OPINION: American Leadership Is Key To Eurasian Stability
The commonly held view amid the clinking champagne glasses and buzzing iPhones this year in Davos was that the U.S. is continuing its steady retreat from the world’s global stage. The refrain echoed by some attendees and foreign policy experts starkly contrasts with my country’s experience.
Georgia sits at the intersection of Europe and Asia as an economic gateway connecting the East to West and at a geopolitical crossroads. Georgia is one of America’s only allies that can connect to eight landlocked countries and serve as a hub to facilitate America’s vital security and economic interests across Eurasia and the Middle East.
Over the past two years, our nation has received nothing but security, economic growth and trade support from the U.S. government. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has committed millions of dollars to increase bilateral economic and commercial ties, and Congress has adopted acts providing Georgia with practical tools to counter Russian aggression. Most recently, the U.S. is leading a global coalition, which includes Georgia, to champion freedom and democracy in Venezuela.
In a region with its share of geopolitical challenges, these acts of strong American leadership have bolstered our nation’s development and fostered greater cooperation between our two countries.
Additionally, scores of administration officials have welcomed me and my Georgian colleagues to Washington, opening their doors and hearts. Reciprocating, Georgia has hosted Vice President Pence, National Security Advisor John Bolton and bipartisan congressional delegations. In their visits, both the Vice President and the National Security Advisor forcefully condemned Russia’s illegal occupation of Georgian territory and Russia’s continued acts of aggression against Georgia.
Georgia owes a remarkable debt to the U.S. that extends beyond the current administration. There have been many U.S. champions of Georgia over the past 25 plus years. With able assistance from the U.S., Georgia has strengthened its democratic institutions, enhanced its security capabilities and fostered an economic environment that continues to flourish and grow. In the last two years, these gains have only multiplied. Today, our relationship under President Trump’s leadership is at an all-time high.
Georgia’s economic success is a direct result of closer relations between our two countries, and we are bullish about the prospects of further increasing trade cooperation. In recent years, Georgia embraced free-market, pro-Western policies that produced economic growth of up to 5 percent. Foreign investment in Georgia was a record-high 12 percent of GDP in 2017. The World Bank now ranks Georgia six out of 190 countries for “ease of doing business.”
We have implemented a series of American styled reforms that have transformed our country into a regional role model that has yielded a vibrant political life, rule of law, open governance, media pluralism and a favorable investment environment. We have instituted a set of constitutional reforms that have strengthened our parliament and conducted numerous free and fair elections.
Georgia recognizes that the U.S. must balance its domestic concerns with its foreign obligations, of which there are many. Yet, following the U.S. model, we also understand that while our American friends walk with us we must take steps on our own.
Georgia serves as an example of a small but responsible partner, punching above its weight. We pay our dues, and more. We volunteered our soldiers to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with American and NATO compatriots in Iraq and Afghanistan. No nonsense and no “caveats.” When your friends fight for you, you fight for them. Period.
Since 2008, Russia has occupied 20 percent of our country. We will never give up our lands. We will remain strong and vigilant, but at the same time, we look to find ways to reduce tensions. There is no alternative to peace. We work every day to show our citizens in the occupied territories that they will live better lives when reunited with Georgia.
Our experience demonstrates that stability, security, democratic transformation and steady economic development can be achieved in a region where unresolved conflicts persist.
The U.S. has a long history of exceptional service to the world order. In times of uncertainty, American leadership has always produced great results, bringing peace, stability and a hope for better future at home and around the world. Forecasts of an economic slowdown coupled with the rapid rise disruptive technologies have upended long-held political perspectives and shaken their respective constituencies. While this reordering will continue, America’s strong global leadership remains constant. For that, we can all be grateful.
Mamuka Bakhtadze has served as prime minister of Georgia since 2018.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.