News

Javier Colomina: I expect Allied leaders at the Washington Summit to reaffirm our support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity

What message does NATO want to convey to Georgia and the Georgian people, who, based on recent surveys, overwhelmingly favor their country's membership in the alliance, before the alliance's anniversary summit? Europetime posed a pertinent query to the Alliance. Javier Colomina, Special Representative of the NATO Secretary General for the Caucasus and Central Asia states that he anticipates the leaders of the Allies reaffirming their support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity during the Washington summit. „I expect Allied leaders at the Washington Summit to reaffirm our support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – within international recognised borders – and our commitment to a long-standing partnership with Georgia and to call on the government of Georgia to accelerate reforms to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions, in response to the Georgia’s people aspirations towards Euro-Atlantic integration,“ Javier Colomina said. NATO is a political and military alliance of 32 countries from Europe and North America. The United States will host the NATO Summit on July 9–11. At the Summit, thirty-two Allies will tackle an important agenda that includes: Affirming unwavering support for Ukraine; Strengthening deterrence and defense posture; Collaborating with industry on increasing production and growing our industrial base; Enhancing the Alliance’s partnerships; and Ensuring Allies meet their commitments to invest in their own defense, as well as our collective defense.  Javier Colomina: We are currently discussing what the tailored support should entail for Georgia and we expect them to be adopted at the Madrid Summit  

Georgia will become a NATO member, when allies assess that it is prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with membership, John Bass says

Ambassador John Bass, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, answered the question by Europetime. Q - „At the NATO summit held in Bucharest in 2008, allies decided that Georgia would join NATO. The decision was reaffirmed at the subsequent summits.  During your tenure as U.S. ambassador to Georgia, we have repeatedly heard your comments regarding the integration of Georgia into NATO.  How do your earlier assumptions and expectations align with the present dynamics and process of the country’s integration into the Alliance?”    A - „I would first say that for many of us who spent time in Georgia or working with Georgians, particularly in the aftermath of the conflict in 2008 in which, yet again, Russia was attempting to determine how a neighboring country should live, dictate whether or not that country should be free to choose its own security relationships with, in this case, NATO – having been there in that period, it’s been very disturbing to see the evolution in recent years and particularly in recent months of the Georgian Dream government.    And if someone were to ask straight up, as I think is implicit in the question, when will Georgia become a member of NATO, the answer is that Georgia will become a member, I think, when allies assess that it is prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with membership, including upholding principles – core principles of democratic governance, including the fundamental principle that people are free to choose their own leaders.  And unfortunately, since I was ambassador in Georgia, we have not seen Georgia progress to meeting those objectives. And unfortunately, we’ve seen quite a bit of work, quite a bit of retrograde, if you will.  And as the U.S. ambassador who worked quite hard to ensure that there were the conditions in place to allow Georgian Dream to compete fairly in the parliamentary elections of 2012, it is deeply disturbing to see that same group now eroding the foundations of democratic governance and society.    And as a final observation, I would say it is both deeply disturbing and saddening to see the aspirations and dreams of an entire society being held hostage to the grievances of one individual: Bidzina Ivanishvili.“ John Bass was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 17, 2021, as the Under Secretary for Management. The Secretary of State designated John Bass as Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs on March 23, 2024. A career Senior Foreign Service officer, he served as Senior Advisor at the Foreign Service Institute from 2020-2021, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan 2017-2020, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 2014 to 2017, Executive Secretary of the State Department from 2012 to 2014, and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia from 2009 to 2012. He began his diplomatic career in 1988 and has also served in positions in U.S. missions in Iraq, Italy, Belgium, and Chad.  

Investments in the development of ports in Georgia are needed, Mamuka Murjikneli, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group, says at the Caspian Policy Center forum in Washington

