Policy Brief on Capitol Hill – “NATO’s Stance on Russia – Vision or Reaction?”

On April 19, 2016, the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) comprised of a number of diaspora organizations including the Georgian Association in the USA, hosted a Policy Brief on Capitol Hill entitled “NATO’s Stance on Russia – Vision or Reaction?”.  Speakers included Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter, Former Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, Senior Staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Damian Murphy and, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of the Lithuanian Embassy in the US Mindaugas Zichkus. The meeting was opened by Marju Rink-Abel of the Estonian-American National Council and moderated by Mamuka Tsereteli, Georgian Association in the USA.

Key points raised by the speakers included:

  • NATO is not a threat to any country, it is a defensive security organization;
  • NATO members should push back on Russia to counter misinformation and propaganda about NATO’s intentions; NATO honors all agreements that it has with Russia;
  • The “Open Door Policy” should remain intact and qualified members should be invited to join;
  • European members of NATO need to increase their defense budgets to reach their NATO membership obligations;
  • NATO needs to support an international brigade committed to the defense of Poland and Baltic states;
  • NATO should focus more effort to ensure Russia honors Minsk agreements.
  • NATO should remain firm and resist Russian attempts to re-design the current security architecture in Europe that would position Russia to limit sovereignty of other countries in choosing their military or economic alliances and partnerships.

Discussions were followed by a reception, with brief comments provided by the Ambassadors of Ukraine and Montenegro, the Georgian DCM and, a representative of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Mr. Michael Sawkiw.


A new Senate Resolution (S.Res.391)

A new Senate Resolution (S.Res.391) on the Latest News page under the title “The United States Senate Calls on the President of the United States to Engage in an Open Discussion with the Leaders of the Republic of Georgia”.
Calling on the President of the United States to engage in an open discussion with the leaders of the Republic of Georgia to express support for the planned presidential elections and… (Agreed to by Senate)
SRES 391 ATS
110th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. RES. 391
Calling on the President of the United States to engage in an open discussion with the leaders of the Republic of Georgia to express support for the planned presidential elections and the expectation that such elections will be held in a manner consistent with democratic principles.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
December 6, 2007
Mr. LUGAR (for himself, Mr. BIDEN, and Mr. DODD) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
December 13, 2007
Committee discharged; considered and agreed to
RESOLUTION
Calling on the President of the United States to engage in an open discussion with the leaders of the Republic of Georgia to express support for the planned presidential elections and the expectation that such elections will be held in a manner consistent with democratic principles. Whereas the Republic of Georgia, which is an emerging democracy strategically located between Turkey and Russia, is an important political and geopolitical ally of the United States;Whereas Georgia has made significant economic progress since 2000, with an economic growth rate that now exceeds 9 percent on an annual basis, and was named the top economic reformer in the world by the World Bank in 2006; Whereas the Government of Georgia has been a leader in addressing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program; Whereas the Government of Georgia is working to become a candidate for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union;Whereas the United States Government strongly supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and works actively toward a peaceful settlement of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts that might lead those regions toward greater autonomy within a unified Georgia; Whereas the popular uprising in Georgia in 2003, the Rose Revolution, led to the establishment of democracy in that country;Whereas opposition parties in Georgia engaged in demonstrations lasting several days beginning on November 2, 2007; Whereas the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, declared a state of emergency on November 7, 2007, after which the country’s main opposition television station, Imedi, was closed; Whereas Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza visited Georgia on November 10-11, 2007, and urged the Government of Georgia to reopen its private television stations, stating on Georgian state television: `A cornerstone of democracy is that all TV stations should remain open.’;Whereas President Saakashvili ended emergency rule on November 17, 2007, and announced presidential elections to be held on January 5, 2008; Whereas the Government of Georgia has announced the reopening of the major opposition television station, Imedi; Whereas the Government of Georgia has invited international election monitors to oversee the elections and thereby contribute to greater international recognition of the Georgian political process; and Whereas freedom of the press, freedom of political expression, and a fair and impartial judiciary are among the most fundamental tenets of democracy:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved,
That it is the sense of the Senate that–
(1) the President should publicly state strong support for free
and fair elections to be held in Georgia on January 5, 2008, in accordance with democratic principles; and
(2) the Government of Georgia, in order to restore faith in the democratic evolution of the country–
(A) must conduct free and fair elections, without government interference; and

Policy Discussions with Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright

Washington, DC-On Wednesday, February 27, 2008, the Georgian Association in the USA along with its colleagues from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing more than 22 million Americans, discussed a range of policy issues with presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton’s advisor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Also present at the meeting was Lee Feinstein, Senator Clinton’s Campaign National Security Director. The Georgian Association was represented by Mamuka Tsereteli (President), Maka Gabelia (Executive Director), Zacharia Kiknadze (Member) and Nino Japaridze (Board Member). One hour long discussion was moderated by Nino Japaridze.

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The meeting focused on key areas of concern for the Georgian Association, including Russia’s actions against Georgia and Ukraine and other Central and East European countries, energy security and diversification, and NATO enlargement. Secretary Albright fondly remembered her collaboration with General John Shalikashvili as she recalled her work on NATO enlargement. “NATO enlargement, the removal of the divide between East and West Europe, opened up a new chapter in the history of Europe. John and I stood side-by-side during this momentous time,” Albright noted.

Secretary Albright speaking on behalf of Senator Clinton reaffirmed Senator’s support for NATO’s “open door” policy. She welcomed Ukraine’s and Georgia’s aspirations for full NATO membership. Secretary Albright made it clear that the Membership Action Plan (MAP) criteria constitute a roadmap for full NATO membership, and MAP will be the measure determining the timeline of the actual membership in NATO for Ukraine and Georgia.

Albright expressed confidence that Senator Clinton would continue to advance issues of concern to the Georgian Association and the CEEC and she urged the group to remain engaged on the issues in Washington DC.

For more information contact:
Contact: Nino Japaridze
Tel: (301) 263-0808


Senate Passes NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007

The U.S. Senate approved S.494, U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar’s bill that endorses further enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by voice vote last night. The “NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007” would facilitate the timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine to NATO.

The House passed a similar version of the bill on March 6; a technical difference must be resolved between the bills before it can become law.

“The goal of this bill is to reaffirm United States support for continued enlargement of NATO to democracies that are able and willing to meet the responsibilities of membership. In particular, the legislation calls for the timely admission of Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine to NATO and authorizes security assistance for these countries in Fiscal Year 2008. Each of these countries has clearly stated its desire to join NATO and is working hard to meet the specified requirements for membership,” Lugar said.

“I believe that eventual NATO membership for these five countries would be a success for Europe, NATO, and the United States by continuing to extend the zone of peace and security. Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia have been making progress on reforms through their participation in the NATO Membership Action Plan since 2002. Unfortunately, Georgia and Ukraine have not yet been granted a Membership Action Plan but nevertheless have made remarkable progress. This legislation will provide important incentives and assistance to the countries to continue the implementation of democratic, defense, and economic reforms.

“Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been evolving to meet the new security needs of the 21st century. In this era, the threats to NATO members are transnational and far from its geographic borders. There is strong support among members for NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, and for its training mission in Iraq. NATO’s viability as an effective defense and security alliance depends on flexible, creative leadership, as well as the willingness of members to improve capabilities and address common threats,” Lugar said.