Svaneti

Open Letter from the Central and East European Coalition to the President of the United States

The CEEC expresses concern over the Russian Government’s pressure on its neighbors on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit of the EU to be held in Vilnius on November 27-28, 2013. Below is a transcription of the letter.

Dear Mr. President:

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), a coalition of diaspora groups representing more than twenty million Armenian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Ukrainian Americans, is gravely concerned over Russian government pressure on its neighbors on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union, to be held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on November 27-28, 2013. At stake is the country of Ukraine, which will be afforded an opportunity to sign an Association Agreement (AA) on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU, while it is anticipated that other countries such as Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova are planning to initial the agreement, in anticipation of final approval by next year.

Unfortunately, the Russian Federation sees the process of Euro-integration of these countries as a threat to its national interests. Russian officials are on record expressing their discontent and have threatened economic ramifications should such agreements be reached. As an alternative to the European Union, the Russian government has initiated the Eurasian Customs Union and is trying to persuade countries on its borders to become members. The current membership in the Customs Union includes Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. More recently, it was announced that Armenia would join the Customs Union.

As the date of the Vilnius Summit approaches, pressure continues to mount from the Russian Federation upon those countries vying for European integration. Such pressure has evolved in many forms, in particular: a ban on certain Moldovan and Ukrainian imports into the Russian market; the borderization and creeping annexation of the territories of Georgia occupied by Russian military forces since 2008, among other actions. Russia recently concluded a very aggressive Zapad-13 military exercise in the Kaliningrad region, continuing a pattern of war games simulating threats to NATO members in the region, in this case Poland and the Baltic states. The Russian Federation is advancing its tactics on other states, particularly on Ukraine, a strategic partner of the United States and a keystone to stability and security in Europe.

While the United States is not a member of the European Union, U.S. diplomatic efforts to reinforce democratic processes and defend our national interests cannot be underestimated. In December 2012, Secretary Clinton mentioned, in her final speech as Secretary of State, the imminent threat of Russia’s undue influence in the region. “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” she stated. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Several European leaders and officials within the European Commission have also expressed their concern over these recent developments.

Mr. President, efforts by the United States should help to relieve the strain being placed on Russia’s western-oriented neighbors. To do so, we propose several policy recommendations that would strengthen democratic institutions in the region:

1) Issue a White House statement emphasizing the importance of U.S. strategic interests in Central and Eastern Europe and independent nations making their own future decisions;
2) Utilize diplomatic channels by the U.S. government to raise concerns about the encroachment of Russian territorial interests in the region, especially with respect to Georgia;
3) Strengthen our resolve with nations within NATO who have been threatened by Russia — e.g., Estonia with cyber intrusions — and thus may experience similar Russian manipulation after the Eastern Partnership Summit in November; and, 4) Meet with CEEC members at the White House to show a public sign of support for the region.
We hope that you agree on the importance of these issues and will take steps to underscore U.S. support for the countries wishing to align themselves with the EU. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss these issues.

View a copy of the actual letter here.

Svaneti 2

The Georgian Association expresses concern over Georgia-related statement in H.R. 1960: NDAA

On June 14, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1960 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a statement in Section 1244 related to Georgia. The section expresses general support to Georgia, and then heavily focuses on internal political developments in Georgia. Part (b) (3) of the statement reads: “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 statement ends with condolences to the Georgian people for the death in Afghanistan of ten Georgian soldiers, serving in ISAF operations, as a result of two separate bombings.

The Georgian Association expresses deep concern over this statement in the NDAA. Attaching this language to the NDAA is damaging to the US-Georgia strategic partnership, which is built upon trust, respect and institutional integrity. The timing of this statement against the backdrop of the significant losses of Georgian troops in Afghanistan is particularly insensitive.

The United States Congress should express its position towards internal developments in Georgia, using appropriate committees in both chambers of Congress, as well as the bipartisan Helsinki Committee. This particular position, however, should be based on a thorough investigation of the realities on the ground.

Linking Georgia’s internal politics to the issue of US-Georgian strategic and military cooperation only strengthens Russian hegemony in the region, while simultaneously undermining US influence. We encourage members of the US Congress to use strong language on enhancing defense cooperation with Georgia previously included in the draft NDAA bill, adopted by House Armed Service Committee on June 7 in a 59-2 vote.

The Georgian Association in the United States calls on its members to contact members of Congress to advocate for a bill that serves both the US-Georgia partnership and the interests of the United States in a geopolitically important region.

The Board of Directors Georgian Association in the USA

The Georgian Association in the USA completed an Advocacy Day in Washington DC

On June 4th, 2013 the Georgian Association in the USA organized an Advocacy Day for Georgia. The all-day event began with a meeting at the Department of State and was followed by eight meetings on Capitol Hill. The Georgian community was represented by GA president Mamuka Tsereteli, executive director Nino Aduashvili, David Soumbadze (MD), Veronika Metonidze (VA), Vasil Jaiani (DC), Alexander Meladze (NY), Bakur Bejaneishvili (MD), Vlad Bregvadze (VA), and Noel Brockett (MD)

The Advocacy Day participants raised issues of pressing priority for Georgia and the Georgian community in the United States. Among the topics discussed were Georgia’s security and its future integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. The meetings called for the following actions: strong advocacy for Georgia’s NATO membership and support for granting a Membership Action Plan to Georgia in 2014, strengthening Georgia’s defensive capabilities, stronger US leadership on development of the Energy and Transportation Corridor connecting Central Asia and the South Caucasus to Europe and the Mediterranean, the increase of economic assistance to Georgia and support for civil society and democratic development programs.