Mamuka Murjiknel, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group, spoke on a panel during the 8th Annual Trans-Caspian Forum held at the Cosmos Club in Washington. At the Caspian Policy Center meeting in Washington, Wondernet Investment Group CEO Mamuka Murjikneli says that investments in the development of Georgia's ports are imperative. Mamuka Murjikneli added that the growing importance of the Middle Corridor is demanding an increased capacity. While the traffic is there, upgrades to the route are lagging. “We see that Central Asia itself is growing and new facilities that would be built there would require increased capacity handling for key ports.” “Right now, the most important priority in the Middle Corridor is safety [of cargoes],” which enables smooth connectivity and transport of goods, Murjikneli added. “Investments in the development of ports in Georgia and Azerbaijan are needed. Especially in Georgia, the demand is growing, and the construction of a deep seaport is of high importance,” he emphasized. How to Maximize the Middle Corridor was the theme of the 8th Annual Trans-Caspian Forum at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC., hosted by the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) in partnership with the embassies of the Caspian Region.  The event brought together key stakeholders from the United States and the Caspian Region to discuss and strategize how to enhance connectivity and trade across the Middle Corridor, which connects countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe, China, and South Asia. The final panel, How to Do Business Better Along the Middle Corridor, highlighted successful business practices and opportunities in the region. Moderated by Dr. Eric Rudenshiold, Caspian Policy Center Board Member, the discussion featured Robert Scher, the Vice President of BP America; Mamuka Murjikneli, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group; Laura Brank, Partner of Dechert LLP; and Eugene Seah, Chief Operating Officer of Baku International Sea Trade Port. Speakers from the final panel emphasized the importance of the Caspian region for international trade and transit, but they pointed out that there are still a few legal hurdles to overcome for new opportunities to open for the private sector.

EBRD finances Tbilisi’s solid waste management system

Bank to support Tbilisi’s solid waste management and disposal system Funding will help to set up the first waste-treatment plant in Tbilisi Loan to be co-financed by the Green Climate Fund The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extending a €22 million loan to Tbilservice Group to improve the solid waste management and disposal system in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. The funding will support the first waste-treatment plant in Tbilisi, as part of the city’s participation in the EBRD Green Cities programme. The loan is co-financed with concessional funding of up to €4 million by the Green Climate Fund. The project will prioritise the redirection of waste away from the sanitary landfill for comprehensive waste treatment, including mechanical-biological treatment and the recovery of recyclable materials. This will help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (by 72 per cent compared to the baseline) and improve the overall environment in the city. The project will also address Tbilisi’s priority needs identified under its Green City Action Plan (GCAP) and will support the implementation of a GCAP action (“solid waste action 2”) on the construction of new waste treatment facilities, in line with the strategic objective of improving the city's solid waste management system. Alkis Vryenios Drakinos, EBRD Regional Director for the Caucasus, said: “Tbilisi is one of the first pilot cities under the EBRD’s innovative Green Cities programme that was launched eight years ago. Since then, we have been cooperating with the city and the Ministry of Finance to implement several important projects to help make Tbilisi greener. Today, we are delighted to be making another pivotal step towards improving the city’s infrastructure and its people’s wellbeing.” Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi, said: “For years, we have been partnering with the EBRD in our quest to transition to European standards that are up to date and safe for the environment. As a result, the EBRD is funding crucial projects in our city. One such project is the construction of the first waste-treatment plant in Tbilisi, for which €26 million has been allocated. This will lay the foundation for separation in waste collection and treatment in Georgia – a very important step forward for the city’s people and for the environment.” Lasha Khutsishvili, Minister of Finance of Georgia, said: “Active cooperation continues between Georgia and the EBRD, particularly in terms of advancing green-economy initiatives. Today’s signing of the loan agreement for the Tbilisi waste-treatment project, securing a total of €26 million, marks another milestone in this collaboration. This project aims to elevate Tbilisi to European standards, ensuring environmental protection and enhancing citizens’ health. I would like to express gratitude to our partners for their support in this endeavour.” The EBRD has participated in 290 projects in Georgia to date, with overall investments totalling around €5 billion, 83 per cent of which have been in the private sector. Overall, the EBRD’s green financing in Georgia accounted for 37 per cent of its total investment volume in the country in 2023.   

OSCE/ODIHR is already planning a pre-election assessment mission at the latest in May

OSCE/ODIHR is already planning a pre-election assessment mission at the latest in May. That`s according to Katya Andrusz, spokesperson of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, speaking with Europetime. „We have indeed received an invitation from the authorities to observe this year’s parliamentary elections, and are already planning a pre-election assessment mission at the latest in May. As you may know, ODIHR visits countries across the OSCE some months before an election is due to take place, at the invitation of the national authorities. During this needs assessment mission we speak to numerous people involved in the election, including government officials, the election administration, members of the judiciary, political parties, representatives of civil society, and the media. Only after this detailed assessment to evaluate the pre-election environment and preparations for voting day is a decision taken about the election observation and what format it will take, including the number of observers. In Georgia, we have consistently observed elections in the country, and our core team of experts regularly deploy 6-8 weeks ahead of election day,“ Katya Andrusz told Europetime.  

