Tefft’s “service record”09.09.2009 | 16:08
US Ambassador Extraordinary to Georgia has completed his mission. John Tefft's 4-year term of office expired on September 8. Over this time he managed to convert the country's leadership to serve the US interests in prejudice of Georgia's own security.
Today US Ambassador John Tefft is leaving Georgia. Over four years of his stay in this country Georgia not only stopped moving toward democracy but moved back to authoritarianism. But the most significant and tragic event of this time was the loss of Ossetian and Abkhaz territories following Tbilisi's attack on Tskhinval the administration of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili ventured thanks to the US assistance, i.e. with John Tefft's direct involvement.
Part of Georgian society is perfectly aware that both anti-Russian and pro-American policy adopted by the Georgian leadership has led to the country's collapse. However there still are US fans in Georgia that denote themselves as "The US Friends Club". Last Friday this organization made a goodbye dinner in honor of departing Tefft attended by other heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Georgia, government and parliament members.
That same day Mikheil Saakashvili awarded the US Ambassador the Order of Saint George for outstanding merits and his contribution to the development of Georgia's political, cultural and social life. "In my view John Tefft has become part cultural, political and social life of Georgia. His spouse made a generous contribution too", - the Georgian president stated.
By the way Mariella Tefft was at the head of medical and demographic research of USAID international development agency in Georgia. Yesterday on September 7 the agency's activities were summed up, GHN reports. As it turned out real mother mortality was higher than the official rate.
"Any country that has a diplomat of such standing must be proud of it", - Mikheil Saakashvili stated at the award ceremony. Did he mean his own country where this pro was commissioned to or the USA with their unrivalled ability to promote their interests everywhere worldwide.
Georgians will hardly forget Georgia's opt-out of gas cooperation with Iran at Washington's dictation repeated by Tefft in winter 2006. Then supplies of Russian gas were halted after explosions on North Caucasus - Transcaucasia and Mozdok-Tbilisi gas lines. Mikheil Saakashvili signed contracts of Iranian gas supplies and at first the USA took it understandingly. But later Tefft in his interview with Kviris Palitra newspaper (Tbilisi) stated that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza's words that the White House wouldn't mind Tbilisi using the Iranian gas to overcome the crisis had been misinterpreted.
"The US met the fact with understanding that in force majeure circumstances that left the country without gas after the explosion on the gas line Georgia had to purchase a certain amount of gas from Iran. But long-term strategic partnership between Iran and Georgia in that sphere is unacceptable for us", - the ambassador said crossing out Georgia's plans to acquire full gas independence from Russia.
During desperate confrontation between the opposition and the government this spring and summer John Tefft was totally on the side of the ruling elite contrary to the diplomatic corps's promises to keep out of the country's domestic affairs. Several protest leaders immediately reacted with the harsh criticism of the ambassador. Ex minister Georgy Khaindrava stated: "US Ambassador John Tefft is not fond of Georgia. Washington wants to exploit Saakashvili as a fat bait to complicate the Russian case and make headway to new territories in order to expand the democratic space at a profit. No one cares of Georgia's future". New Rights' leader Mamuka Katsitadze called the ambassador inadequate remarking in his interview with GeorgiaTimes correspondent that Tefft was the last representative of Bush administration in Georgia logically destined to be replaced.
Certainly Tefft's contribution to Georgia's prosperity is rather doubtful but there's no denying that the USA really provides economic help to the country. Right on the award day the US ambassador took part in the opening ceremony of a new border checkpoint in Kazbegi on the Georgian-Russian border. This is one of 18 facilities constructed and repaired under the Georgian border security and reinforcement program funded by the US government, GHN reports. USD 2.4 mln were spent on Kazbegi checkpoint construction. The corps of US army engineers was in charge of construction.
Kazbegi checkpoint is a reverse side of Upper Lars checkpoint opened in the territory of Russia a few months ago after three-year reconstruction. However the traffic via two newest checkpoints wasn't restored by the interested sides: there are no diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia. It looks somewhat symbolic that the US Ambassador who witnessed the bloodshed drama between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia opens a crossing point on the Russian border before his departure. Looks like inviting two countries to make peace on the part of the instigator of their quarrel.