McConnell Remarks On Georgian Democracy

‘After the collapse of the Soviet Union, its unshackled nations have largely chosen freedom and worked to build democratic governments and societies oriented squarely to the West. And the neo-Soviet imperialists in the Kremlin see this as a threat… I hope those in power in Tbilisi will put sovereignty over subjugation and withdraw the coercive ‘Russia Law’ from parliament.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Georgia:

“Last week, just days after President Orban rolled out the red carpet in Budapest for Xi Jinping, the Chinese dictator rolled out the red carpet in Beijing for Vladimir Putin.

“The ‘friendship without limits’ struck between America’s greatest strategic adversaries will now endure, quote, ‘for generations to come’.

“And it appears to be rooted in a shared myth about the nature of world conflicts and a victim complex that would be laughable if it didn’t carry such grave consequences for Western peace and security.

“At last week’s summit, Russia and China together accused the United States of threatening the world’s strategic balance, as if it’s Washington rather than Beijing or Moscow trying to redraw borders by force or to disrupt global order.

“Well, if you’re looking for the government that has doubled its nuclear arsenal in three years, you’ll find it in Beijing, not Washington. In fact, America’s own strategic deterrent continues to suffer from chronic neglect.  And the Biden Administration continues to submit defense budgets that fail to keep up with inflation, much less with the growing threat posed by the PRC.

“And if you’re looking for the regime recklessly developing an insanely provocative and destabilizing nuclear weapon to deploy in space, you’ll find that one in Moscow.

“The world’s leading authoritarians never seem to let facts get in the way. But economic and military realities matter enormously to the future of fledgling democracies and developing nations who are vulnerable to their economic coercion and thuggish political intimidation.

“The challenge to Western peace and prosperity is not confined to the Taiwan Strait and the trenches of Ukraine. Chinese debt traps and Russian security forces are expanding malign influence from Central Asia to Africa to our own Western Hemisphere.

“Russia’s efforts to strangle democracy and wrestle free societies back under its control are perhaps most glaring along the borders of Europe.

“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unshackled nations have largely chosen freedom and worked to build democratic governments and societies oriented squarely to the West.

“And the neo-Soviet imperialists in the Kremlin see this as a threat.

“Leaders in Washington are prone to forget how fragile our own experiment in democracy was during its earliest days… and how precious are the safeguards our founders enshrined in our government to protect the minority from the excesses of authoritarian or majoritarian rule.

“Sometimes, of course, politicians in Washington even flirt with the idea of tearing down these safeguards of democracy to deny the minority any meaningful power.

“Fortunately, there’s still a bipartisan firewall in the Senate against this sort of short-sighted radicalism.

“But for nascent, vulnerable democracies, such safeguards face even graver threats. And in Georgia, a parliamentary majority’s quest for power is threatening to suffocate the nation’s civil society and unravel the guardrails of its democracy.

“In an attempt to consolidate its hold on government, the Georgian Dream Party would stamp out the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people.

“And while the political opposition is large, it is chronically divided against itself.

“Despite their feckless party leaders, thousands of Georgians have taken to the streets to protest. Their desire for self-determination and freedom from Russian coercion is obvious. Four in five Georgians tell pollsters they want a distinctly European future.

“They believe that planting themselves firmly in the West, among democratic nations where the rule of law prevails, is in their best interests.

“Whether Georgia looks East or West matters to the United States. Standing with free peoples resisting the aggression of tyrants like Putin or Xi is in our own interests. This is true of Taiwan and Ukraine, Estonia and Japan.

“And it’s true of Georgia. The Georgian people deserve to write their own future, not have it dictated to them by Moscow’s preferred party chiefs.

“And why is it that Russians obsess over controlling Georgia’s future? It’s about more than acting out Putin’s neo-imperialist fantasy.

“Geography matters. For millennia, Georgia and its Black Sea coast have stood at the crossroads of the civilized world. It’s a key transit point for critical resources. And today, along with Armenia, it sits as a tantalizing link in the land bridge between authoritarian partners in Moscow and Tehran.

“The people of Georgia have a long history of enduring conflict and conquest. They have a long tradition of resilience and a rich culture to be proud of. And they know there’s a difference between bending to Russia and turning to the West.

“So, like friends of the Georgian people across the West, I’m hopeful that this moment will be one in which they can take yet more pride… As a moment when the opposition to Russian coercion puts petty differences aside and stood united.

“Of course, this must also be a moment for Georgia’s ruling party to recognize the costs of ignoring their people’s will in order to fulfill Putin’s whims. And to stop short of shredding their relationship with the West.

“I hope those in power in Tbilisi will put sovereignty over subjugation…

“And withdraw the coercive ‘Russia Law’ from parliament.”


Related Issues: Iran, Ukraine, China, Russia