US Congress considers critical amendment to cooperation document with Georgia

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Photo: Bill Koplitz / FEMA Photo Library

The US Congress may revise the document on defense cooperation with Georgia. The text of revision, Statement of Congress on Defense Cooperation with Georgia, has already been considered in relevant committees.

Expressing serious concern about persecution of political opponents by the Georgian government, the US Congress clearly indicates that the measures taken against opponents appear politically motivated: "the measures taken by the Georgian Government against former officials and political opponents, apparently in part motivated by political considerations, may have a significant negative impact on cooperation between the United States and Georgia, including efforts to build a stronger relationship in political, economic, and security matters, as well as progress on integrating Georgia into international organizations."

The text of revision notes the arrest of the Secretary General of the United National Movement, Vano Merabishvili, saying that "the arrest of the leader of an opposition party is especially troubling, particularly its chilling effect on political freedom prior to the presidential election scheduled for October 2013."

It also notes "insufficient action" taken by the Georgian government "to prevent further violence against members of the United National Movement and to punish offenders," thereby calling into question Georgia's progress towards the creation of a free and democratic society in which fundamental freedoms, including freedom for political opposition, must be guaranteed.

The US Congress says the United States' stance must be clear-cut when "democratic backsliding occurs in a key ally."

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