WASHINGTON—Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), lead sponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met with Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, Thursday to discuss the bilateral relationship between the United States and Georgia and to ask the president to focus more attention on the Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, which borders the Republic of Armenia.
Economic opportunity, education, and development in Samtskhe-Javakheti have lagged behind that of predominantly Georgian areas of the country.
During the meeting in the U.S. Capitol, President Saakashvili expressed a willingness to work with Schiff and Berman to direct more resources to Samtskhe-Javakheti and said that he would fully support additional American assistance to the region.
“I was very pleased with the discussion we had with President Saakashvili,” Schiff said. “He was unhesitating in expressing support when we asked for additional efforts to aid Armenian-Georgians.”
“I will continue to fight for the fair treatment and equal rights for the ethnic Armenian community in Georgia,” said Howard Berman, the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a longtime champion of Armenian causes.
President Saakashvili has been in Washington for several days meeting with a variety of senior American officials, including President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and congressional leaders.
An ongoing dialogue between the Armenian National Committee of America and the Georgian government—both in Tbilisi and via Georgia’s Ambassador in Washington—is exploring ways to expand the Georgian-Armenian partnership to include broader direct Georgian and Armenian investments and also increased U.S. assistance to promote job-creation in the Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti (Javakhk) region of Georgia.
“The Embassy of Georgia, in support of our government’s material commitment to economic development for our citizens in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and throughout all of our Republic, looks forward to working with our friends in the U.S. Congress and the Administration and with all American civil society stakeholders – including, of course, with the Armenian American community – in encouraging the targeting of U.S. assistance to meet Samtskhe-Javakheti’s urgent job-creation, infrastructure, technical, and humanitarian needs,” stated Georgia Ambassador to the U.S. Temuri Yakobashvili.
“We look forward, in cooperation with Ambassador Yakobashvili and Georgian government officials, to broadening the longstanding ties that have existed between the Georgian and Armenian peoples through greater Georgian government investment in the economic development of Samtskhe-Javakheti and by collectively supporting a robust U.S. aid package for Georgia that includes targeted assistance to this heavily Armenian populated region,” stated ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.
ANCA has worked closely with members of Congress, USAID and others in the administration to explore U.S. assistance opportunities in Javakhk, including public-private partnerships, which would offer material incentives for broader international investment in the region.