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Statement of the Georgian Association in the USA, Addressed to the Incoming US Administration

Established in 1932, the Georgian Association in the USA, Inc. is the oldest non-partisan nationwide organization in the USA representing Georgian-Americans and the friends of Georgia.

The Georgian Association welcomes the incoming new administration in the United States and calls on President-elect Trump and Vice-President elect Pence to express their strong support for Georgia, and by doing so, to demonstrate the US government’s continuing support for freedom and democracy around the world. The Georgian Association calls on the incoming administration to take an active position in supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to help strengthen Georgia’s security and to deepen economic and business ties.

A strong Georgia is in the interest of the United States. That is why Georgia has enjoyed strong US support under both Republican and Democratic administrations, which have consistently defended international law and condemned aggressive violations of national sovereignty.

Georgia remains a loyal and fully capable ally of the United States; it has contributed to global security, and has been an active participant in every military campaign conducted by the US since 2003, providing significant and unconditional support.  This has been achieved at the cost of Georgian soldiers’ lives.

– Georgia is a reliable and strategic transit country for the US military, for the global energy markets, and for Asia-Europe trade.

– Georgia is a vital ally to the West in a changing geopolitical environment, which includes an aggressive and revisionist Russia, a disintegrating Europe, and a volatile Turkey within an unstable Middle East.

– Georgia is a regional leader in political, economic and social reforms, a country that has defeated petty corruption, and which continues to build on policies of political and economic reform.

Georgia has achieved all these successes despite the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region (South Ossetia), and continued Russian intimidation.

Georgia is a consistent and reliable ally of the United States.  We strongly believe that the United States should continue supporting a country that has proved its loyalty, both through its participation in NATO and through its steadfast defense of US interests in the region.

Alex Tugushi

Georgia’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

Georgians should be proud of the many contributions and tremendous sacrifices made in Afghanistan as part of the international war on terror.  Georgian troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2004. Georgia became the largest non-NATO and the largest per capita troop contributor to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by late 2012.  At its peak deployment, Georgia provided two full infantry battalions serving with United States forces in Helmand province, primarily a United States Marine Corps (USMC) area.  Since the beginning of their mission, more than 11,000 Georgian soldiers have served in Afghanistan.  In June 2016, Georgia still had 861 troops, the largest non-NATO contributor to the Resolute Support Mission follow-on to ISAF, second only to the United States.

While the Georgian combat mission in Helmand ended in July 2014, Georgia pledged troops to the new NATO-led non-combat, training, advisory, and assistance mission called “Resolute Support” launched in January, 2015.  At various times, Georgia has also deployed an infantry company serving with the French contingent in Kabul, medical personnel within the former Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team and some individual staff officers.

Georgia’s commitment to supporting international forces has come at a price.  Since 2010, 31 Georgian servicemen have died, all in the Helmand campaign, and over 400 wounded, including 35 amputees.  Many of the amputees received medical treatment in the United States, mostly at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD.  Some soldiers with severe burns and traumatic brain injuries were treated at other specialized military medical centers.  The amputees included single, double, and triple loss of limbs.  At WRNMMC, they received excellent care including state-of-the-art prosthetics and rehabilitation.  Some of the wounded warriors had their families residing with them during their stay in Bethesda, and two of the amputee families gave birth to children who will have dual citizenship.

Alex Tugushi

Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, left, thanks LTC Alex Tugushi, a battalion commander with the Georgia forces stationed with the Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and wounded warrior, right, for his attendance and sacrifice during a promotion and appointment ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2012.

During their rehabilitation, some lasting several years, the soldiers were often visited by Georgians living in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as Americans who learned of their sacrifices.  At the recommendation of the Georgian Embassy, the Wounded Warrior Mentor Program (WWMP) started an English as a Second Language program to help the wounded soldiers benefit from their time in the lengthy treatment and healing involved in amputations.  The WWMP, with a dedicated group of volunteers and six Georgian wounded with their relatives who act as Non-Medical Assistants (NMA) and two Georgian medical personnel, met weekly at Bethesda to study English as a second language, and also to socialize, watch sports and share food; Georgian food of course.

One of the most severely wounded was LTC Alex Tugushi, a highly decorated battalion commander of the Georgian forces.  LTC Tugushi, served two eight month tours in Iraq, and two in Afghanistan, the second cut short by his wounds from a roadside bomb. While recuperating at WRNMMC he was visited by many USMC officers and President Barack Obama.  LTC Tugushi has since been promoted to full Colonel and lives in Georgia. By 2015, all the soldiers at WRNMMC had returned to Georgia to regain their lives with family and friends.

