The U.S. Department of State hosted working group meetings of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission December 9 – 13. All the working groups congratulated Georgia on its well-administered presidential election and initialing an Association Agreement with the European Union that includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which represent significant signs of Georgia's progress towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
The Defense and Security Working Group, held December 9, expressed continuing U.S. support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and joint non-recognition efforts. Both sides highlighted Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and the United States restated its continued support for Georgia’s membership in NATO. Both parties underscored Georgia’s contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, where Georgia remains the largest non-NATO contributor, serves without national caveats in Helmand Province, and stands ready to contribute to the Alliance’s post-2014 mission in Afghanistan. The United States thanked the Georgian people for the significant contributions Georgia has made in Afghanistan and honored the sacrifices of the families of the fallen and the wounded. Both sides underscored the progress made in fulfilling President Obama's pledge to enhance cooperation in new areas focused on NATO interoperability and self-defense capabilities. The United States recognized the important progress achieved in Georgia’s defense reform process and expressed its continued support for Georgia’s reform efforts.
The December 12 People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Working Group voiced support for Georgia’s efforts to reach out to the people of its occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions and U.S. and international efforts to support people-to-people engagement in the occupied territories. The United States rejected borderization activity along the Administrative Boundary Lines of Georgia’s occupied territories as inconsistent with Russia’s international commitments. The Government of Georgia welcomed USAID’s selection of Georgia as one of twenty worldwide focus countries for the Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnership (STIP) program. The group also discussed ways to promote greater cooperation in the areas of educational and cultural exchanges, English language education, science, public health research collaboration, and consular issues.
On December 13, the Economic, Energy, and Trade Working Group noted discussions on next steps to advance the USTR-led High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment, following President Obama’s pledge to strengthen trade and investment between our two countries, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. The Economic Working Group also discussed Georgia’s growing economic role in the region and bilateral cooperation in agriculture, intellectual property rights, public-private sector engagement, energy security and supply diversification, and infrastructure development. The participants discussed Georgia’s efforts to become a regional business, trade, and logistics hub through continued improvements to its transportation infrastructure, and both parties stressed the importance of removing regulatory bottlenecks to trade through the region.
The Strategic Partnership Commission will remain the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritizing the broad and deepening cooperation between the United States and Georgia. The Commission includes four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter on Strategic Partnership: democracy; defense and security; economic, trade, and energy; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. For more information, please visit: http://www.state.gov/p/eur/ci/gg/usgeorgiacommission/index.htm.