The strength of U.S.-Georgia relations is affirmed in the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, signed on January 9, 2009. The first meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission, held on June 22, 2009, launched four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter: democracy, defense and security, economic, trade and energy issues, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
Senior-level American and Georgian policy-makers lead yearly meetings of each working group to review commitments, update activities, and establish future objectives. Since the signing of the Charter, the United States and Georgia have strengthened their mutual cooperation based on U.S. support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and its commitment to further democratic reform.
Recognizing Georgia’s achievements to date, the Democracy Working Group focuses on further strengthening democratic institutions; political pluralism and electoral processes; media freedom, rule of law, and judicial independence; transparent, accountable, and participatory governance; labor rights; and increased civic participation. Recent and planned U.S.-funded programs have supported reform in all of these areas, and the Democracy Working Group strives to institutionalize past accomplishments while seeking new areas for reform.
The United States and Georgia have worked together to support economic and market reforms, improve business climates, and increase investment opportunities. Economic Working group objectives include the implementation of new unified tax and customs codes, promotion of trade and investment opportunities, support for economic freedom, reduction in corruption, and the creation of new energy and transport diversification projects.
The United States supports Georgia’s efforts in diversifying energy supply routes for Europe and welcomes the ongoing and future multilateral projects such as AGRI and Southern Gas Corridor.
Furthermore, Georgia completed its first five-year $395.3 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in April 2011, which was focused on rural infrastructure rehabilitation and enterprise development. MCC’s Board selected Georgia as eligible to develop a second compact in January 2011, and since then, MCC and Georgia have been working towards second compact signature. For more information, please visit the Georgia section of MCC’s web site, www.mcc.gov.
Based on core principles of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, the Security Working Group seeks to enhance security cooperation, promote Georgia’s efforts in defense reform, and improve Georgia’s defense capabilities, including NATO interoperability and contributions to ISAF operations in Afghanistan. The United States supports Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, including aspirations for membership in NATO as reflected in the Alliance’s decisions in Bucharest, Strasburg-Kehl, and Lisbon. The United States also supports Georgia’s efforts related to its “Annual National Program” as agreed by the NATO-Georgia Commission.
The United States and Georgia have increased cultural opportunities for Georgian citizens and society through the People-to-People Working Group. Together, we have dramatically increased the number of Georgian exchange students, while expanding the number of American English-language teachers in Georgia. Overall, nearly 3,000 Georgian citizens have participated in U.S.-funded exchange programs. These efforts are central to Georgia’s future development and economic prosperity.
The Georgian Government has contributed to the process by the significant progress it made in education system reform, launching an ambitious Teach and Learn with Georgia project aimed at increasing the number of English speaking Georgians, and fostering cultural exchanges.
In addition, the United States supports the objectives of Georgia’s State Strategy on Occupied Territories, a strategy and action plan that seeks to promote interaction among the divided populations of Georgia, and is prepared to undertake activities that reinforce those important objectives.