United States Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta visited the Georgian 31st Battalion in March 2012.   “I wanted to come here and thank you for your sacrifices,” the secretary said.  The secretary read a letter he said Tugushi had given him for the battalion. Dated March 12, the letter read, in part: “It has been an honor to serve with you. You are Georgian heroes. … The Armed Forces of Georgia, serving together with international forces in Afghanistan, are making a large contribution……”  “It is a great honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with the United States in one of the most troubled regions of Afghanistan,” the letter continued.

“Unfortunately, I could not complete my service with you. But I am proud of all of you — those who have fallen and those who continue to serve. You are all heroes who will go down in Georgian history.”

When the secretary finished reading Tugushi’s letter, he said it expressed his own feelings about the accomplishments of Georgian troops over the past eight years as part of the 50-nation coalition.

“You are an example of that international partnership, fighting for stability in Afghanistan,” Panetta said.

Georgia, a small country that more than lived up to its commitment to the international community has yet to be accorded a Membership Action Plan which would pave the way for Georgia to become a member of NATO.

CEEC

CEEC Reaffirms Need for Strong U.S. Leadership in Europe (August 8, 2016)

The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing more than 20 million Central and Eastern European Americans, strongly backs the United States’ continued unconditional commitment to upholding the NATO Treaty as well as U.S. support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all Central and Eastern European nations. Our organization stands firm in its belief that America’s close cooperation with all NATO allies and partners is fundamental to ensuring U.S. and European security. The CEEC urges both the current and future Administrations to continue developing allied relations with all NATO members and transatlantic partners, and to take such action as deemed necessary to maintain security of the Alliance, including the European Reassurance Initiative.

The renewed aggressive behavior and actions of Russia against Central and Eastern European nations have raised the importance of NATO’s credibility and cohesiveness for regional stability. In February 2016, then-NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove stated at a hearing of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee that “Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners.”  Earlier this year the CEEC sponsored a policy forum on NATO’s stance on Russia on Capitol Hill. A major theme of our discussion characterized Russia’s increasing aggression since 2008 not only in terms of fanning regional conflicts but as a fundamental assault on the post-World War II international order.

At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO stated it was fully prepared to defend the alliance and pledged an increase in military spending, in response to Russia’s unpredictable and aggressive behavior in the region. The CEEC believes the commitment by the United States to NATO countries should be based on collective defense, shared values, and democratic principles, as well as support for regional partners. We have, and continue to support the principle of NATO’s Open Door policy, for all willing and qualified nations.

The Central and Eastern European region is facing a multitude of threats from Russia. It is imperative for NATO members and partners to share collective knowledge in key security areas for combating a multitude of hybrid war forms, including cyber, media and economic manipulation, and destabilization in energy security. The CEEC supports U.S. continued commitment and leadership in addressing these threats.

The security of the United States lies in the peaceful expansion of democracy, not in the appeasement of aggressor states making imperial claims. Proactive U.S. leadership is vital to NATO’s continued effectiveness, to protect peace and security in Europe. The crisis driven by Russia in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Ukraine specifically, will not just go away. In an informationally interconnected and economically interdependent world, the United States must take the lead in promoting international norms and consolidating geopolitical stability.

1612 K Street, NW, Suite 1200 Washington, D.C. 20006
http://CEECoalition.us

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House Foreign Affairs Committee passes 13 measures including H.R. 660, to Support the Territorial Integrity of Georgia

John “Tsotne” Dadiani, a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgian Association represented the Association at the mark-up and reports there was widespread support for the bi-partisan resolution co-sponsored by Representatives Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX).  The committee members recognized that Georgia has pursued a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Russia over the territories of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.  Several of the members compared Russia’s actions which were reminiscent of the old Soviet Union during cold war days, and that Georgia deserves to maintain these territories, and to have free elections this fall.  While the measure was passed by the committee, some representatives expressed concerns that the resolution would antagonize Russia, and that Georgia was responsible for Russia’s actions in the region.  Several members said the US needs to improve relations with Russia.

Earlier in May, the Georgian Association recognized the efforts of the two Congressmen on behalf of Georgia’s territorial integrity by honoring them at its annual Independence day celebration.

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The Georgian Association Congratulates the Georgian Service of the Voice of America on its 65th anniversary

The Georgian Service celebrated its 65thanniversary on May 26, 2016 at VOA headquarters in Washington DC.  Several dignitaries were in attendance including Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, Archil Gegeshidze, the Honorable Kenneth Yalowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, and the Honorable Kurt Volker, Executive Director, the McCain Institute for International Leadership and former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO.  The current U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly delivered a message by video.  Anna Kalandadze, Chief of the Georgian Service moderated the event.  The Georgian Association has been an active supporter of the Georgian Service–indeed several Board members’ fathers worked for the service for many years. And, the first director of the Service, Irakli Orbeliani, was a founding member of the Georgian Association.  Congratulations to the Georgian Service on its over six decades of fulfilling its mission of providing objective and timely news to the people of Georgia.

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Georgian Association Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Regaining of Independence

Georgian Association Officials Lead Discussions on Georgia’s Security at Washington, D.C. Conference, co-hosted by Levan Mikeladze Foundation for the Caucasus Studies

On May 12, 2016, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies (SAIS) co-hosted a conference “Strategic Pillars of Security for Georgia:Trans-Atlantic Integration, Economy and Democracy”. Former President of the May 12 2Georgian Association Mamuka Tsereteli and President of the Levan Mikeladze Foundation of the Caucasus Studies Tina Mikeladze opened the conference on behalf of the organizers. The conference brought together in two panels noted scholars, policy analysts, program implementors and representatives of the U.S. Department of State. The Georgian government was represented by the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Mr. David Bakradze, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Dondua. The Georgian Embassy was represented by both Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze and Deputy Chief of Mission George Khelashvili. The Georgian representatives expressed concern about the “creeping annexation” of their country and their disappointment at the lack of movement towards a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO. For their part, a number of American panelists, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bridget Brink reiterated continued US support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

There was much discussion, particularly during a second panel moderated May 12 3by the GA President Elisso Kvitashvili, on Georgia’s ongoing need to implement internal reforms that some panelists believed would enhance Georgia’s overall security through greater legitimacy of the government. Several panelists decried the lack of job creation, poor social service delivery, and lack of innovation in the business sector as stumbling blocks to Georgia’s economic development. There was agreement that the West needed to devote more attention on Georgia especially in her role as a hub in the developing Silk Road Transport Corridor.

The conference was followed by a reception celebrating Georgia’s upcoming Independence Day.  This year, 2016, Georgia celebrates its 25th anniversary of regaining of independence. This year’s special guest of the reception was the co-chair of the Georgia Caucus in the House of Representatives of the US Congress Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va) who, together with Congressman Ted Poe (R, Texas) is a co-sponsor of a draft congressional resolution supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity. Congressman Connolly received a special award from the President of the Association Elisso Kvitashvili.

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Georgian Association Awards Senator McCain at Annual Reception

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, the Georgian Association honored the United States Senator John McCain’s outstanding contributions to building strong U.S. – Georgia relations. Senator McCain received the award from Mr. Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Association, at the traditional annual reception.

Sen. McCain acknowledged the Georgian people for the remarkable accomplishment of transforming the country into an emerging democracy. In his address the Senator from Arizona told the guests, “Rarely have I seen, anywhere in the world, the kind of determination and resilience that is so clearly present in the hearts of Georgians everywhere. The United States is proud to call Georgia a friend, and I take great pride in considering myself a friend of Georgia.” Senator McCain also stressed the importance of continuing U.S. support for Georgia.

Other speakers and distinguished guests included the United States Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA), Co-chair of the Congressional Georgia Caucus, Mr. Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia, Mr. Frank Greinke, Honorary Consul of Georgian in California, Ambassador William Courtney, and Mses. Elisabeth Kvitashvili and Nino Japaridze, members of the Georgian Association Board.

The Georgian Association in the United States of America (GA) is the oldest nonpartisan nationwide membership organization of Georgian- Americans and friends of Georgia. It strives to strengthen and support the Georgian-American community on a national level, and supports an independent, democratic and prosperous Georgia.

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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

Ron Asmus. He was a native of Milwaukee. Ron Asmus, to go with an obit called ASMUS02

Phone Conference with Dr. Ron Asmus

Washington, DC-Today, Mamuka Tsereteli, President of the Georgian Association and Nino Japaridze, Board Member of the Georgian Association, along with few colleagues from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) spoke via conference phone with Dr. Ron Asmus, foreign policy adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The discussion, which was a follow-up to a meeting with Secretary Madeline Albright and Senator Clinton’s Campaign National Security Director, Lee Feinstein held last week in Washington, DC, touched upon numerous issues of concern to the Georgian Association and the CEEC.