EEAS Spokesperson: Together with our US colleagues, we have been working on how to address the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine across the Black Sea region

Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for the foreign affairs and security policy of the European Union, said that the EU and US share common interests in the Black Sea region. According to him, they cooperate to support partners in the region to bolster their resilience to increasing hybrid and cyber challenges as well. „Together with our US colleagues, we have been working on how to address the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine across the Black Sea region - both in the short and the long run. We have focused on supporting Ukraine, but also helping the region address the wider fallout of Russia’s war. We have done this in many fora, including the EU-US Security and Defence Dialogue, the UN, the G7, etc. The EU and US share common interests in the region to: (1) increase coordination with partners; (2) deepen economic ties; (3) strengthen energy security; (4) support efforts to bolster democratic resilience, including fighting false narratives and Russian state-controlled propaganda, in accordance with our shared values; (5) support partners in the region to bolster their resilience to increasing hybrid and cyber challenges. We cooperate to help accelerating Ukrainian grain exports, notably after Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the UN-Türkiye-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Leaders have been unequivocal in their Joint statement following the US-EU Summit on 20th October 2023 in Washington D.C. We continue to pursue the Solidarity Lanes objectives to increase efficiency and reduce transport costs. The US collaboration with the European partners in Constanta, Romania’s largest port city on the Black Sea coast, is a good example of that. The EU has deployed a Multipurpose Maritime Operation in the Black Sea, involving the EU Agencies with Coast Guard functions (Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency, European Fisheries Control Agency), riparian EU Member States, and also other EU Member States. Georgian officials were invited to observe various activities in this context. Furthermore, the EU has supported capacity building, including for Georgia, through the Black and Caspian Sea I project and its current successor Black and Caspian Seas II, implemented by the European Maritime Safety Agency. Looking ahead, the EU is working on the 4th implementation report of the EU Black Sea Synergy. This stock-tacking exercise will also help us identify key trends and findings, which could factor into future EU thinking on the Black Sea cooperation. At its core there are issues of connectivity, energy, digital transformation, blue economy, environment, fisheries and maritime security, resilience and the protection of critical infrastructure,“Stano told Europetime. The US sees Georgia as a critical security partner for the Black Sea, James O’Brien says  

Ombudsman Shares Negative Evaluation by ODIHR on ‘Foreign Agents’ Laws

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has produced a legal report concerning the “Foreign Agents” draft laws introduced in the Georgian Parliament in February 2023. The report was prepared in response to requests submitted by the Public Defender on February 24 and March 6. The assessment of these initiatives by ODIHR was negative, according to a statement from the Ombudsman issued on August 9. The Ombudsman’s statement notes that following large social protests, the deliberation of the aforementioned draft laws within the Georgian Parliament was halted. Specifically, one of the draft laws was withdrawn, while the other was discarded during the second reading. Despite these developments, and due to the significance of the matter at hand, OSCE/ODIHR continued to analyze the issue and presented an extensive overview of human rights standards along with associated recommendations. The document primarily concentrates on the adverse impacts of the draft laws on fundamental human rights. These rights include freedom of association, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, participation in public affairs, and protection from discrimination. “The Note also reviews the US and Australian legislations. It is emphasized that they are fundamentally different cases, have an entirely different goal and scale, which is why they do not represent relevant comparative examples in the Georgian context,” – reads the statement by the Public Defender of Georgia. OSCE/ODIHR’s Legal Note on “Foreign Agents” Draft-Laws The “Note on Legislative Initiatives on Transparency and Regulation of Associations Funded from Abroad or so-called ‘Foreign Agents Laws’ and Similar Legislation and their Compliance with International Human Rights Standards” opens by highlighting that the fundamental right to freedom of association is integral to a vibrant and participatory democracy and is intertwined with various human rights. Essential to this right is access to diverse funding sources, including international and foreign funding. Nevertheless, it points out that certain nations regard foreign funding with suspicion. The Notes notes that “overall, the aim of so-called “foreign agents laws” or similar legislation is generally to seek to increase the scrutiny of such funding and of the activities of the recipient associations by introducing new obligations for such associations such as separate and generally burdensome registration, labelling, reporting, accounting and publication/disclosure requirements”, etc. The Note stresses that these regulations often fall short of meeting the rigorous criteria established by international human rights law. These criteria dictate that constraints on freedom of association must be lawful, pursue legitimate objectives, demonstrate proportionality and necessity within a democratic society, and refrain from discrimination. Additionally, the Note draws upon comparative viewpoints, regional legal precedents, and authoritative recommendations to offer supplementary insight on this issue. The assessment finds that the rationale for implementing legislative initiatives related to “foreign agents” laws often lacks evidence of a tangible, current, or serious threat to national interests or democracy. Adequate risk-based evaluations of the civil society sector, confirming NGO involvement in criminal activities, are frequently absent. Moreover, national justifications for such legislative initiatives typically fall short of being “relevant and sufficient.” They fail to demonstrate insufficiencies in existing legal frameworks and the appropriateness of proposed measures. “An abstract assumption that all funds originating from abroad constitute a potential threat to national interests is incompatible with international human rights standards,” – reads the Note. It is also noted that lack of proper reasoning for differential treatment based on funding’s foreign origin suggests potential discrimination. Regulations on associations are often stricter than those on business entities, without clear explanations. In addition, the report highlights that “the legal drafters usually fail to show that they have assessed the potential negative impact of a legislation on associations or considered other legal alternatives and selected the least intrusive measures with regard to the protection of fundamental rights,” adding that aiming for “transparency” or “publicity” of association funding isn’t inherently a legitimate aim, though it could be under specific circumstances related to public order or preventing crimes. The Note emphasizes that objectives like countering money laundering or terrorism financing don’t automatically justify new reporting obligations for all associations. References to foreign laws like the United States Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Australian Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act (FITS) aren’t suitable comparisons for justifying initiatives targeting foreign-funded associations. The report also notes that “foreign agents” laws introduce control measures, such as unscheduled inspections without clear legal grounds or court authorization. In certain cases, these laws even impose fines, imprisonment, or association dissolution as consequences for violations that are seen as disproportionate. These laws frequently violate principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination, indirectly affecting associations that advocate minority viewpoints. In practical terms, “foreign agents” laws run the risk of discrediting valid organizations, fostering mistrust, fear, and hostility, thus complicating their operational activities.

Strasbourg Court holds that Russia is to pay more than 129 million euros in compensation to Georgia relating to August 2008 war

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay more than 129 million euros in compensation to Georgia for violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and damages caused to citizens as a result of the August 2008 war. In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II), the European Court of Human Rights examined the question of just satisfaction (Article 41). The case concerned allegations by the Georgian Government of administrative practices on the part of the Russian Federation entailing various breaches of the Convention, in connection with the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008. „In today’s Grand Chamber judgment concerning the question of just satisfaction, the Court held, unanimously: - that it had jurisdiction under Article 58 of the Convention to deal with the applicant Government’s claims for just satisfaction under Article 41 of the Convention notwithstanding the cessation of the Russian Federation’s membership of the Council of Europe, and that the respondent Government’s failure to cooperate did not present an obstacle to their examination; - that Article 41 of the Convention was applicable to the present case in respect of the victims of the administrative practice of killing of civilians in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the “buffer zone”, the victims of the administrative practice of torching and looting of houses in the “buffer zone”, the victims of the administrative practice of inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians held by the South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia” in Tskhinvali between approximately 10 and 27 August 2008, the victims of the administrative practice of torture of Georgian prisoners of war detained by the South Ossetian forces in Tskhinvali between 8 and 17 August 2008, the victims of the administrative practice of preventing the return of Georgian nationals to their respective homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the victims of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the deaths which had occurred during the active phase of the hostilities or after the cessation of hostilities; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 3,250,000 (three million two hundred and fifty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 50 victims of the administrative practice of killing of civilians in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the “buffer zone” and of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into those killings; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 2,697,500 (two million six hundred and ninety-seven thousand five hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 166 victims of the administrative practice of inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians held by the South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia” in Tskhinvali between approximately 10 and 27 August 2008; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 640,000 (six hundred and forty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 16 victims of the administrative practice of torture of Georgian prisoners of war detained by the South Ossetian forces in Tskhinvali between 8 and 17 August 2008; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 115,000,000 (one hundred and fifteen million euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 23,000 victims of the administrative practice of preventing the return of Georgian nationals to their respective homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 8,240,000 (eight million two hundred and forty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 412 victims of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the deaths which had occurred during the active phase of the hostilities”, reads the Court’s press release. The Court also notes that the principal judgment in the present case was delivered on 21 January 2021 and since the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention was not ready for decision, the Court reserved it and invited the applicant Government and the respondent Government to submit their observations on the matter.

