10TBILISI199, GEORGIA: SENATORS MCCAIN, THUNE AND BARRASSO INVESTIGATE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10TBILISI199 2010-02-17 08:41 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5429
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHSI #0199/01 0480841
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170841Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2874
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000199 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SENATORS MCCAIN, THUNE AND BARRASSO INVESTIGATE 
SECURITY SITUATION IN GEORGIA 
 
TBILISI 00000199  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Thune (R-SD) 
and John Barrasso (R-WY) met January 10-11 in the Black Sea resort 
city of Batumi with President Saakashvili and other members of the 
GoG as well as opposition representatives.  They also traveled to 
Zugdidi near the administrative boundary line with Abkhazia to meet 
with EUMM representatives and a group of IDPs.  During the visit, 
Senator McCain was awarded the honor of National Hero, the first 
time a non-Georgian has received such an honor.  End Summary. 
 
Codel Visits Batumi 
 
2.  (SBU) Senators McCain, Thune, and Barrasso met with President 
Saakashvili on arrival during their visit on January 10-11.  In 
their several meetings, President Saakashvili stressed his concern 
about Georgia's security situation as a result of Russian occupation 
of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  He 
highlighted the tremendous economic progress that Georgia was making 
in building up the Black Sea resort city of Batumi, contrasting it 
favorably with the difficulties that Russia was having in developing 
Sochi prior to the 2014 Olympic Games.  Senator McCain shared 
President Saakashvili's doubts that Russia intended to comply with 
its obligations under the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement.  Senator 
McCain thanked the President for Georgia's decision to send troops 
to Afghanistan and reiterated that Georgia enjoyed bi-partisan 
support on the issue of its territorial integrity. 
 
3.  (SBU)  On January 11, Senator McCain was presented the award of 
National Hero by President Saakashvili for Senator McCain's longtime 
support of Georgia's democratic aspirations.  Following the 
ceremony, the delegation had lunch with President Saakashvili, 
Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria, Deputy Minister of Interior 
Eka Zguladze, National Security Council Secretary Eka 
Tkeshelashvili, and a number of other GoG officials. 
 
Opposition Meeting 
 
4.  (SBU) The delegation met with Giorgi Targamadze (Christian 
Democratic Movement), Levan Gachechiladze (Protect Georgia 
Movement), and David Usupashvili (Republicans/Alliance for Georgia) 
to discuss opposition views of current events.  All three expressed 
their support for Georgia's deployment to Afghanistan, as well as 
their concern about the current security situation and Russian 
intentions towards Georgia in general.  Targamadze and Usupashvili 
questioned President Saakashvili's rhetoric toward Russia and 
whether it has served to raise tensions.  Targamadze and Usupashvili 
highlighted the lack of development of democratic institutions and a 
difficult media environment for the opposition.  All three 
opposition leaders said that upcoming local elections would be a 
significant signal as to how willing the GoG was to hold free 
elections and develop democratic society and institutions. 
 
IDP meeting in Zugdidi 
 
5.  (SBU) A group of 18 IDPs from Sukhumi, Ochamchire and Gali 
districts of Abkhazia met with the delegation in Zugdidi.  The group 
consisted of people from a variety of occupations and included five 
ethnic Abkhaz who came to Zugdidi after the August 2008 conflict. 
Two of the ethnic Abkhaz who took the floor to speak on behalf of 
their families and other Abkhaz who crossed the boundary, expressed 
concern with what they called "the Russian occupation" of Abkhazia. 
They accused Russian forces of imposing Russian citizenship on the 
population, exploiting Abkhaz natural resources, barring 
international humanitarian and human rights organizations and 
election observers from entering Abkhazia. "The Kremlin is trying to 
Qelection observers from entering Abkhazia. "The Kremlin is trying to 
repeat the Mukhajirstvo (practice of expelling Abkhazs into the 
Ottoman Empire during Russia's Caucasus war in 1864), and we are 
appealing to the West to prevent it," said one Abkhaz IDP.  An 
ethnic Georgian IDP stressed that the Russian forces are 
artificially dividing the two peoples, "standing between them like a 
wall." 
 
EUMM briefing 
 
6.  (SBU) The delegation met with EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) head 
Ambassador Hans-joerg Haber and other staff members at the EUMM 
Zugdidi Field Office.  Haber briefed the delegation on the nature of 
its mandate and organization of the Mission, including EUMM's 
achievements and challenges.  EUMM staff members provided the 
delegation with information on security incidents that have occurred 
along the administrative boundary line and ongoing human rights 
issues.  EUMM also gave an assessment of Georgian and Russian 
compliance with te ceasefire agreements, noting its view that the 
Georgians exercise restraint near the boundaries, but Russia remains 
non-compliant with the ceasefire agreements by maintaining troops, 
FSB Border Guard units, and heavy military equipment in both 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
 
7.  (U)  Senator McCain's office did not have an opportunity to 
clear this cable. 
 
TBILISI 00000199  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
 
BASS

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