Georgia held its 2020 parliamentary elections on October 31, but political processes have continued in the country despite opposition protests. November 3 was a crucial day in the U.S. It is expected that today it will be clear who will become the president of Georgia's strategic partner country. Statements about "stolen elections" are made both in Georgia and in the United States.
The current President of the United States, Donald Trump, was chastised by OSCE representatives for claiming that "fraud had occurred during the voting process." Trump supporters encouraged by this rhetoric may see violence as a legitimate weapon," said the head of the OSCE International Election Observation Mission in the US presidential election. Based on the latest data, Joe Biden's staff is confident of victory.
We asked former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Matthew Bryza, about the foreign policy visions of both presidential candidates [Trump and Biden]. Matthew Bryza also spoke with Europatime about Georgia's domestic political processes and American investment.
Matthew Bryza: President Trump has never been a big fan of NATO. He is not a fan of working with allies. He has chosen a highly combative policy towards Iran, China, and North Korea. He is not really focused on a strategic approach to the South Caucasus region.
As for Joe Biden, he is a strategic thinker. He has a different approach—he is well aware of Russia's aggressive aspirations in the South Caucasus and the Black Sea region. He was appointed by President Obama to lead the Ukraine issue after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
He is a deep believer in the importance of NATO and considers it extremely important to solve problems together with the Allies. I think, unlike Trump, Biden will not choose the path of confrontation—I think he will not be friendly with North Korea, but he will not be confrontational.
_How would you assess the parliamentary elections held in Georgia and the decision of the opposition to refuse to enter Parliament?
I read the statement of the U.S. Embassy and the OSCE/ODIHR assessments that Georgia’s parliamentary elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected, although there were some shortcomings that need to be addressed. The opposition has chosen such a form of protest. This is understandable, but I think it is better if political leaders fight for the interests of the electorate in parliament. It is not good that the opposition chooses the path of the boycott.
-It is important for Georgia to develop ports and attract more American investment. What is your opinion on the Anaklia Deepwater Port project? It is also known that the American company Trammo is building a terminal for mineral fertilizers in the port of Batumi. According to the project, a logistics corridor will be established in the Black Sea port from Central Asia via Azerbaijan and Georgia. What is the significance of this project for Georgia and what should the government do to attract more direct investment from the United States?
In my opinion, it is an important project. In any case, in order to attract more American investment, the Georgian government needs to further improve the investment climate. Unfortunately, the cancellation of the Anaklia project was extremely negatively perceived in Washington. It is important that the government of Georgia clearly states that its goal is to strengthen the investment environment and respect legal agreements between commercial entities and companies. Georgia has very good relations with the United States. It is a NATO aspirant country, and in the United States, many people want Georgia to be a member of NATO. Georgia should be a member of NATO; the country has fulfilled all the criteria. As for focusing on the investment environment, I am confident that the Georgian government can do that.
-As you stated in one of your interviews, it would be a pity if Georgia did not participate in the regional digital hub project. I mean a project on which the Azerbaijani company Aztelecom is working. One of the key components of this project is the fiber-optic cables of the Caucasus Online. What are your expectations for the future of this project as well as the Anaklia project?
I do not know what will happen in the future. As for the digital hub project in general, if an efficient, fast, fiber-optic network goes directly to Tbilisi, large digital centers may be placed in Tbilisi. As a result, the fact that this project did not proceed is a major failure. This was also perceived negatively both in the U.S. and Brussels. But I hope the Georgian government will find ways to implement this project.