Georgian leaders hail ‘historic’ bipartisan US support bill

Georgia’s president, Salome Zurabishvili, the country’s prime minister Giorgi Gakharia and foreign minister Davit Zalkaliani have all welcomed a bill passed by the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the United States Congress, supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, the Georgian press has reported.

Introduced by Gerald Connolly and Adam Kinzinger, the Democratic and Republican co-chairs of the US House Georgia Caucus and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 30 lawmakers, the bill declares US support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as well as “the right of the people of Georgia to freely determine their future and make independent and sovereign choices on foreign and security policy, including regarding their country’s relationship with other nations and international organisations, without interference, intimidation, or coercion by other countries.”

The legislation commits the US “to support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Georgia” and condemns the “ongoing detentions, kidnappings, and other human rights violations committed in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia forcibly occupied by the Russian Federation.”

The bill also calls on the United States to support the continuing development of Georgia’s democratic values, including free and fair elections, has reported.

“[The Georgia Support Act] represents the first standalone legislation related to Georgia dedicated to taking our partnership to the next level. The US is our closest strategic ally,” the Georgian PM said in a tweet.

Reacting to the decision of the US House, Mrs Zurabishvili said that the passing of the bill “was a historic reminder” of how close bilateral relations between the countries are.

Mr Zalkaliani also thanked the US House, calling the standalone bill “unprecedented.”

The bill still needs to be approved by the US Senate and signed by President Donald Trump.