09TBILISI925, GEORGIA: CODEL DAVIS DISCUSSES BILATERAL TIES WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI925 2009-05-18 04:57 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6480
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0925/01 1380457
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180457Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1580
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000925 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
H FOR CODEL DAVIS, DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: CODEL DAVIS DISCUSSES BILATERAL TIES WITH 
PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER, AND PARLIAMENTARIANS 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  During a May 8-9 visit to Tbilisi, CODEL Davis 
met with President Saakashvili, Minister of Defense Vasil 
Sikharulidze, women leaders in the GOG and Parliament, and the 
Speaker of the Parliament (reported septel).  Sikharulidze covered 
Georgia's ongoing defense reforms and the recent attempted mutiny at 
an army tank base.  During dinner, the CODEL discussed healthcare 
issues and women's leadership in the GOG.  Saaakashvili focused on 
the Russian challenges facing Georgia and the region, as well as his 
plans to respond to ongoing opposition protests by strengthening 
institutions over personalities.  End summary. 
 
MINISTER OF DEFENSE 
 
2. (SBU) During meetings with CODEL Davis, Minister of Defense 
Sikharulidze and Deputy Minister Giorgi Muchaidze discussed the 
current security and humanitarian situation in Georgia and the 
occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the recent 
mutiny at Mukhrovani military base, bilateral defense cooperation, 
and the implementation of reforms in the defense sphere. 
 
3. (SBU) The Minister stated that the Russians continue to violate 
the 6-point agreement and undermine the Geneva process.  He 
described the status of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia as "deplorable."  The Minister said the May 5 mutiny at 
Mukhrovani Military Base was a serious, but isolated incident.  The 
Ambassador praised the Government of Georgia for not casting wild 
accusations of involvement at the Russians, but rather taking the 
time to properly investigate the incident before assigning blame. 
 
 
4. (SBU) The CODEL thanked the Minister for volunteering troops for 
Afghanistan, where the Georgians will be supporting a French 
contingent.  The Minister noted that the Turks had also recently 
approached him requesting troops to support one of their 
contingents.  The Minister ended the meeting with a discussion of 
the implementation of reforms in the defense sphere.  He said 
training and education are his top reform priorities and key for the 
future of the armed forces.  The Minister is also seeking to improve 
personnel and financial management systems.  Improving the housing 
situation of soldiers and their families was also raised. 
 
WOMEN LEADERS IN GOVERNMENT 
 
5. (SBU) The CODEL hosted dinner for female representatives from 
Georgian ministries and Parliament.  Those attending  included 
Rusudan Kervalishvili, Deputy Chairperson of Parliament; Khatuna 
Gogorishvili, Chairperson on Procedural Issues and Rules Committee; 
Magdalina Anikashvili, Deputy Chair Healthcare and Social Issues 
Committee; Chiora Taktakishvili, Deputy Chair Legal Issues 
Committee; Tina Burjaliani, First Deputy Minister of Justice; and 
Helen Khoshtaria, Deputy State Minister for Euro-Atlantic 
Integration.  The discussion focused on Georgia's new healthcare 
initiatives to make care affordable for all members of sciety, 
women's education and wellness, and how to increase the number of 
women in various key-decision making roles in government. 
Kervalishvili expressed her deep appreciation for continued U.S. 
assistance and support in the face of on-going challenges. 
 
PRESIDENT HOSTS EARLY MORNING EVENT 
 
6. (SBU) President Saakashvili hosted an early breakfast May 9 after 
arriving from Prague where he had participted in the EU's Eastern 
Partnership Summit.  Chief of Staff Natalia Kancheli and National 
Security Advisor Eka Tkeshelashvili attended.  Saakashvili said he 
had never seen the Europeans so understanding of the Russian threat 
-- not just to Georgia's existence, but to the broader region.  He 
Q-- not just to Georgia's existence, but to the broader region.  He 
said Russia is pushing to monopolize Central Asian energy and 
reassert control over the Caucasus.  While Russian occupation of 
Georgian territory is bad enough, he said their control of 
two-thirds of Georgia's coastline is especially serious. 
Saakashvili noted Russia's internal problems, and thought that these 
problems might make it difficult over the long term for Russia to 
maintain its control over Georgia's separatist regions.  However, he 
added that 80 percent of the ethnic Georgians from these regions 
have been forced from their homes. 
 
7. (SBU) On a positive note, the President proudly noted his fight 
against corruption - one that has largely rooted out corruption in 
state institutions.  He said people now trust these institutions 
more than any individual politician, including himself.  He believes 
that by allowing the opposition protests in Tbilisi to continue, 
people will respect governmental bodies even more and move the 
country away from a cult of personality.  He believes that the 
non-parliamentary opposition is losing support and hopes that some 
of the less radical leaders will engage in a constructive dialogue 
on reform. &#x000A
; 
 
TBILISI 00000925  002 OF 002 
 
 
8. (SBU) Saakashvili and the CODEL discussed strengthening and 
implementing the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership.  He 
welcomed Senator Kerry's and Representative Dreier's resolution 
calling for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Georgia.  He said an 
FTA with Europe is also key to restoring Georgia's economic growth. 
 
 
9. (SBU) The group talked about regional challenges, including 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey.  Representative Davis thanked the 
President for his offer to contribute Georgian troops to ISAF. 
Saakashvili offered the CODEL the use of any Georgian infrastructure 
to support ISAF.  He then ended the conversation on its beginning 
note, noting again that Russia remains a key challenge to not just 
Georgia's autonomy, but that of Central Asia and Europe as well. 
 
TEFFT

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