Thank you for coming to this important event today.
Just last week we held our own peaceful elections in the United States, the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. From our experience it is clear that democracy is often noisy and chaotic and can reveal significant disagreements within a society. That’s not always a bad thing, but recently in the United States, just like in Georgia, we’ve seen an increase in polarization and division. Unfortunately, both our countries have seen Russia and other autocratic regimes exploit these divisions to sow discord in an attempt to undermine our societies.
In today’s difficult geopolitical environment, national unity has become even more important. This does not mean that we all agree on everything and that there will be no disagreements, especially on important political issues. Party competition and even partisanship is a normal and healthy part of any democracy. But also compromises for the common good.
We have seen autocrats use “managed” or sovereign democracy to quell dissent and advance their own interests. Autocratic regimes like Russia often use national unity as an excuse to silence independent voices. The people of Georgia should be proud of the diverse voices and viewpoints that you have here and your history of speaking the truth to those in power to ensure the country moves forward on a democratic path.
In the United States, we have sought a more democratic approach to building unity through dialogue and commitment to core values. Amid a highly polarized political environment and intense political competition, it’s easy to forget that the people of Georgia are united on the key issues Georgia faces.
The people of Georgia have repeatedly and clearly said that they want to live in a prosperous, secure and democratic Georgia that is fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of peoples. The United States supports the citizens of Georgia in achieving this goal. Everything we do here is in support of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future, in cooperation with the Government and partners in Georgia who share this goal. Our 30-year relationship with the people of Georgia has always focused on making this goal a reality, because that is what Georgians keep saying they want.
This is an unprecedented moment in the history of Georgia. Small parties shouldn’t get in the way, especially when it’s clear that people on all sides have so much in common. There’s too much at stake. Therefore, we are happy to support this initiative to bring about a consensus on guiding principles for Georgia, which can be the basis for civilized discussions. This is an attempt to healthily focus competition on how best to achieve what people desire most. There’s a reason Georgia’s motto is strength through unity. We hope that this initiative will increase the power of this motto.