The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission’s Working Group on People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges met March 29, 2019 in Tbilisi and coordinated new approaches to a variety of topics critical to the bilateral relationship.
The United States reaffirmed its strong commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The United States supports the Georgian government’s peace initiative “Step To a Better Future” to improve the lives of the residents of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Both sides agreed on the importance of intensifying people-to-people contacts and engagement to support progress toward peace and reconciliation.
The United States welcomed the Georgian government’s commitment to investments and reforms under its new “Education: A Road to Freedom” plan. Georgia and the United States continue to transform Georgia’s education system into a more student-centered, quality-oriented learning model, focused on strengthening critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Both sides agreed upon the importance of: civic education programs; entrepreneurial skills; operations and maintenance of public schools; international accreditation of higher education programs; and vocational education programs strongly linked to market demand. The United States supports the Georgian government’s emphasis on English language education. The two sides agreed on the importance of youth development programs that lead to an educated, healthy, creative, employed, and civic-minded generation, ready to build a prosperous, democratic country.
The Working Group pledged to continue cooperation on strategic communications strategies that maintain public understanding of, and support for, Georgia’s Western choice and defend against aggressive Russian disinformation and propaganda. The United States confirmed its support for Georgian government efforts that aim to ensure all Georgian citizens enjoy the same rights and access to social, economic, and political systems, particularly programs that promote tolerance and civic integration of ethnic and religious minority communities in Georgia.
The two sides agreed that bilateral exchange programs and other people-to-people contacts, such as the Peace Corps program, strengthen the bilateral relationship. The United States reaffirmed its support for programs that complement U.S. assistance to Georgia’s education sector and that contribute to the preservation of Georgian religious and cultural heritage.
Building upon the current achievements of the MCC Georgia Compact II, the Georgian side reiterated that it welcomes the opportunity of working with MCC towards a new program to support Georgia’s economic growth agenda.
The United States applauded Georgia for its achievements in health service delivery as demonstrated by the progress toward elimination of hepatitis C. The United States also lauded Georgia’s active engagement in the Global Health Security Agenda and expressed appreciation for its longstanding partnership with the United States on health security issues.