The participants met with Justine Friedman, director of Caucasian Affairs at the Department of State, Representative Bridenstine and his foreign policy adviser and senior staff members for Representative Van Hollen, Senator Shaheen, Representative Thornberry, Senator Warner, Representative Sires, Senator Kaine and Representative Guthrie.

At the end of the day the participants attended the celebration of the 95th anniversary of Georgian Independence organized by the Embassy of Georgia.

The Georgian Association is planning to organize a follow-up Advocacy Day in the early Fall. We thank all our participants for their service and support and encourage your active participation in the future events.

Please visit our Facebook page for more photos from the event.

The Georgian Association in the USA is organizing an Advocacy Day in Washington DC on June 4th, 2013

In celebration of the 95th anniversary of Georgian independence, the Georgian Association in the USA is organizing an Advocacy Day in Washington DC on June 4th, 2013.

During the day-long event, the participants in the Advocacy Day will meet with members of the US administration, members of congress, as well as staffers of the key committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The meetings will address the critical policy issues related to the US interests in the Caucasus, such as the territorial integrity and national security of Georgia, and the acceleration of Georgia’s integration into Transatlantic security and economic institutions. The Georgian Association will supply the participants with briefing materials.

At the end of the Advocacy Day the participants will have an opportunity to attend the Independence Day Reception hosted by the Embassy of Georgia.

We encourage your active participation in this important event. The voice of Georgian Americans is important for keeping the US Foreign policy focused on Georgia and Georgia-related issues. Please, confirm your participation by no later than May 15. Unfortunately, the Georgian Association will not be able to cover the costs related to your travel and accommodation. Please, invite and communicate this information to those who may be interested.

Sincerely, Mamuka Tsereteli, President
Nino Aduashvili, Executive Director

The Georgian Association in the United States of America celebrated its 80th anniversary

The celebration took place at St. Regis Washington D.C. and brought together many distinguished guests. Among them were the association Board members and officers, the Georgian soldiers wounded in Afghanistan, the former American ambassadors to Georgia, Richard Miles and John Bass, friends of Georgia representing different ethnic communities, representatives of diplomatic community. The anniversary reception, which was co-hosted by the America-Georgia Business Council, followed the 15th annual conference of the Business Council held earlier that day. The attendees of the Business Council conference, including the Georgian Minister of agriculture Mr.Kirvalidze also participated in the event. The guest honor of the anniversary celebration was United States Senator of Indiana, Richard Lugar. The Georgian Association presented Senator Lugar with an award for his unwavering support of Georgia. Nino Japaridze, the board member and former president of the association, opened the formal part of the reception with a speech of thanksgiving. Mamuka Tsereteli, the president of the association, then presented the Senator with a painting by a Georgian-American artist Nana Bagdavadze. Dr. Tsereteli thanked Senator Lugar and emphasized the symbolic nature of the painting.

Painting represents Cross, symbolizing faith and spiritual past of Georgia. Cross is painted with the DNA spirals, that symbolizes common nature and origin of all human beings, and DNA spirals are constructed with molecules that have shape of grapes, that is symbol of both spirituality, but also optimism and abundance. Nothing can have better representation of our gratitude for Senator Lugar for his service to his country, and for his support to free and democratic Georgia” Said Mr. Tsereteli. Senator Lugar responded with a speech of appreciation. Before leaving, he personally thanked the wounded Georgian soldiers for their service.The guests enjoyed the rest of the celebration and the many great Georgian wines provided by the Georgian Wine House of the Greater Washington.

Teach and Learn with Georgia

 

  • Want to make a difference? The country of Georgia is recruiting native English speakers to help teach English through the project.

    The program is offering benefits:

  • Housing and living accommodations
  • Medical insurance
  • Round-trip tickets for work related trips and one vacation

    Volunteer teachers will stay in Georgia for at least one year with once in a life-time opportunity to help the Georgian children learn English language and thus influence their lives; get familiarized with amazing Georgian customs and traditions by living in the local families; experience unique Georgian folklore and cuisine by socializing with local communities and if willing, learn the Georgian language, one of the ancient languages of the world.

    For more information, please visit: www.tlg.gov.ge or www.mes.gov.ge

    Contact: info@tlg.gov.ge, phone: + 995 32 318959, + 995 58 177574

 

Spirit and Whimsy: The Art of Niko Chocheli

We want to announce to the Georgian community in the U.S. and friends of Georgia that the largest retrospective show to date of Niko Chocheli’s art and illustrations is on exhibit at the Antiochian Heritage Museum in Ligonier, PA now through February 20, 2011.

“Spirit and Whimsy: The Art of Niko Chocheli” gathers works from private collections in addition to over 70 original pieces never before exhibited. This historic exhibit chronicles his unique work illustrating 7 Orthodox Christian Children’s books in the United States and Greece. Niko’s love for our homeland shines through each of his work, and it communicates the spirit and beauty of Georgia with its rich Orthodox Christian Heritage to many who may not have known its significance.

The official opening of this show was blessed by His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic United States.

The museum is located at the Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center in Ligonier, PA. Those interested in overnight lodging may contact Antiochian Village at 724-238-3677.

Here is the link for the Antiochian Village website page announcing Niko’s show, with praise from Publisher’s Weekly, a short bio, and contact information with hours and directions: http://antiochianvillage.org/center/heritage/museum.html

If you have any questions please email or call Niko at 267-981-2973.