Friday, January 9, 2009

US-Georgia sign charter before Bush departs

Israel isn't the only country attending to its agenda in the waning days of the Bush administration. Georgia and the United States signed a strategic partnership charter today, reiterating U.S. support for Georgia's territorial integrity and NATO membership aspirations.

“The U.S. supports and will always support Georgia’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice said, according to

The charter is non-binding, but emphasizes US security and economic ties with Georgia. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze stressed the importance of these connections during a teleconference with international press this morning.

The military ties seem to shift U.S. support towards more traditional military aid. Prior U.S. aid had focused a great deal on training Georgian troops to serve as peacekeepers in Iraq, which was not very useful during fighting in South Ossetia in August. The charter pledges U.S. support to helping Georgia increase its self-defense capabilities to NATO standards.

Vashadze did not specify what form the aid would take. In the past, the U.S. has not given Georgia some of its most advanced defensive weapons system, such as Stinger ground-to-air missiles or Javelin anti-tank missiles.

While the charter is non-binding, Vashadze said "military cooperation [will begin] in the very, very near future."

No doubt Georgia's leadership was eager to sign the charter before U.S. Pres. George W. Bush leaves office later this month. Pres.-elect Barack Obama has indicated he is less willing than his successor to send U.S. military aid overseas.

"The charter was agreed upon with the incoming administration," Vashadze said, but he declined to specify which officials from Obama's administration were involved.

No comments: