Don’t follow path of Ukraine: Hillary to Georgia
Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Georgia not to follow the path of Ukraine into an era of political witch-hunt.
The message was conveyed to visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze by Hillary herself when the two met at the State Department here.
"A key message that we are giving the new Georgian government, including today, is do not follow the course of Ukraine. Do not become Ukraine," said a senior State Department official on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, in a joint media appearance with her Georgian counterpart, Hillary hoped that transparency would be maintained in all such cases.
"We are very much supportive of the peaceful transition to power that occurred as a result of this election by the new government, and we do hope that everything that is done with respect to prosecuting any potential wrongdoers is done transparently in accord with due process and the rule of law as is befitting of the Georgia dream and the aspirations and sensitivities of the Georgian people," Hillary told reporters ahead of the meeting.
The tough American posture comes in the wake of arrest of more than 10 former senior officials, including a former interior minister and Army's acting chief-of-staff, on charges of abuse of power, illegal confinement or illegally obtaining personal information.
Panjikidze said Georgia is proud of its relationship with the US. "I'm sure we can discuss the issues of our cooperation with the United States. We are very proud that the United States are our strategic partner," he said.
"We will talk about the domestic and foreign challenges Georgia is facing today and I hope you will understand our issues and we will count on your help and support in the future," Panjikidze said.
Later, during her appearance at a Washington-based think-tank -- Brookings Institute – Hillary welcomed Georgia’s elections and the first peaceful transition in that country’s history. "We continue to call on Georgia's new government to demonstrate its commitment to democracy, transparency, due process, and the rule of law," she said.
After the meeting, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that Hillary asked that the democratic institutions be preserved, "particularly rule of law and transparency, that there not be even the appearance of any political motivation in prosecutions, et cetera."
"They obviously talked about those issues. The Foreign Minister underscored very strongly her government's commitment to democratic principles, including rule of law," Nuland said.
"I think the Secretary was very clear in her public statements that this is something that the international community is watching and that undergirds our support for Georgia, that the democratic values that we share, and rule of law being key among them, are vital to our support for Georgia," Nuland said in response to a question.