POLITICS
Path from Country of Heroes to Democracy
12 July, 2012

US Embassy celebrates Independence Day and says farewell to the Ambassador

On July 5, the American Embassy in Georgia was in a festive mood. The embassy staff members were to celebrate the 236th anniversary of Independence of the United States. Everything looked as if the celebration was taking place in America. The embassy is as spacious as the USA itself, creating a different atmosphere, which tells you that this is a faraway super-state that deserves deep respect.  

 

First of all,

the national anthem of the US was performed. John Bass, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia, greeted the invited guests in Georgian words: “Mogesalmebit and didi madloba. Today we celebrate the principles on which our country was founded – right for  life, liberty and personal happiness. But we don’t see them as only our values but as universal values,” His Excellency said.

“Yesterday, in her address to all of us serving overseas,  my boss, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that while we celebrate, we should also remember all those who are fighting to claim their universal human rights. We are proud to stay with them until we are giving them the freedom of opportunity we cherish, and they are universal. Today, we are doing that with Georgia and with Georgians.“

The ambassador of the United States added that the relations between the two countries surpass their borders and to prove it, he named the example of Afghanistan. “Today we honor the sacrifices and memory of those Georgians, Americans and the member countries of our coalition who have sacrificed their lives to help us accomplish that goal.“ After that, he focused on the history of the two countries. “This evening I am thinking about the elections 20 years after the country achieved independence from a foreign power. They involve politics, polarized parties, polarized electorate, very yellow press that does not report reliably, violence, intimidation and a bitterly contested elections.“ Did he mean Georgia? He did not specify. Here is an intrigue – probably 99% of our readers believe so, like I was misled myself. “Someone may think that I am talking about the upcoming elections of Georgia but I am not. I am talking about the US Presidential elections that took place in 1796. At the time of those elections, the population of the United States was about the size of the population of this country. Those elections were decided by just under 67 thousand voters,” Mr. Bass said, dispersing our doubts and suggestions. Allegedly, in those days, women had no right to vote and neither did the men who did not own the property in the United States.

The Ambassador recalled the remark of the Secretary of State, which she made during her visit to Georgia last month, implying that to develop its security, prosperity and democracy, Georgia needs to hold free and fair elections that will result in the fully dem-ocratic transition of power. “Some would suggest that this campaign and this electoral system in Georgia cannot be fair, and the system and the structure of this campaign and elections are illegitimate. I am not one of those people and I do not agree with that assessment.”

Mr. Bass’s main recommendation is to make compromises in the appropriate time and appropriate circumstances. “Benjamin Franklin, one of the founders of the United States, who played an instrumental role at a very critical time and shaped the institutions of our power, once said: compromises do not make great heroes but they make great democracies.” He wished that he could come back some years later and see the progress that would be made in building the democratic institutions and strengthening democratic culture.

It seems like an interesting and timely remark – Georgia has always been the country of Great heroes, but now there is no time for fighting with swords; There is time for negotiations and peaceful agreements. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for reminding us the wise words of the wise statesman. It sounds so timely!

To the question what July 4 means to him personally as for an ordinary citizen of the US, he replied: “I think since I am a diplomat representing my country, my feelings are both official and personal. I think you won’t find more patriotic group of Americans than those who serve overseas, because when we are working in the countries like Georgia, or in other young democracies where people are not able to express their universal rights, we see how precious this day is, how important it is for all of us to ensure that everyone everywhere has the prospect of being free.”

Georgian Journal asked Irakli Alasania, the Head of “Free Democrats” about the chances of holding fair elections. “It is a test and I am sure, we will pass it. People long for a change. I am sure that our European and American partners will support fair elections by sending the missions of observers to Georgia.”

Giga Bokeria, Secretary of National Security Council of Georgia, congratulated the American  people, saying that July 4 is associated with the victory of freedom. Georgian Journal asked Mr. Bokeria to name the values that we should borrow from the United States first and foremost: “The United States is the example of  protecting your own interests and the rights of your citizens, and at the same time not to be a problem for the rest of the world. I don’t mean that other countries must copy its model. Every nation has its own choice. Georgian people is the key factor in our country, not even an exceptionally close friends of our state. The advantage of dealing with the United States is that it does not impose obligations, it only assists you to implement your own choices.”

The festive mood was even more elevated by the sounds of Kool Fusion, American jazz-band that specially arrived for this day to Georgia to enhance the open-minded and relaxed American atmosphere of people rising glasses of beer , enjoying canapes and sandwiches and most likely, talking about the universal values. John Bass will soon leave Georgia and will be substituted by Richard Norland by the end of August.

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