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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Georgia [Republic]: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

The small Black Sea-bordering country of Georgia gained its independence at the end of 1991 with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The United States had an early interest in its fate, since the well-known former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, soon became its leader. Democratic and economic reforms faltered during his rule, however. New prospects for the country emerged after Shevardnadze was ousted in 2003 and the U.S.-educated Mikheil Saakashvili was elected president. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush visited Georgia in 2005, and praised the democratic and economic aims of the Saakashvili government while calling on it to deepen reforms. The August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict caused much damage to Georgia’s economy and military, as well as contributing to hundreds of casualties and tens of thousands of displaced persons in Georgia. The United States quickly pledged $1 billion in humanitarian and recovery assistance for Georgia. In early 2009, the United States and Georgia signed a Strategic Partnership Charter, which pledged U.S. support for democratization, economic development, and security reforms in Georgia. The Obama Administration has pledged continued U.S. support to uphold Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The United States has been Georgia’s largest bilateral aid donor, budgeting cumulative aid of $2.7 billion in FY1992-FY2008 (all agencies and programs). Georgia has regularly ranked among the top world states in terms of per capita U.S. aid. U.S.-budgeted foreign assistance for Georgia in FY2008 was $713.5 million and $359 million in FY2009 (including annual foreign operations appropriations and tranches from the $1 billion aid pledge). Estimated aid to Georgia in FY2010 was about $171.6 million, and planned spending for FY2011 is about $90 million (country totals for foreign assistance for FY2011 under the continuing resolution, H.R. 1473; P.L. 112-10, signed into law on April 15, 2011, are being finalized). The Administration has requested $87.6 million for foreign assistance for Georgia for FY2012.

Date of Report: May 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: 97-727
Price: $29.95

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