the military cooperation and people to people contacts between our nations. Georgia’s many accomplishments are a direct result of the success of US Georgia strategic partnership, which we celebrate today some ten years after it was launched. Over the last decade we have developed dynamic, comprehensive cooperation with the United States and our ties have grown to all time high under President Trump’s administration. I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments that we have achieved together. First and foremost the level of security coordination between US and Georgia has never been stronger. Georgia is America’s loyal partner in the global stage. Our friendship is time tested and our bonds are forged in combat. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the US and NATO allies in Afghanistan, where Georgia is one of the largest troop contributors to the resolute support mission. We are committed to continuing our significant contribution to shared Euro Atlantic security. Georgia, with its expanded interoperability with NATO, and defense spending 2% of our GDP, has all the practical tools to prepare for membership of the North Atlantic Alliance. We are grateful for the support of the United States on Georgia’s NATO integration path. Our defense cooperation helped Georgia to modernize its armed forces, and build deterrence capabilities. We deeply appreciate the US commitment to the Georgia defense readiness program, and other US Georgia bilateral activities, which are essential for strengthening Georgia’s territorial defense and resilience capabilities. We highly value the United States’ unwavering support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. In response to continuous occupation and the grave humanitarian and security situation in the Russian occupied regions, we remain committed to peaceful conflict resolution within a comprehensive peace policy and with the strong support of the US, Georgia implements peace initiatives such as a Step to a Better Future, a program that promotes reconciliation and engagement with Georgian citizens residing in occupied regions. Georgia unilaterally has revamped the nonuse of force commitment. We call on Russia to resposate and fulfill its obligation under the August 2008 ceasefire agreement. Today Georgia is a stable democracy with strong state institutions with a growing and constructive economy, and vibrant civil society. Georgia is widely considered as a top reformer country in the region and beyond. We strive to become the Gold Standard in ease of doing business and legal transparency. Investment follows the opportunity where the barriers are lowest. Georgia has one of the lowest tax rates in the world. It is rated as number 7 in economic freedom and we are rated on one of the top 20 European countries in the Rule of Law index. We are grateful for your engagement in the reform process and proudly share the credit for our success with the United States. Economic cooperation continues to increase as trade between our two nations continues to grow. We are proud that nearly 200 American companies are now operating in Georgia. Georgia provides a unique gateway where American companies can conveniently and quickly reach European and Asian going markets. We hope that our strategic partnership with the United States will lead us to a unique model of a trade cooperation. This will be a next logical step that will open enormous opportunities for the American business interests in our region. In addition to our Why to Work here in Washington, and essential part of my trip to the US is to bolster Georgia’s economy. We must have a strong national economy to match our strong national security. To that end I met with potential investors and corporate partners in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. And I’m headed to Dallas later this week. And during my next visit I will definitely visit your great state. In productive discussions we explored how we can advance trade and investments in Georgia. A terrorist took my messages clear, Georgia is open for business and we welcome our American friends to safe opportunities that are existing in Georgia. We want more investment, more trade, and more of the US in Georgia. Mister Secretary, our partnership is rock solid, rooted in shared values, and mutual interests. We have a common strategic region to strengthen this unique partnership and will dedicate ourselves to a full-fledged alliance for decades to come. Thank you.
Thank you Mister Prime Minister. Thank you all.