On February 7, Georgian Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze was hosted at the Library of Congress by Congressman David E. Price (Dem), co-chair of the House Democracy Partnership, and Ted Poe (Rep), co-chair of the Congressional Georgia Caucus.
In his remarks, Congressman Price spoke about America’s friendship and solidarity with Georgia, in which shared values and commitment to democracy played a crucial role. He stressed that Georgia followed this commitment “in a very tough environment, in a neighborhood full of autocratic states, and with a neighbor that has occupied a fourth of the country and is constantly voicing threats and intimidation.”
The congressman said “Georgians of all political stripes have shown admirable resolve, and admirable commitment to freedom, and admirable wish for self-determination.” He added that the United States would stand with Georgia in its ongoing fight for the self-determination, and that he believed the congressmen’s work with the Georgian Parliament was part of this fight.
Congressman Price also stressed that “it is critical in a democracy to have free and fair elections, but it is equally critical what happens between elections.” “Either you have an effective legitimate representative parliament, or you don’t. If you do, then you have a much better chance of serving the needs of all your people, of having all feel represented, and of having a stable and secure and enduring democracy,” said the congressman.
Congressman Poe thanked Georgia for having its troops serve alongside the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and said Georgia and the U.S. shared values and the belief in freedom. He also said Georgia was “in a rough neighborhood,” with the “Russian bear,” led by “the Napoleon of Siberia” Vladimir Putin trying to retake over the former parts of the Soviet Union.
The congressman said Putin chose Georgia first to invade “because Georgia was and still is the strongest democracy in the region,” and because, in Putin’s opinion, “if he can break Georgia, he can break the other former Soviet republics.”
He added that due to these desires of the Russian leader, “it is important that the United States stand strong with Georgia and Ukraine, Moldova as well, to make sure that they stay free and independent countries and they are not some puppet of the Russian imperialist thought.”
Congressman Poe recalled his visit to Georgia soon after the Russian invasion of 2008 and stressed that “it is still the U.S. policy that Russia is illegally occupying Georgian territory, and that policy I do not believe is going to change, because it is true.”
Georgian Ambassador to the U.S. David Bakradze also attended the congressmen’s meeting with Kobakhidze.
During his visit to the United States, Kobakhidze has also met with Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, as well as Senator Roger Wicker (Rep.), and congressmen Gerry Connolly (Dem.), Steve Scalise (Rep.), and Harold Rogers (Rep.). He was also received by the Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Jim Risch, and Representative Peter Roskam.