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Price of NATO accession2012-03-23 17:09
One of the candidates for U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland stated the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections must become a "litmus test on the way to NATO" for current Georgian government. Norland, in his speech, has expressed his confidence that further promotion of key U.S. interests in Georgia was directly connected to further democratic reforms in the country.
At the meeting of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, Senator Ben Cardin asked the diplomat to comment statements of the Georgian opposition that allegedly they had been denied the opportunity to participate in elections based on the conditions of fair competition. Norland replied that he was aware of reports of harassment of opposition candidates, the actions of the Control Chamber and the law on financing political parties, which are of concern not only for the citizens of Georgia, but also for the international community, the IA Regnum reported.
Future U.S. ambassador recalled that the U.S. diplomatic mission has been raising these issues in public statements and in private meetings with representatives of the Georgian government. He assured that in case of approval of his candidacy for the post of ambassador in Georgia he would closely monitor compliance the principles shared in the United States. "America spends millions of dollars to promote the development of civil society, the rule of law and democracy. And we must carefully manage these funds, to make sure we get expected results", the edition led Norland's words. The tie between democratic reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration process is the key for Georgia, The diplomat promised to closely monitor the situation in the country in order to hold the upcoming elections in accordance with NATO standards.
"Indeed, we are extremely concerned about certain aspects of these elections and the harassment of opposition. Our task is to assess the situation. Program to strengthen the rule of law (in Georgia), support civil society and increase role of the media are effectively working with help of Congress. I hope that the Georgian authorities understand that they will be under close supervision, and that this elections will be a serious test on the way to NATO accession", Norland said, according to RIA Novosti.
Responding to questions from senators about the situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which gained independence after the armed aggression of Georgia in August 2008, Norland said that there still remains tense in the region, however, he warned against exerting pressure on Russia.