Nino Kadagidze: The time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues

The time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues. In any case, I believe that a normative framework based on certain correct views can be developed, which we also discussed with the Prime Minister, this will in fact rule out any form of interference in the court and will minimize the influence of politics in the court, Chairperson of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Council of Justice Nino Kadagidze stated after meeting with PM Irakli Gharibashvili. According to her, everyone can make mistakes, however, she remains hopeful that the question of sanctioning judges by the relevant office or agencies will be reviewed. "It is very sad that there is an attempt to shift high political tensions in the court. Otherwise, I cannot explain the unprecedented decision made by the US Secretary of State to designate three life-tenure judges and one former judge. The judiciary has faced many challenges over the years, but I want to say loudly that there is a real, genuine and tangible achievement, which is a corruption-free judiciary. Therefore, I cannot accept any statement about the existence of corruption in the court. Despite my personal request, I was not provided with substantiated evidence, but given the assumptions and hints as to what became the basis for accusing my colleagues of corruption, I fully support them. I, as the Chairperson of the Supreme Court and the Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Justice, will be the guarantor of inviolability and freedom of each of us and our judges. Despite the 12 recommendations for the state, one of which is the judicial system, even beyond that, Georgian justice is ahead of more than one of our neighboring and friendly countries in all aspects, in all parameters. Therefore, it is tough for me that this information will not be used in the difficult and very valuable, important path for our country towards European integration. I always maintained a special attitude towards our partners and friends, I was always deliberate in my relations with them. I think that the moment has come today when I demand reciprocity from them, everyone can make a mistake, but I believe that admitting a mistake is only a trait of the strong, and therefore I have a very high hope that the relevant office or agencies will solve this issue and it will definitely be reviewed. Additionally, we considered it necessary that the time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues. In any case, I believe that a normative framework based on certain correct views can be developed, which we also discussed with the Prime Minister, this will in fact rule out any form of interference in the court and will minimize the influence of politics in the court," said Nino Kadagidze.  

Ambassador Hubert Knirsch: The verdict of the European Court confirms that Russia is responsible before the law for human rights abuses in the torn-away regions that occurred after the 2008 war

In an interview with Europetime, Germany's ambassador to Georgia- Hubert Knirsch commented on the European Court of Human Rights verdict. "The verdict of the European Court of Human Rights confirms that Russia is responsible before the law for human rights abuses in the torn-away regions that occurred after the 2008 war. Our political ambition must be not only to effectively include these regions in the international mechanisms for the protection of human rights but also to transform and ultimately to solve the conflicts that have cast their shadows over them for such a long time already. All participants should make full use of the Geneva International Discussions to move forward on this road",- Hubert Knirsch said.

economic

Investments in the development of ports in Georgia are needed, Mamuka Murjikneli, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group, says at the Caspian Policy Center forum in Washington

Mamuka Murjiknel, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group, spoke on a panel during the 8th Annual Trans-Caspian Forum held at the Cosmos Club in Washington. At the Caspian Policy Center meeting in Washington, Wondernet Investment Group CEO Mamuka Murjikneli says that investments in the development of Georgia's ports are imperative. Mamuka Murjikneli added that the growing importance of the Middle Corridor is demanding an increased capacity. While the traffic is there, upgrades to the route are lagging. “We see that Central Asia itself is growing and new facilities that would be built there would require increased capacity handling for key ports.” “Right now, the most important priority in the Middle Corridor is safety [of cargoes],” which enables smooth connectivity and transport of goods, Murjikneli added. “Investments in the development of ports in Georgia and Azerbaijan are needed. Especially in Georgia, the demand is growing, and the construction of a deep seaport is of high importance,” he emphasized. How to Maximize the Middle Corridor was the theme of the 8th Annual Trans-Caspian Forum at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC., hosted by the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) in partnership with the embassies of the Caspian Region.  The event brought together key stakeholders from the United States and the Caspian Region to discuss and strategize how to enhance connectivity and trade across the Middle Corridor, which connects countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe, China, and South Asia. The final panel, How to Do Business Better Along the Middle Corridor, highlighted successful business practices and opportunities in the region. Moderated by Dr. Eric Rudenshiold, Caspian Policy Center Board Member, the discussion featured Robert Scher, the Vice President of BP America; Mamuka Murjikneli, CEO of the Wondernet Investment Group; Laura Brank, Partner of Dechert LLP; and Eugene Seah, Chief Operating Officer of Baku International Sea Trade Port. Speakers from the final panel emphasized the importance of the Caspian region for international trade and transit, but they pointed out that there are still a few legal hurdles to overcome for new opportunities to open for the private sector.

Analytics

Georgia will become a NATO member, when allies assess that it is prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with membership, John Bass says

Ambassador John Bass, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, answered the question by Europetime. Q - „At the NATO summit held in Bucharest in 2008, allies decided that Georgia would join NATO. The decision was reaffirmed at the subsequent summits.  During your tenure as U.S. ambassador to Georgia, we have repeatedly heard your comments regarding the integration of Georgia into NATO.  How do your earlier assumptions and expectations align with the present dynamics and process of the country’s integration into the Alliance?”    A - „I would first say that for many of us who spent time in Georgia or working with Georgians, particularly in the aftermath of the conflict in 2008 in which, yet again, Russia was attempting to determine how a neighboring country should live, dictate whether or not that country should be free to choose its own security relationships with, in this case, NATO – having been there in that period, it’s been very disturbing to see the evolution in recent years and particularly in recent months of the Georgian Dream government.    And if someone were to ask straight up, as I think is implicit in the question, when will Georgia become a member of NATO, the answer is that Georgia will become a member, I think, when allies assess that it is prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with membership, including upholding principles – core principles of democratic governance, including the fundamental principle that people are free to choose their own leaders.  And unfortunately, since I was ambassador in Georgia, we have not seen Georgia progress to meeting those objectives. And unfortunately, we’ve seen quite a bit of work, quite a bit of retrograde, if you will.  And as the U.S. ambassador who worked quite hard to ensure that there were the conditions in place to allow Georgian Dream to compete fairly in the parliamentary elections of 2012, it is deeply disturbing to see that same group now eroding the foundations of democratic governance and society.    And as a final observation, I would say it is both deeply disturbing and saddening to see the aspirations and dreams of an entire society being held hostage to the grievances of one individual: Bidzina Ivanishvili.“ John Bass was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 17, 2021, as the Under Secretary for Management. The Secretary of State designated John Bass as Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs on March 23, 2024. A career Senior Foreign Service officer, he served as Senior Advisor at the Foreign Service Institute from 2020-2021, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan 2017-2020, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 2014 to 2017, Executive Secretary of the State Department from 2012 to 2014, and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia from 2009 to 2012. He began his diplomatic career in 1988 and has also served in positions in U.S. missions in Iraq, Italy, Belgium, and Chad.  

EEAS Spokesperson: Together with our US colleagues, we have been working on how to address the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine across the Black Sea region

Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for the foreign affairs and security policy of the European Union, said that the EU and US share common interests in the Black Sea region. According to him, they cooperate to support partners in the region to bolster their resilience to increasing hybrid and cyber challenges as well. „Together with our US colleagues, we have been working on how to address the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine across the Black Sea region - both in the short and the long run. We have focused on supporting Ukraine, but also helping the region address the wider fallout of Russia’s war. We have done this in many fora, including the EU-US Security and Defence Dialogue, the UN, the G7, etc. The EU and US share common interests in the region to: (1) increase coordination with partners; (2) deepen economic ties; (3) strengthen energy security; (4) support efforts to bolster democratic resilience, including fighting false narratives and Russian state-controlled propaganda, in accordance with our shared values; (5) support partners in the region to bolster their resilience to increasing hybrid and cyber challenges. We cooperate to help accelerating Ukrainian grain exports, notably after Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the UN-Türkiye-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Leaders have been unequivocal in their Joint statement following the US-EU Summit on 20th October 2023 in Washington D.C. We continue to pursue the Solidarity Lanes objectives to increase efficiency and reduce transport costs. The US collaboration with the European partners in Constanta, Romania’s largest port city on the Black Sea coast, is a good example of that. The EU has deployed a Multipurpose Maritime Operation in the Black Sea, involving the EU Agencies with Coast Guard functions (Frontex, the European Maritime Safety Agency, European Fisheries Control Agency), riparian EU Member States, and also other EU Member States. Georgian officials were invited to observe various activities in this context. Furthermore, the EU has supported capacity building, including for Georgia, through the Black and Caspian Sea I project and its current successor Black and Caspian Seas II, implemented by the European Maritime Safety Agency. Looking ahead, the EU is working on the 4th implementation report of the EU Black Sea Synergy. This stock-tacking exercise will also help us identify key trends and findings, which could factor into future EU thinking on the Black Sea cooperation. At its core there are issues of connectivity, energy, digital transformation, blue economy, environment, fisheries and maritime security, resilience and the protection of critical infrastructure,“Stano told Europetime. The US sees Georgia as a critical security partner for the Black Sea, James O’Brien says  

USEUCOM: Georgia actively contributes to regional stability

The United States Embassy in Bucharest and U.S. European Command (EUCOM) hosted senior U.S. policymakers in Bucharest, Romania, January 22-23, to discuss U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic efforts, and security interests in the Black Sea Region. Senior U.S. diplomats, military leaders, and ambassadors engaged on critical security topics including Russia’s war against Ukraine, increased maritime mobility in the Black Sea Region, and regional plans for deterrence and defense. According to EUCOM speaking with Europetime „Georgia actively contributes to regional stability through its involvement in NATO initiatives and exercises, leveraging its strategic location in the South Caucasus to safeguard energy routes and address security challenges.“ „The Department of Defense maintains strong security ties with Georgia's Ministry of Defense and the Georgian Defense Forces. Georgia actively contributes to regional stability through its involvement in NATO initiatives and exercises, leveraging its strategic location in the South Caucasus to safeguard energy routes and address security challenges. This partnership benefits NATO and Europe by providing a reliable partner that promotes security, stability and shared values in a complex geopolitical environment.  For all questions related to foreign policy and diplomatic efforts in the Black Sea region, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, and Ambassador Dunnigan, we would kindly refer you to the Embassy's Public Affairs team,“ U.S. European Command's public affairs office told Europetime. According to USEUCOM, the discussion in Bucharest advanced efforts by U.S. Defense and State Department leaders to merge strategic initiatives and interagency coordination to counter threats and strengthen partnerships. Attendees included U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien, Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, Ambassador to Georgia Robin Dunnigan, Ambassador to Türkiye Jeffrey Flake, Ambassador to Armenia Kristina Kvien, Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mark Libby, Ambassador to Moldova Kent Logsdon, Ambassador to the Russian Federation Lynne Tracy, and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Bulgaria Andrea Brouillette-Rodriguez. Chiefs-of-mission conferences facilitate strategic discussions among U.S. diplomatic and defense leaders to formulate strategic initiatives to further U.S. foreign policy and national security. “The Black Sea is crucial for global peace and stability, and its importance is only expected to increase in the coming years,” U.S. Ambassador to Romania Kathleen Kavalec said. “It is a vital export transit route, and its interconnectors facilitate trade and energy flows between Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East, making it a crucial economic hub.” “Russia’s war against Ukraine is the most significant conflict in Europe since World War II, and today’s biggest threat to international order,” Kavalec cautioned. “Such an attack on the international order anywhere affects peace and stability everywhere including in the Black Sea region.” “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine altered the security environment in the Black Sea Region,” said Cavoli. “The region is of critical geostrategic importance to USEUCOM, our Allies and our partners. This conference brought together America’s diplomatic and military leaders with a focus on advancing the collective territorial security of the Black Sea Region.” The conference gathered senior Department of State policymakers, U.S. ambassadors to countries in the Black Sea region, and EUCOM leadership to discuss strategies to support to U.S. allies and partners in the region. Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luminita Odobescu and Minister of Defense Angel Tilvar joined the group for an informative briefing and productive discussion.  

