ROCHESTER, New York — Despite lessening Russian influence, the Republic of Georgia is still in need of aid to maintain its democracy and manage threats. The Georgia Support act calls for the “continued development of democratic values in the Republic of Georgia, including free and fair elections, an independent and accountable judiciary, public sector transparency and accountability, the rule of law and anti-corruption efforts.” This will include supporting the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia.”
The Introduction of H.R. 598
This bill was introduced to the House by Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on January 17, 2019. This bill would eventually pass the House of Representatives on April 27, 2022. Connolly stated that this bill “strengthens the vital U.S.-Georgia partnership, a strategically important relationship in a critical part of the world.” The bill is currently awaiting approval by the Senate.
This act also calls for protection from further Russian intrusion in light of the recent invasion of Ukraine. This includes the condemning of “detentions, kidnapping and other human rights violations” within the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. A prominent example of this is the death of Archil Tatunashvili, a former Georgian soldier.
Tatunashvili’s killing occurred after his February 22, 2018, arrest and subsequent detention in Tskhinvali by Russian forces. This has led the United States Embassy in Georgia to reaffirm its stance that Russian forces should pull out of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Georgia Support Act urges the Russian Federation to fully execute “the European Union-mediated ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008.” The U.S. aims to assist with the development of “international security mechanisms in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.”
The Georgia Support Act requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit a report reviewing the various types of U.S. assistance to Georgia to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate. The report will outline goals for U.S. democracy and governance assistance to Georgia, including goals for Georgia’s eventual integration into Europe.
Additionally, there will be an analysis of the United States’ previous efforts, since 2008, to provide government assistance to the Republic of Georgia. This includes any particular obstacles faced.
Freedom of Press
The report will also assess Georgia’s “freedom of the press and support for independent media.” The assessment must also outline actions to ensure accountability for the July 5, 2021, attack on independent journalists and LGBTQ+ activists by far-right counter-demonstrators in Tbilisi. The report will also assess Georgia’s democratic institutions and will determine electoral and judicial reforms needed to regain public trust.
Obstacles to Investment
The report will analyze challenges to U.S. investment in the Georgian economy. This includes garnering the support of the United States International Development Finance Corporation to “create a better developed and more transparent investment climate.”
Sanctions due to Human Rights Abuses
As a consequence of previous human rights abuses, the U.S. can impose sanctions on individuals responsible for or complicit in such crimes. This includes human rights abuses committed in the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.
This system of sanctions can apply both to occupying Russian forces as well as Georgian citizens. One punishment for these offenses is asset blocking. This includes the blocking and prohibiting of product transactions conducted within the United States. The punishment for such offenses can include inadmissibility to the United States. The inability to enter the United States will be enforced through a couple of separate methods. This includes not being eligible for U.S. visas as well as revocation of current U.S. visas.
The Georgia Support Act provides needed stability to the Republic of Georgia that will enable its democracy to succeed. This progress must continue to achieve a more secure future for the citizens of Georgia.
– Max Cole