Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Georgia’s efforts to combat corruption and reaffirmed U.S. support for the country’s territorial integrity, calling for Russian troops to withdraw from areas it has occupied since the 2008 conflict between the two countries.
Speaking witn Gergian Prime Minister Nikoloz Gilauri iat the State Department, Clinton said Georgia’s democracy has “made great strides over the last seven years,” and that parliamentary and presidential elections in the country, scheduled for 2012 and 2013, respectively, “should showcase a Georgian democracy that not only meets but exceeds international standards.”
She also said Georgia’s progress against corruption “is already serving as a role model for many other countries seeking to replicate the success that Georgia has had.”
Clinton said free elections, sound governing institutions and a vibrant civil society are prerequisites for any government’s long-term stability. While the country’s May municipal elections “represented real, tangible progress,” she said Georgia must still work to address outstanding issues of political competition, fundraising and accountability from the vote, including “a thorough investigation of any alleged irregularities in May’s elections.”
She urged Georgia’s parliament to recognize the opportunity presented by the country’s ongoing constitutional reform process, which she said “represents the opportunity for Georgians to build on everything you have accomplished since the  Rose Revolution.” She said the United States stands ready to assist Georgia in that process “however we can.”
Clinton said the United States “will not waver in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Russia has had military forces in Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia since the 2008 conflict.
“We continue to call on Russia to end its occupation of Georgian territory, withdraw its forces, and abide by its other commitments under the 2008 cease-fire agreements,” she said.
“Georgia has taken a constructive approach in our common efforts to address this challenge through the talks in Geneva. We support the objectives of Georgia’s State Strategy on Occupied Territories, and we are prepared to undertake activities that reinforce these important objectives,” Clinton said.
“We care about Georgia’s security and Georgia’s democracy. We support the Georgian people in your aspirations to build a better future,” she said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)