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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI417 2009-03-04 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi


DE RUEHSI #0417/01 0631429
O 041429Z MAR 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000417 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2019 
1.  (C)  Georgian FM Grigol Vashadze is looking forward to 
his first opportunity to meet with you on the margins of the 
NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) meeting in Brussels on March 5. 
 Your meeting with him, no matter how brief, will be an 
important signal of U.S. support at a time when some leaders 
in Tbilisi are fearful that our efforts to improve relations 
with Russia will have to come at the expense of the 
U.S.-Georgia relationship.  The NGC and your meeting with FM 
Vashadze are opportunities to recognize the restraint and 
flexibility Georgia has shown in recent weeks and months in 
regards to the territories and to urge the Government to 
maintain a measured path and commitment to democratic reforms 
as we work to re-balance our relationship with Russia. 
Vashadze is a moderate voice among President Saakashvili's 
key advisors.  We expect that Vashadze will ask you for 
continued strong support for Georgia's NATO aspirations, 
offer Georgian support for U.S. and Allied efforts in 
Afghanistan, and propose the establishment of a framework to 
implement the U.S.-Georgia Charter signed in January.  This 
meeting will help reassure Vashadze that a lack of headlines 
for Georgia does not translate into a lack of support in 
Washington for Georgia's territorial integrity, long-term 
development and security. 
Vashadze - Professional Diplomat with a Plan 
2.  (C)  Foreign Minister Vashadze plays an increasingly 
important role in Georgia's government.  He was appointed 
Foreign Minister in December 2008; prior to his appointment 
he served briefly as the Minister of Culture and as a Deputy 
Minister of Foreign Affairs.  He is a professional diplomat 
who began his career in the Soviet Foreign Ministry and 
received his undergraduate degree from the Moscow State 
Institute of International Relations in 1981.  He speaks 
English fluently.  In our view, Vashadze is the right person 
at the right time to represent Georgia's interests -- he has 
consistently served as a voice of moderation when others 
close to President Saakashvili have urged hasty action.  He 
has proven extremely capable in thinking strategically about 
Georgia's relations with Russia, and during the August 
conflict was the Georgian Government's main conduit with 
Russia, primarily through direct contact with Deputy FM 
Karasin.  At 50 years of age, Vashadze is significantly older 
and more experienced than his ministerial colleagues.  He is 
known in Tbilisi as a cultured and respected figure, a 
reputation enhanced by his marriage to Tbilisi's prima 
ballerina Nino Ananiashvili.  Vashadze, although 
unquestionably a Georgian patriot, has both Russian and 
Georgian citizenship. 
NATO Georgia Commission 
3.  (C)  As the Foreign Minster will likely point out during 
the NATO-Georgia Commission, Georgia continues to take the 
steps the Allies have urged them to take: consolidating its 
control over the territory it currently controls, making 
progress on democratic reforms and keeping tensions around 
the conflict areas to a minimum.  The Georgians are also hard 
at work on a new Annual National Plan (ANP) for NATO that 
they see as crucial to Georgia's membership hopes, and 
includes democratic and military reforms encouraged by NATO. 
NGC is an important sign of our ongoing commitment to 
Georgia's membership, and, in their view, represents 
Georgia's only opportunity to provide long-term security to 
Russia's seemingly limitless appetite to control Georgia 
QRussia's seemingly limitless appetite to control Georgia 
4.  (C)  In a meeting on March 1, Vashadze indicated that he 
hopes to raise four issues with you, as time permits: 
-- He will urge the United States to remain actively engaged 
on NATO membership issues.  Recent rumors in the NATO 
international staff and among some Allies have suggested that 
Georgia's commitment to the NATO membership process has waned 
since the August conflict.  In fact, Georgia is working 
fastidiously to meet the challenges necessary for membership. 
 Vashadze will look to you to signal that the U.S. commitment 
to support Georgia's membership has not changed. 
--  He will offer to allow the U.S. to build or use existing 
bases or ports on Georgian territory to support our efforts 
in Afghanistan and to help compensate for the loss of Manas. 
Georgia's government welcomes any enhanced U.S. military 
presence on Georgian soil, although it does recognize how 
neuralgic this is for Moscow.  This offer follows on 
Georgia's announcement that it plans to send a company of 
troops to support a French deployment to Afghanistan. 
--  He will ask about lines of communication to Afghanistan 
via Georgia.  Georgia is willing to facilitate supply lines 
to support our efforts in Afghanistan. 
--  He will urge you to support a framework for implementing 
the United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership 
and will likely ask that the Administration commit to leading 
such a commission at the most senior levl possible.  The 
agreement was signed in January 2009 and committed our 
governments to a
 broad range of cooperation.  The framework 
for implementing this agreement remains under consideration 
and the Georgian side hopes that we will head this commission 
at the Secretary-level or above. 
The Political Backdrop to Your Brussels Meeting 
5.  (C)  Since the August conflict, tensions along the de 
facto boundaries with the separatist regions of Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia have remained high.  Eleven Georgian Ministry 
of Internal Affairs police officers have been killed and many 
others wounded since the conflict by sniper fire, IEDs and 
other attacks.  For the most part, as advised by the U.S. and 
the Europeans, the Georgians have not used force to respond 
to these attacks.  International monitors still do not have 
access to South Ossetia and the UN's movements within 
Abkhazia are limited.  The Georgians signed an MOU with the 
European Union's Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in which they 
voluntarily and unilaterally limited their military presence 
near the territories and provided full transparency on all 
military movements.  To date, the Russians/Abkhaz/South 
Ossetians have not responded in-kind.  In an Orwellian 
attempt at deflection, the Russians have accused Georgia of 
increasing tensions by building up forces near the 
territories, but all three international monitoring 
organizations -- EUMM, OSCE and UN -- have found that the 
reverse is true: the Georgians are keeping forces away from 
the territories, while the Russians, Abkhaz and South 
Ossetians maintain a significant presence near the 
administrative boundaries. 
6. (C) The prospects for international mediation efforts, as 
well as continued monitoring on both sides of the 
administrative boundary lines, are fading.  Although the 
February round of Geneva talks produced a modest success, a 
proposal for a dispute resolution mechanism, the Abkhaz and 
South Ossetians are now backing away from the idea.  The 
Russians meanwhile suggested a late date -- June -- for the 
next round, which would be too late to discuss new OSCE and 
UN mandates, both of which expire in June. 
7.  (C)  The fallout from the August war remains a dominant 
political issue in Georgia, however economic challenges have 
increasingly become a significant concern to the public. 
Although many of those dislodged by the war have returned to 
their homes, those displaced from South Ossetia itself and 
part of Abkhazia have been largely unable to return. 
Saakashvili remains the primary figure in Georgian politics, 
but his wartime decisions have drawn significant criticism 
from various opposition leaders.  Vocal, opposition parties 
and leaders remain fractured but may coalesce around plans 
for street protests in April.  The opposition leaders do not 
currently represent a credible alternative to Georgia's 
leadership.  The Saakashvili government appears to be 
relatively stable, however, a worsening economy could erode 
public support. 
8.  (C)  As a result of Russia's invasion, President 
Saakashvili has re-committed his administration to a new wave 
of democratic reform and we are strongly encouraging him in 
this effort.  The new Prime Minister, Nika Gilauri has 
Qthis effort.  The new Prime Minister, Nika Gilauri has 
responsibility for the overall direction of the economy as 
well as the implementation of the $4.5 billion in pledges 
from the international community to support Georgia following 
the conflict.  These pledges include $1 billion from the 
United States; thus far, $757.5 million has been allocated 
and the remaining $242.5 million must still be authorized and 
allocated by the Congress. 


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