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Press Gaggle Following Testimony on Eastern Partnership

Press Availability
Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Following Testimony before the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
November 14, 2013


Question: Mrs. Nuland, Armenia was scheduled to sign the association agreement. Did the United States or European Union miss something during this period [when] Russia gained and turned Armenia towards its side?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: I think you know that our view of this is that it is within the sovereign power of any nation to make its own decisions about how it chooses to associate politically or economically. Armenia made its choice with the Customs Union. We have made clear that we expect, nonetheless, to continue to have strong economic and political relations with the government and people of Armenia, and we’re looking for ways to expand that.

Question: [Inaudible], Azerbaijan is holding out, resisting the pressure and threats by Russia. Is it understood in Washington the pressure that Azerbaijan is facing? And what kind of support do you think the United States can render?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: I think it is certainly understood the strategic position that Azerbaijan sits in. We, as you know, have very deep and strong economic security, political links with Azerbaijan and they are an important player in the neighborhood. We always appreciate the fact that they make sovereign decisions.

Question: Ms. Nuland, are you getting appropriate reactions from the Georgia government as to their treatment of the former officials? Are they reacting and are they working with you to release pressure on the former officials after whom they are going politically?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: I would refer you to the answers that I gave during the hearing. We have made clear that we are watching closely to see that rule of law is applied in Georgia, and that it is an important component not only of our relationship with Georgia, but also the conditions for being able to initial and ultimately sign the association agreement. So I think that message has gotten through.

Question: Can you say that U.S.-Ukrainian bilateral relations are conditioned upon signing or not signing the new agreement? So is it [inaudible] plan how to do with Ukraine after Vilnius? And if Ukraine losing contracts with Russia would the United States be able to counter-balance the situation?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: As I said when I was in Ukraine about ten days ago, if Ukraine makes the difficult choices and finishes the work it has to do to be invited to sign an association agreement with the EU, that will also open new horizons and new frontiers in our bilateral relationship.

I brought a letter from Secretary Kerry when I was in Ukraine to President Yanukovych pledging to kick our bilateral relationship into higher gear if there is a successful outcome in Vilnius, and we look forward very much to doing that.

Question: And if Not?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: If Ukraine is not able to meet the conditions then that will reflect choices that Ukraine is making with regard to justice and other things and will obviously have an impact on the way we look at our relationship.

Question: Do you have the names of high level U.S. officials going to the inauguration of the Georgia President end of this week

Assistant Secretary Nuland: I’ll let the White House announce that when they’re ready.

Thanks very much, guys.

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