Biden Faces First Major Foreign Policy Test in Georgia
Added 02-25-21 02:20:04pm EST - “The Georgian government's Tuesday raid on the opposition party's headquarters and arrest of its leader, Nika Melia, threatens to cripple the only democracy in the South Caucasus and is an early foreign policy test for the Biden administration,…” - Freebeacon.com
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The Georgian government's Tuesday raid on the opposition party's headquarters and arrest of its leader, Nika Melia, threatens to cripple the only democracy in the South Caucasus and is an early foreign policy test for the Biden administration, which has yet to take any concrete action aimed at holding Georgia's pro-Russian government accountable for its crimes.
Melia, leader of the pro-western United National Movement, was arrested on Tuesday after government forces aligned with the pro-Moscow ruling Georgian Dream party raided the movement's offices. The organized assault is just the latest attempt by Georgian Dream to destroy its pro-American opposition and further align the country with Russia. The party is bankrolled and controlled by Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire with deep ties to Moscow and, at one time, the largest private shareholder of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom.
Georgia's continued backslide into authoritarianism threatens to erode its longstanding alliance with the United States and puts the Biden administration in a tense diplomatic plight as it seeks to make good on promises to protect democracies across the globe. American congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have roundly criticized Georgian Dream's actions and called for new sanctions on the country's leaders. The Biden State Department, however, has refrained from taking a firm position on the situation, instead calling for both sides to remain calm.
"We call on all sides to avoid actions that could further escalate tensions and to engage in good faith negotiations to resolve the current political crisis," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Tuesday.
The crisis, however, is quickly worsening. Giorgi Gakharia, the country's embattled prime minister, abandoned the office last week as Ivanishvili and other Georgian Dream leaders demanded that Melia be arrested on trumped-up charges that are widely seen as politically motivated. Gakharia has been replaced by Irakli Garibashvili, an associate of Ivanishvili who also has close ties to Russia.
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