Photo credit: State Dept./FPC/Sherry L Brukbacher

Photo credit: State Dept./FPC/Sherry L Brukbacher

The United States announced on Monday that it has invited Georgia, along with other countries, to attend partnership events at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, despite Tbilisi's recent passing of the Krelininspired 'foreign agents' bill, TURAN's Washington correspondent

"Georgia and all partners will be invited to participate in the partnership events," Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien told TURAN's correspondent during a briefing organized by the State Department's Washington Foreign Press Center. NATO maintains relations with more than 40 non-member countries and international organisations.

O’Brien said the Georgian people want EU and NATO integration. At the same time, he made it clear that the U.S. remains 'very troubled' by "the decisions and the rhetoric coming from the very small number of leaders of the Georgian Dream."  

Washington wants Tbilisi officials to understand that the path they are on and the rhetoric they are using about the West is "incompatible with what 80 percent of Georgia’s citizens say that they want," as O’Brien put it.

"And we want the voters of Georgia to understand that, and we want the politicians making a decision to be clear that, if they continue this path, they are jeopardizing what they told us last year they very much wanted, which was closer integration and a path toward the EU, and closer cooperation with NATO," he said.

Among the actions that are deemed to be incompatible with wanting to join the U.S. and EU-based international organizations, O’Brien mentioned the "foreign agent" law, the violence against opposition figures, civil society, and the apparent decision to award a new port to a Chinese company.

"We’re trying to be as clear as we can that there is a way to step back from the path that they have chosen," he insisted.

Ambassador John Bass, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, also echoed the similar sentiment during a separate media call organized on Monday by the Department's  Brussels Media Hub.

"It is both deeply disturbing and saddening to see the aspirations and dreams of an entire society being held hostage to the grievances of one individual: Bidzina Ivanishvili," Bass told reporters.

He went on to explain: "if someone were to ask straight up, as I think is implicit in the question, when will Georgia become a member of NATO, the answer is that Georgia will become a member, I think, when Allies assess that it is prepared to fulfill the obligations that come with membership, including upholding principles – core principles of democratic governance, including the fundamental principle that people are free to choose their own leaders.  And unfortunately, since I was ambassador in Georgia, we have not seen Georgia progress to meeting those objectives."  

O’Brien, in response to TURAN's questions, compared Georgia’s potential integration to the current Euro 2024 football championship.  “Georgia has decided it wants to come and play in our football league,” he said. “Georgia, in its sovereign right, has decided to join the club and we’re making clear what that means.”

This year marks Georgia’s first time qualifying for the Euro 2024 championship since it gained independence in 1991.

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