On a visit to Georgia, the US Vice President has vowed strong support for the country, a year after its war with Russia. But he has also touched on tense internal politics. Joe Biden made a point of meeting members of the opposition, who have complained that President Mikheil Saakashvili has grown too authoritarian. Biden told the opposition that he supports Georgia, not Saakashvili individually.
Earlier he told parliament the US would stand behind Georgia’s sovereignty, and urged Moscow to pull back its troops from Georgia’s two breakaway regions. Biden said: “We will not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and we urge the world not to.” However, Biden also warned Georgia that force was not an option for winning the territories back.
The visit comes as President Obama tries to reassure former Soviet allies that they will not be forgotten as Washington makes a move towards improving ties with Russia. Moscow has responded to the visit by saying nothing new was said, but a minister vowed that Russia would stop Tbilisi from rearming.
In a message to President Saakashvili on the domestic front, Biden said the country’s Rose Revolution will only be complete when the government is “transparent, accountable and fully participatory”.