US Embassy: The U.S. government has and will continue to expose Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic elections around the world

EXCLUSIVE The United States has become aware of a trend in Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic processes globally, according to the US Embassy in Georgia. Europetime was told in the embassy that the U.S. government has and will continue to expose Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic elections around the world. The United States on Friday released a U.S. intelligence assessment sent to more than 100 countries that found Moscow is using spies, social media and Russian state-run media to erode public faith in the integrity of democratic elections worldwide. The assessment was sent in a State Department cable dated Wednesday to more than 100 U.S. embassies in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa for distribution to their host governments. Europetime was curious as to whether there has been communication over the aforementioned matter with the Georgian side via the embassy. “The United States has become aware of a trend in Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic processes globally. It is well-documented that Russia seeks to influence the outcomes of democratic elections globally in favor of specific candidates and political parties. In response, the U.S. State Department has briefed more than 100 democracies on these Russian efforts and steps we can take in response. We also are speaking openly about these findings. The U.S. government has and will continue to expose Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic elections around the world. We are seeking to increase public awareness of and resilience to these Russian activities. It is critical that we work together, as democracies, to counter these Russian efforts. In our cable to the governments invited to the Summit for Democracy, we notified each country, privately, on whether we assess Russia had sought to degrade public confidence in elections held in their country. We are keeping these briefings confidential, even as we act transparently by sharing our general findings with the public,“ the U.S. Embassy said.  

State Department: Russia is seeking to undermine democracies from within, the IC found that this Russian activity is global in scope

Russia is seeking to undermine democracies from within. The IC found that this Russian activity is global in scope, a State Department spokesperson told Europetime. „We have long known that Russia is seeking to subvert democratic processes around the world, and we are raising awareness that, as part of these efforts, Russia is pursuing operations to degrade public confidence in the integrity of elections themselves. To better understand this threat, the U.S. Intelligence Community undertook a review of Russian operations to undermine public confidence in democratic elections that took place between January 2020 and December 2022. The IC found that this Russian activity is global in scope. Russia is seeking to undermine democracies from within. In response, the U.S. State Department has briefed more than 100 democracies on these Russian efforts and steps we can take in response. We also are speaking openly about these findings. The U.S. government has and will continue to expose Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic elections around the world. We also will continue to work with other democracies to further these efforts. We are seeking to increase public awareness of and resilience to these Russian activities. „We will continue to work with our fellow democracies to advance these actions, including through new policy initiatives – like this multi-part exposure campaign,“ - a State Department spokesperson told Europetime. The United States on Friday released a U.S. intelligence assessment sent to more than 100 countries that found Moscow is using spies, social media and Russian state-run media to erode public faith in the integrity of democratic elections worldwide. The assessment was sent in a State Department cable dated Wednesday to more than 100 U.S. embassies in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa for distribution to their host governments. US Embassy: The U.S. government has and will continue to expose Russia’s efforts to undermine democratic elections around the world  

State Department: It’s important the Georgian government to ensure the Anaklia port project will be transparent and adhere to the rule of law

The State Department answered the questions by Europetime regarding the priorities of the Black Sea strategy. Europetime asked where the Anaklia port project fits within this plan. According to a spokesperson, the United States has been a strong supporter of the Anaklia deep water port for years, as it is projected to be a very important contribution to Georgia's economy and the development of the Trans-Caspian transportation corridor. The State Department has submitted a report to Congress describing its strategy for the Black Sea region „On the Anaklia project, The United States has been a strong supporter of the Anaklia deep water port for years as it is projected to be a very important contribution to Georgia's economy and the development of the Trans Caspian transportation corridor.     It’s important the Georgian government ensure the project will be transparent, adhere to the rule of law, and take into consideration the long-term security and prosperity of Georgia’s citizens. On the Black Sea Strategy: The Black Sea Strategy is a vision for a Black Sea that is secure, prosperous, interconnected, and free from threats to territorial integrity, economic coercion, and malign influence. It encourages agencies across the United States Government to work with partners bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure regional security, boost regional economic cooperation, provide clean and secure energy, strengthen rule of law, promote respect for human rights, combat corruption, and counter disinformation. Through this Strategy, the United States will strengthen our partnerships to promote peace and prosperity for all. The Strategy also outlines our approach to addressing the immediate and long-term repercussions brought upon the region by Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine,“ a State Department spokesperson told Europetime.