Democracy in Georgia, on the American mind
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Earlier this month, in a strong showing of bipartisan unity, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 660, conveying America's support for Georgia's territorial integrity, with a vote of 410 to 6.

In light of continued Russian occupation of two Georgian regions, this bill represents a major statement by the United States in support of Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Its passage sent a powerful message about the deep and lasting friendship between Georgia and the United States.

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This comes at an important moment for my country. This year, as Georgia celebrates our 25th anniversary of regaining independence, I am optimistic about what the next 25 years will bring for our people. We are forging a future based on greater integration with the West, and continued backing from our partner nations is critical in this effort.

The passage of H.Res. 660 is one of several actions in recent days by the United States, NATO and the European Union endorsing our vision and affirming that Georgia is on the right track.

On Sept. 7 and 8, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the entire North Atlantic Council visited Georgia a fourth time to discuss Georgia's progress in strengthening democracy, economy, defense and security, and further deepening Georgia's cooperation with NATO and enhancing our resilience capabilities. We just celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of the Georgia-NATO Joint Training and Evaluation Center and are providing a company-size unit to NATO's Rapid Response Force. After the U.S., Georgia is the largest troop contributor to the Afghanistan mission.

The decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO was taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and has been reconfirmed at Warsaw Summit. We possess all the practical tools and are working hard to move forward on the path to eventual membership.



Also, the European Parliament's Justice and Home Affairs Committee recently acted in favor of visa liberalization for Georgian citizens, setting up the last step for Georgia's citizens to be granted expanded access to the European Union.

This follows Georgia entering into an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, further cementing Georgia's position as a true and integrated member of the European family.



In a short period of time, Georgia has transformed itself from a country ravaged by civil war into a dynamic, democratic state. On Oct. 8, we will hold parliamentary elections that will again be truly free and fair elections.

Despite external challenges, including Russia's illegal occupation of nearly 20 percent of our territory since 2008, Georgia's commitment to peace and stability at home and in the region endures.



The Georgian people are the main heroes of this story — making hard sacrifices, adapting to a new world and committing to a constructive path for the future, but our loyal friends in America have also been integral to this journey.

Our government has sought to forge even closer ties between our two nations, especially when it comes to investment and trade.



Since 1997, the U.S. has been the largest cumulative investor in Georgia and has guided our efforts to create a business-friendly climate. Today, we have the ninth-lowest tax burden in the world, according to the World Economic Forum.



We are seeking greater U.S. investment in Georgia as we evolve into a regional trade hub. For example, a U.S. company is leading the effort to build a new $2.5 billion deep-water port on the Black Sea that will further solidify Georgia's position as a hub for trade between Asia and Europe along the revived Silk Road.

Georgia has also become a vital transit and energy corridor. Pipelines linking Caspian oil and gas fields to Europe and Turkey pass through Georgia, as well as new road and rail networks, making Georgia an important logistical hub.

Economic development undoubtedly depends on security. Expanding Georgia's defense capabilities and military-technical cooperation with the U.S. and NATO is crucial in the context of Georgia's security challenges and long-term regional stability.



When I look 25 years into the future, I see a united and prosperous Georgia that is a valuable part of the European and Euro-Atlantic family. I see Georgia working together with the U.S. and regional partners on the security and prosperity of the region and beyond.

While Georgia has made great progress since 1991, continued active engagement from the U.S. and the EU remains indispensable to making our vision for the next 25 years a reality.

Janelidze is Georgia's minister of foreign affairs.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.