A bipartisan delegation from the United States House of Representatives, led by Congressman Peter Roskam (Republican-Illinois) visited Tbilisi on February 24-26 as part of the House Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bipartisan commission that works directly with partner countries around the world to support the development of effective legislatures.
The delegation also included Congressman David Price (Democrat-North Carolina), Congressman Adrian Smith (Republican-Nebraska) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (Democrat-Virginia).
On February 25, the U.S. delegation met with Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and other MPs to discuss legislative challenges and current issues in Georgia.
At a joint press briefing on February 25, the Georgian Parliamentary Chairman emphasized that members of the delegations are actively supporting Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
“The U.S. Congress resolution on Georgia’s territorial integrity in 2016 is associated with the names of these Congressmen,” Kobakhidze said and added that the Congressmen are working actively to “mobilize” the U.S. support to Georgia in education, defense, security, healthcare and other fields.
"We have agreed that the strategic partnership and friendly relations between the two parliaments will further be strengthened,” Kobakhidze also said.
“On behalf of the American delegation we are very pleased to be here,” head of the U.S Congress delegation Peter Roskam said at the press conference on February 25.
“We are here today to communicate a very clear message, and that is a commitment from the United States Congress on a bipartisan basis to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia as a nation,” Roskam stated.
He also added that the Congressmen have “admiration” for Georgia as “a good news story” and for its decisions to move forward “in a very tumultuous area in the world.”
“We recognize that there are pressures from authoritarian regimes right on your border, and the decisions Georgia is making to move forward and maintain democratic principles and continue interest in integrating into western-style democracy is a very significant and powerful thing,” Roskam stated.
He also emphasized that the Congressmen “greatly admire and appreciate” Georgia’s commitment to military operations around the world, particularly in Afghanistan.
“It is not lost on us that Georgia has suffered as a result of joining with Western forces in fighting terror, and yet Georgia steps up time and time again. We are deeply appreciative and acknowledge that,” he said.
David Price highlighted that the House of Representatives “shares” Georgia’s aspirations towards “European and Western integration” on a bipartisan basis.
“Our country has great admiration for this country, for the struggles that you have undergone for many years, for the support you have shown for our military operations – our joint interests in Afghanistan in particular, with 31 Georgian lives lost in that conflict,” he said.
“We will go home renewed in our determination to tell our colleagues and constituents of the progress that’s been made in this part of the world and of our country’s commitment to Georgian integrity, Georgian sovereignty, and Georgian democratic development,” he also added.
Following the meeting with Irakli Kobakhidze, the congressional delegation met with the MPs from the Movement for Liberty – European Georgia, as well as the Parliament’s European Integration, Foreign Relations, Defense and Security, Budget and Finance and Procedural Issues Committees.
As part of their visit, the Congressmen also met with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Defense Minister Levan Izoria, who hosted the U.S. delegation at the Krtsanisi National Training Center.
“We are here … to communicate that we are partners with the people of Georgia in that great undertaking, particularly, in this region of the world with rising voices of authoritarianism that are putting pressure on other regional partners,” Peter Roskam stated at the Training Center.
“This visit today is also to learn more deeply about the nature of the close ties between the Georgian military and the United States military, to also show our respect and commitment for Georgia’s decision to do everything it can within the larger scheme of things as it relates to NATO and so forth, to do everything it can in its own defense,” Roskam added.
The House Democracy Partnership and the Parliament of Georgia have been working together since 2006. This trip marks the Commission’s 7th visit to Georgia.