09TBILISI1359, GEORGIA: VP BIDEN’S VISIT/SPEECH PLEASES EVERYBODY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1359 2009-07-24 14:10 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5780
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #1359/01 2051410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241410Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1960
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001359 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OVIP PREF PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: VP BIDEN'S VISIT/SPEECH PLEASES EVERYBODY 
- ALMOST 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary/Comment.  The Vice President's two-day 
trip to Tbilisi received extensive coverage by the Georgian 
press and elicited an overwhelmingly positive response from 
ruling party and opposition politicians, the media, and 
Georgian political analysts alike.  VP Biden's speech at the 
Georgian Parliament and meeting with young people from the 
IDP community at the Youth Palace received the most attention 
and were broadcast live and replayed during the day.  Many 
welcomed the Vice President's "historic" address to 
Parliament and interpreted his frank statements relating to 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgian territorial integrity, 
and NATO membership as a firm stand against Russia's 
perceived nefarious intentions in the region.  The high hopes 
and expectations harbored by many Georgians before the visit 
were met, and in many cases exceeded.   End Summary/Comment. 
 
VP VISIT HUGE SUCCESS 
 
2.  (SBU)  VP Biden's July 23 speeches at the Parliament and 
Youth Palace dominate Georgian headlines, while his 
discussion with civil society and opposition leaders on July 
23 and his remarks at a banquet at the Presidential Palace on 
July 22 also received significant press coverage.  The Vice 
President set the tone for the visit at the President's 
Palace the first night, where he expressed his intent to send 
an "unequivocal, clear, simple message to all who will listen 
and some who don't want to listen, that America stands with 
you and will continue to stand" with Georgia.  Saakashvili 
called the visit historic and awarded the Vice President the 
St. George's Victory Order, Georgia's most prestigious award 
for foreigners, for his continued support of Georgia.  In a 
meeting with ruling party MPs a day after the visit, 
Saakashvili said that it's clear that "Georgia has won 
serious diplomatic victories and that Russia is not a local, 
but a global problem, and that Georgia is not alone." 
Saakashvili noted that the short-term outcome of the visit is 
that Putin's plan to fully occupy Georgia has been foiled. 
 
PERSONAL CONNETIONS AT IDP MEETING 
 
3.  (SBU)  The Vice President's conversations with IDP 
children at the Youth Palace on July 23 evoked a particularly 
emotional response in Tbilisi.  After listening to several 
tragic stories from the children, VP Biden shared his own 
personal tragedy of losing his wife and young daughter in a 
car crash in 1972.  The Vice President was hailed for the 
compassion and sincerity he expressed, which deeply resonated 
with his Georgian audience.  After the meeting, Saakashvili 
rhetorically told "Russianites" (those who are pro-Russian in 
their foreign policy orientation), "You have seen Biden's 
meeting with IDP children.  Which Russian official could have 
spoken like that?  Who could have demonstrated such humanity 
and such ability to share you concerns?" 
 
PARLIAMENT SPEECH EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS 
 
4.  (SBU)  While most Georgians anticipated a reaffirmation 
of U.S. support for Georgia, the Vice President's 
straightforward address to the Georgian Parliament on July 23 
overwhelmingly exceeded their expectations.  Georgian 
political analysts characterized VP Biden's speech as 
confirmation of U.S. support for Georgia's independence and 
territorial integrity.  Analysts Kakha Gogolashvili and Zurab 
Abashidze noted that the Vice President voiced several key 
messages to Russia, the most important being that the United 
States rejects the notion of spheres of influence. 
 
5.  (SBU)  Government officials were particularly pleased 
Q5.  (SBU)  Government officials were particularly pleased 
with the speech.  Saakashvili called the address "truly 
historic and very inspirational.  I was moved frankly." 
Speaker of Parliament David Bakradze, who introduced the Vice 
President, remarked, "(w)hat we have heard today has exceeded 
all our expectations.  The speech was extremely sincere, 
emotional, and none of the topics were avoided.  The main 
signal of the speech was that Georgia will never become 
hostage of any other policies.  Of course behind closed doors 
there was discussion of the concrete components of the 
declared position, such as security and defense capability, 
de-occupation, economic cooperation, and democratic reforms. 
It was clear that Biden has taken Georgia's problems very 
close to his heart."  Georgian Ambassador to the United 
States Batu Kutelia stated that, "(t)his has been an 
unprecedented address in Georgia's recent history, as very 
clear support has been stated."  Deputy Foreign Minister Nino 
Kalandadze commented, "I did not expect that he would state 
the position of full support so clearly."  Minister of 
Culture Nik Rurua joined Saakashvili in assessing the address 
as "historic", while Education Minister Nika Gvaramia noted 
that "Biden pointed out that Georgia set an example to the 
 
