WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, issued a joint statement with a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and John Barrasso (R-WY), in response to the breakdown of the April 19th agreement reached earlier this year to address the political crisis in Georgia. Shaheen and Johnson previously led the bipartisan group on a resolution in support of Georgia’s April 19th agreement, which cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June.
“We are very discouraged by recent developments in Georgia, which undermine the reform efforts agreed to in the April 19 agreement. The United States, in partnership with the European Union, worked closely with Georgian political parties to deliver a strong, multiparty agreement that paved the way for critical judicial and electoral reforms. It was disappointing that not all elected parties signed the agreement or implemented the agreement in good faith,” said the Senators.
The Senators continued, “At this pivotal time in Georgia’s democratic development, it was all the more disappointing that Georgian Dream today announced its intention to unilaterally walk away from the April 19 agreement. It is largely incumbent upon the ruling party to set aside political differences and pursue an inclusive, multiparty parliamentary process that benefits all Georgians. As lawmakers in the United States Senate, we call for free and fair elections in October, a continued commitment to strengthening the rule of law, and good-faith implementation of critical electoral and judicial reforms. A failure to advance democracy in Georgia may result in conditioning aid, jeopardize Georgia’s pursuit of EU and NATO membership, and damage the U.S.-Georgia bilateral relationship. Only the Kremlin benefits from such an outcome.”