US, Georgia, Sign Partnership Charter



The United States and Georgia Friday signed a bilateral charter on strategic partnership aimed at increasing cooperation in defense, trade, energy and other areas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the deal should advance Georgia's bid for membership in NATO and other western structures.

State Department officials stress that the charter is a not a mutual defense treaty, but they say it is a highly-visible sign of American support for the Caucuses state in the aftermath of its conflict with Russia last August.

The agreement provides a road map for cooperation between the two countries across the spectrum of bilateral relations, including U.S. assistance to Georgia's military to help that country qualify for NATO membership.

Russia invaded Georgia in August after the Tbilisi government tried to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force. The conflict left Russian troops in South Ossetia and another breakaway area, Abkhazia, and Moscow later recognized the nominal independence of both.

But at the charter signing ceremony with Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze,  Secretary of State Rice reaffirmed U.S. support for the country's territorial integrity.

"The United States supports, and will always support Georgia's sovereignty and its territorial integrity, as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and its integration into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic," she said. "The pace of Georgia's integration with NATO should depend on the desires of Georgians themselves, and on Georgia's ability to meet NATO standards."

NATO leaders endorsed eventual membership for Georgia and Ukraine at their Bucharest summit last year, but a U.S.-led effort to offer them a formal membership action plan was rebuffed by alliance members concerned about Moscow's reaction.

After the Russia-Georgia conflict, NATO foreign ministers again endorsed membership for the two countries in principle, but through existing structures. In his remarks at the ceremony, Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze said he hopes the charter with the United States will be one such vehicle.

"This is something the Georgian nation has been aspiring to, and this is a stepping-stone which will bring Georgia to Euro-Atlantic structures, to membership within NATO and to return to the family of western and civilized nations," he said. "We're  very proud that we lived to see this day, and we would like to stress that we appreciate what the United States has been doing for us, and understand that this document of our strategic partnership brings not only rights, but also obligations for Georgia to be a responsible ally, to be a democratic open and liberal society."

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Matthew Bryza, the Bush administration's point-man for Caucuses affairs, said the United States will continue working diplomatically against any further recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhzia.

Bryza said only Nicaragua and the Palestinian radical group Hamas had followed Russia's lead in accepting the two area's self-proclaimed independence and said he hoped Moscow itself will eventually realize it made a mistake.

"The perspective is that we have to keep on fighting diplomatically through the Geneva process, more broadly in all of our interactions with Russia to make clear that it's violation of its own policy of supporting Georgia's territorial integrity, was a bad decision," he said.

Bryza suggested that over time, a combination of economic and democratic strides by Georgia, and political outreach to the two breakaway areas, might persuade them to accept the authority of the Tbilisi government.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs