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Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 526, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives toward the establishment of a democratic and prosperous Republic of Georgia and the establishment of a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict with Georgia's internationally recognized borders. I also want to stand with the ranking member for his support of Georgia. We need to stand by a democratic Georgia, a great ally of ours.
As the cochair of the Congressional Georgia Caucus, I was proud to sponsor this resolution along with my cochair and fellow Pennsylvanian, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.
Our strategic partnership with Georgia is based on shared values and common interests. A democratic and stable Republic of Georgia is in the political security and economic interests of the United States.
Georgian troops have played an important role in a variety of challenging missions across the globe, including Kosovo, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. In fact, they just brought home 900 Georgian troops and are going to re-up with 1700 troops.
While that doesn't seem like a lot, 1,700, when we have over 80,000, but when you look at a small country like Georgia with 5 million people, sending 1,700 troops is the equivalent of the United States of America sending over 100,000 troops. They have proven to be a reliable ally.
The level of their professionalism, as well as their sacrifices in the mission in which they have been involved so far, clearly demonstrates that Georgia has much to bring to the table as a future member of NATO and as a reliable ally.
Internally, Georgia has worked to develop its democratic and market-based economic institutions for over a decade.
The August 2008 war with Russia nearly halted the economic development, depleted public resources, drove up unemployment, and left a severe humanitarian crisis in its wake. A peaceful resolution to the conflict is a key priority for the United States in the Caucasus region, which is home to another one of our strong allies, Azerbaijan. Lasting regional stability can only be achieved through peaceful means and long-term diplomatic and political dialogue between all the parties.
It is also timely that we consider this resolution today, as Georgia is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on October 1. Georgia has put a robust system in place to support a free and fair electoral process. These elections will be an important test to Georgia's democracy and represent a chance for all Georgians to show the world how far they have come in this last decade.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important resolution today to express our support for one of our best and most important allies, the Republic of Georgia.
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