The questions posed to Dr. Asmus touched on issues such as energy security in Europe and the United States, stability in the Baltics and the Caucasus, fostering of U.S. ties with the Central and East European region, as well as the assessment of Russia’s presidential elections.

Dr. Asmus noted the importance of diversifying energy supplies to Europe and the United States and equated the importance of the Blue Stream and Nabucco projects to the significance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Dr. Asmus said “Russia aggressively uses its energy resources as a weapon.” Asmus added that both the United States and the European Union should “tame Gazprom,” and apply competitive open market rules to Russian companies. The Blue Stream and Nabucco projects will act as catalysts in making Russia “play by open market rules.” “The oligarchic structures of Russia’s energy system must undergo liberalization,” Asmus stated. Asmus believes that real U.S.-EU cooperation will help “chip away at the current energy problems.” Asmus stressed Senator Clinton’s view of the importance of more active U.S.-EU collaboration in dealing with these ongoing energy security issues.

Many members of the CEEC expressed their disappointment with the White House’s reaction to the Russian presidential elections. Asmus explained that new policies are needed to deal with Russia. According to Asmus, “Washington’s Russian policy has exhausted itself. Current policy is not working as Russia is becoming more authoritarian. The Bush Administration has not placed enough focus on Russia. As a result, Russia continues to bully neighboring countries and challenge U.S. interests in the Central and East European region. Russia’s violations of Baltic air space is a useful illustration of Russia’s aggressiveness.” Asmus believes the next U.S. president will need to form new policies toward Russia.

Asmus opined that the right policy towards Russia will include progress on Ukraine’s and Georgia’s desire to join NATO. Asmus indicated that a “democratic and secure Ukraine anchored in the West is the best thing for Russia.” He noted that Ukraine’s and Georgia’s membership in NATO should not be threatening to Russia. He believes the United States must assist former Soviet countries in their consolidation of democracy.

Asmus said that strong U.S.-EU ties are needed to secure peace in Europe. Frank Koszorus, President of the American Hungarian Federation, expressed concern about Kosovo’s recent independence and its potentially negative effect on stability in Vojvodina. Russia’s support of Serbia has already caused ethnic tensions between minorities and Slavs. Asmus responded by saying “the U.S. made a mistake by taking its eyes off the Balkans.”

Dr. Asmus emphasized to members of the CEEC that Senator Clinton and her team will continue to keep Central and East Europe and Russia in focus and expressed desire for a continued dialogue with our communities. The CEEC members present thanked Dr. Asmus for his candid discussion today.

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The Georgian Association Organizes First Lady’s Visit To Capital Breast Cancer Center In Washington, DC.

CBCC provides breast cancer screening services and breast health education to women who do not have health insurance or other means to pay for mammograms.

Breast and cervical cancers are the leading causes of death among Georgian women. The First Lady of Georgia dedicates much of her time to the work in health care. She chairs the reproductive Health Council under the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. The Council made it possible to establish the first breast cancer screening center in Tbilisi. At this center, women between the ages of 40-69 who live in Tbilisi receive free mammograms and consultations. The aim of the program is to ensure access for the target population, make the services acceptable and appropriate to the needs of eligible persons, maximize early detection of breast cancer, and therefore, help reduce mortality from breast cancer. Also, First Lady is Founder and Director of SOCO, a charitable organization, which works to improve reproductive health and child welfare in Georgia (www.soco.ge).

CBCC Executive Director Amari Sokoya Pearson-Fields, MPH, and Medical Director Jennifer Eng-Wong, MD, MPH, hosted the meeting. They shared with Roelofs valuable information about breast cancer prevention activities, patient support mechanisms, funding challenges, and creative ways to raise awareness about importance of annual breast screenings. Dr. Levan Jugheli, the Medical Director of the Tbilisi Breast Cancer Screening Center, and wife of the American Ambassador in Georgia accompanied first lady at CBCC. They, also, met with representatives of March of Dimes, the Susan Comen Foundation, and visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during this visit to the United States.

First Lady Roelofs hopes that the Tbilisi Breast Cancer Screening Center can serve as a blueprint for similar facilities in rural areas of Georgia, where the need for cancer screening services for women is urgent.