Me and Obama


President of United States Barack Obama joined a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili in the White House on 24 February.

The meeting was important and, consequently, mass media extensively covered this success of the young prime minister. Irakli Garibashvili declared that the meeting with the US President was unprecedented in the history of Georgia – Obama had never met any Georgian politician in such well-disposed and friendly way.

"Obama told me that he offers 24-hour friendship. He told me that I can call him at any time and he is prepared to provide advice and assistance," said the prime minister.

In response to a question as to why Obama did not meet with him in the Oval Office, the prime minister, in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster, declared: "You know, in the Oval Office the meeting would have taken place between only me and Obama, which would have turned it into an overly official, dry and formal meeting, whereas Obama wanted it to be a cozy and friendly affair.

oreover, neither [Foreign Minister] Maia Panjikidze nor [State Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi] 'Buka' Petriashvili would have been able to attend. It was an unprecedented and very good meeting. Those photos that the population has seen are proof of that. In one of the photos Obama and I are shaking hands; the second and third show what a busy discussion we had during the meeting; another one features the president laughing, which is an indication of his extremely, and quite unprecedentedly, positive attitude towards Georgia and its government."

Indeed, during the interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster, one of those photos, featuring the busy discussion, could be seen hanging on the wall behind Prime Minister Garibashvili. This indicates that he has met the US President, he treats this seriously and is keen to show the result.

Georgia's Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, for her part, confirmed the cozy environment of the meeting between Obama and Garibashvili: "The president and prime minister discussed the possibilities of strengthening the US-Georgia strategic relationship, including the increase of trade and investment relations between the economies of the two countries. After that, they engaged in a friendly talk and at the end of the meeting the president, being in good mood, even promised that, on his next visit, he would introduce the prime minister to his family members, including the father of his wife Michelle Obama. The photos of the meeting also clearly show the serious and positive attitude that was felt from the US administration."

Expert Ramaz Sakvarelidze also expressed his opinion: "I agree with the prime minister that this was indeed an unprecedented and very, very good meeting; at the same time, it is a victory when the US president gives out his phone number and says he is ready to talk to Irakli Garibashvili around the clock to provide advice. Of course, this does not mean bothering Mr. Obama with frequent calls, but it is possible to call him and ask his opinion in difficult moments. If we take the nine-hour time difference with Washington into account, when it is the middle of the business day here, it is nighttime there, which creates certain obstacles for contact between the two heads of state at a needed time."

In the assessment of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Relations Tedo Japaridze, the exchange of phone numbers between Garibashvili and Obama is proof that the course of our government has been accurately and well calculated. To a question as to whether a specific result had been achieved at this meeting, Tedo Japaridze responded: "If a person cannot see the result from the photo session of this meeting, he/she either doesn't have an observant eye or does not want to see anything."


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