At the end of his four-day trip to Ukraine and Georgia, the Vice President addressed the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi. The Vice President came with a simple message: the United States supports Georgia as it moves towards becoming a secure, free, democratic, and united country.
The Vice President traveled to Georgia last year as a Senator in the midst of the conflict with Russia. Today, he traveled there under very different circumstances, but again pledged his support for Georgia. He made clear that while the United States works to reset relations with Russia, it will not come at the expense of Georgia:
As I said in Munich in the first days after our administration was sworn in, and as President Obama, I might add, reasserted two weeks ago in Moscow, we stand by the principle that sovereign democracies have the right to make their own decisions, and choose their own partnerships and their own alliances. We stand against the 19th century notion of spheres of influence. It has no place in the 21st century. (Applause.)
We will not – we will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. (Applause.) And we urge – we urge the world not to recognize them as independent states. And we call upon Russia to honor its international commitments…
The U.S. has committed $1 billion in aid to Georgia, and since the conflict last August, the U.S. has provided supplies and shelter to those who were displaced, reconstruction aid, and additional funds to strengthen Georgia’s civil society. The Vice President stated that the U.S. fully supports Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO, and will work with Georgia to meet the standards needed for NATO membership. The Vice President explained the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Georgia:
Let me be clear about what our strategic partnership with Georgia is, and what it is not. The United States has no desire to create our own sphere of influence in this region or anywhere else in the world. Our goal is to help build a multi-partner world in which nations make common cause of common concerns.
These partnerships are not being built against anyone. They are being built to the benefit of everyone who seeks a more democratic, prosperous and secure world. (Applause.)
With Georgia, our partnership involves meeting security challenges – we are grateful, truly grateful that Georgian soldiers will stand next to our brave Marines in Afghanistan. It includes a commitment to energy security, and we welcome Georgia’s role as a bridge for natural resources flowing from east to west, as it did a thousand years ago. (Applause.)
It carries with it – this cooperation agreement – a determination to build stronger bonds not only between our governments, but among our people through cultural exchanges, entrepreneurial collaboration, and civil society cooperation.
Our partnership rests on a foundation of shared democratic ideals. That's what you are about. And we will continue to support your work to fulfill the democratic promise of six years ago.
The Vice President concluded his remarks by encouraging Georgia to continue along the path towards democracy:
Success requires the involvement of everyone in this room, of those who were elected outside this room. It requires every Georgian citizen, regardless of their political affiliation or their ethnicity, to take part in their government.
And I especially today call upon the young people of Georgia, the next generation of Georgian leaders, to continue to contribute their ideas, their voices, and their energy to help create a peaceful, stable, democratic and economically prosperous Georgia. Only then – only then will we see a Georgia that is the home to all its rightful citizens.