TBILISI 00001359  002 OF 002 
 
 
civilized world."  Vice Prime Mi
nister and State Minister for 
European Integration Giorgi Baramidze said, "(t)he key 
message was just what we had expected to hear, that the 
United States will never abandon Georgia in hard times...and 
that the sovereignty and territorial integrity are in the 
interests of the U.S. government."  Tbilisi Mayor Gigi 
Ugulava described the visit as a signal for investors that 
Georgia is a stable country. 
 
PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION ALSO IMPRESSED 
 
6.  (SBU)  Opposition MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of 
Christian-Democratic Movement and the parliamentary minority, 
attended the dinner at the Presidential Palace, and speech at 
Parliament, as well Biden's meeting with civil society and 
opposition leaders.  He remarked, "(a)fter meeting with Vice 
President Biden I understood what kind of people America's 
founding fathers were" and called Biden "one of the most 
far-sighted and wise politicians we have ever seen." 
Targamadze stated that "the U.S. is not personalizing its 
politics and supports development of democratic institutions. 
 The U.S. thinks that Georgia is the leader in terms of 
developing democracy in the region.  Therefore, our 
responsibility in front of the people, the future, and the 
region has doubled."  MP Gia Chakhvadze (National-Democratic 
Party) stated, "It is clear that we have foreign policy 
support.  Now the thing is to build democracy at home."   MP 
Gia Tortladze (Unified Opposition) commented, "It is clear 
that the U.S. is the closest partner to us." 
 
NON-PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION SATISFIED 
 
7.  (SBU)  Non-parliamentary opposition leaders Irakli 
Alasania (Our Georgia-Free Democrats), Nino Burjanadze 
(Democratic Movement-United Georgia), and Levan Gachechiladze 
assessed their meeting with VP Biden and civil society 
representatives as important, frank, and satisfactory. 
Alasania noted, "(w)e had an open discussion of Georgia's 
internal political situation and security.  We gave him 
detailed information on the current situation and received a 
promise that the democratic reforms in Georgia will be the 
defining factor in Georgian-U.S. relations.  The future 
bilateral strategic cooperation will be based on Georgia's 
progress in democratic reforms."  Burjanadze stated, "I am 
really very satisfied... We had a very sincere and open 
meeting.  There were no recommendations, which truly 
underlines the fact that the U.S. is a democratic country and 
is our friend.  There were assessments. The Vice President 
stated clearly that elections and decisions like that are the 
internal matters of the Georgian people.  The U.S. is not 
going to interfere in Georgia's internal affairs.  It was 
stated clearly that it is the Georgian people and the 
Georgian state which have the support of the U.S. and not 
concrete individuals."  Gachechiladze reported, "(w)e had an 
exchange of opinions and two issues were stated: first, it is 
the matter of Georgian people who will be their president and 
when elections will be held. Second, if Georgia does not take 
steps toward freedom, human rights, and democracy, there will 
be no U.S. assistance."  All three opposition leaders 
declined invitations to attend Biden's speech at Parliament. 
Burjanadze and Gachechiladze commented that their absence was 
a sign of unity with fellow non-parliamentary opposition 
leaders who were not invited. 
 
SOME WILL NEVER BE HAPPY 
 
8.  (SBU)  Sergey Shamba, Abkhaz de facto foreign minister, 
commented that "(w)e can exist without U.S. recognition very 
Qcommented that "(w)e can exist without U.S. recognition very 
well.  As a politician I know that there are words, and there 
are deeds.  Americans can speak about Georgia's territorial 
integrity as much as they like, but they will not fight for 
Georgians and we will continue defending our country.  VP 
Biden's visit was only to please the Georgian government." 
TEFFT

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