Remarks
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Remarks at the Global Security 2011 Forum
Bratislava, Slovakia
March 3, 2011


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Date: 03/03/2011 Description: Assistant Secretary Gordon delivers remarks at the Global Security 2011 Forum in Bratislava, Slovakia. - State Dept Image

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thank you very much, Robert. I appreciate the personal touch and the kind introduction. It really is a pleasure for me to be here at GlobSec 2011. I think this conference has clearly established itself as one of the premier venues for a discussion of global and European security, not just in Central Europe, but in all of Europe. I really am delighted to be here, particularly with so many good friends and old colleagues in the room.

It was nice to follow Commissioner Fule. I’ve also had the opportunity throughout the day to meet with a number of ministers and other senior officials from Central Europe which I know is an added value of this conference -- not just the public events but the opportunities for networking that we all take advantage of.

Let me also begin by thanking Minister Dzurinda and the Slovak government and the Slovak Atlantic Commission for putting this impressive conference together.

I’m billed to talk about the relationship between the United States and our allies in Central Europe and how that relationship contributes to European and global security. Let me try to do that relatively briefly so that I get a chance afterwards to sit down and take some questions and hear from you.

The fact that I can talk about this topic in Bratislava, the capitol of a dynamic and vibrant democracy, is a testament to how much the countries in the region have achieved in such a short time. Since gaining their independence nearly 20 years ago the people of this country have taken enormous strides to establish democracy and become full members of Euro-Atlantic institutions in the Euro Zone. The United States, I want to say, is proud to count Slovakia as a close friend and ally and we value its contributions to regional stability, contributing to integration in the Balkans but also more globally, including its contribution to our common interests in Afghanistan.

Slovakia’s success mirrors the leadership and growth that we have seen throughout Central Europe. With the Hungarian and Polish EU presidencies in 2011 and Slovakia’s efforts to make the Visegrad-4 a broader forum, bringing in others to address wider EU and NATO issues as they did today, inviting the German Foreign Minister for a discussion of such issues, I think the combination of those things really puts Central Europe in the spotlight in the course of this year.

The Visegrad-4 have also shown strong leadership in promoting political and economic stability in the Eastern neighborhood which is only fitting. You brought about an extraordinarily successful democratic transition in your own countries after the fall of the Iron Curtain here in Central Europe, and now your example and your assistance are crucial to promoting and consolidating democracy in your neighbors to the east. The Eastern Partnership Initiative, of course, was launched under the Czech EU presidency, and both Hungary and Poland have continued that focus, making the Eastern Partnership Initiative one of the priorities of their respective presidencies this year. Slovakia has also made the EPI a priority agenda item as V-4 president.

I want to say on behalf of the United States that this is an initiative that we have strongly supported from its inception. We believe that enhanced political and economic relationships with the countries of the Eastern Partnership are important to the EU’s future and to the stability and prosperity of a part of Europe that faces significant challenges. I can tell you that Secretary Clinton and I and the rest of the administration have been very much focused on these countries. I was in three of the Eastern Partnership countries in the Caucasus just last week.

Let me say a word about what we’re doing. The United States in 2010 allocated $310 million in assistance to the EPI region, provided the remainder of our $1 billion in assistance package to Georgia following the 2008 conflict. And we signed a five year, $262 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with Moldova. So I think it’s fair to say we’re putting our money where our mouth is in terms of our commitment to these countries.

We have focused on support for democratic actors and civil society capacity, building economic growth and stability, promoting health and education, and bolstering peace and security in the region. These are goals that are very consistent with the for EPI platform areas which are people to people contacts, governance and stability, economic integration, and energy. We hope, therefore, that the initiative will provide additional funds and programs to the region, and that by closely coordinating our assistance -- and this is something we do put a premium on and I’m pleased to say has gone very well -- we can leverage our contributions and maximize our impact by working together.

For these reasons we welcome the planned EU Eastern Partnership Initiative Summit later this year, and expect to participate at a very senior level.

The United States and the European Union acting in concert can send a powerful message of solidarity, something we have done recently with respect to Belarus. Together with the targeted set of sanctions that both the EU and the United States announced on January 31st, we have sent a very clear message to the government of Belarus and to Mr. Lukashenko that business as usual will not continue as long as the suppression of civil society, the opposition to independent media continue, and demonstrators are detained, tried and sentenced, which in our view makes them political prisoners. We call on the government of Belarus to release those detainees now.

We were also gratified that Poland recently hosted a very successful Donors Conference in Warsaw that raised 87 million euros. At that conference the United States increased its assistance to civil society in Belarus by more than a third in order to support civil society, media freedom, and political competition. We feel strongly that we not only need to send a message to the government of Belarus that there are negative consequences to its actions, but we need to stand by the people of Belarus and support them in all ways that we can.

In addition to these steps the leaders of the region have spoken out consistently and strongly for reform in countries like Belarus, and we will continue to join you in voicing our support for democracy in Belarus and elsewhere in the region.

Our Central European partners have also shown leadership on energy security issues, another priority for the Obama administration. Hungary and Slovakia recently came to an agreement to build an energy interconnector as part of the expanding north/south energy highway to ensure greater diversification of supply and distribution. Poland is a member of the Global Shale Gas Initiative and we recently signed an agreement with Poland to expand U.S.-Polish cooperation on clean energy issues. We’ve also signed an agreement with the Czech Republic on civil nuclear cooperation. Secretary Clinton puts a very high priority on promoting energy diversity in Europe which we believe is essential for ensuring the security of supplies, competitive prices, and political independence.

Central Europe thus clearly plays a crucial role as a partner of the United States in promoting democracy and stability in Europe, but its contributions run far beyond Europe’s borders. As the world is transfixed by the upheaval in the Middle East, the EU and its member states have an important role to play in assisting new governments to develop democratic institutions and practices. We’ve already taken a united stand in condemning Colonel Gadhafi and the violence he has unleashed on his own people. One of our priorities early on as developments in North Africa have moved forward is to cooperate, to have the international community speak with one voice which we succeeded doing in UN Security Council Resolution 1970, we did this together with our European Union allies and Secretary Clinton traveled to Geneva earlier this week in order to consult. I’ve done more of that today, and we put a high priority on speaking together and sending the message that we’re standing up for the citizens of this region just as we did for the citizens in Central Europe.

As Secretary Clinton said in Geneva earlier this week, while the circumstances in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are each unique, in every case the demand for change has come from within, with people calling for greater civil liberties, economic opportunities, and a stake in the governance of their own societies.

That too is the story of Central Europe’s march to freedom. But we recognize as well that the experience of democratic transition in Central Europe was not easy and its lessons were hard won. While every situation is of course different, the governments of the Arab world are already looking to Central Europe for advice and assistance.

I was in Sofia earlier this week and I want to underscore that our friends there intend to host a conference on this subject on May 5th and 6th which is an initiative we very much welcome. We believe while we know that there are major differences between what took place in Europe and what is taking place in the Arab world today, there are lessons that can be drawn, and a lot of people in this room and in this region can help share them.

Central Europe also contributes to global stability through NATO, something that was underscored again at the recently concluded NATO Summit in Lisbon. Lisbon marked a watershed in the alliance’s evolution and achieved progress in three crucial areas. First, we revitalized the alliance and prepared it to meet the threats of the 21st Century. We did so by adopting a new strategic concept defining new capabilities for the alliance and initiating important reforms in the structure of the alliance.

Second, we positioned the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan for success by pursuing a strategy that will allow Afghans to gradually take lead responsibility for security in their country while maintaining a strong partnership with NATO.

Finally, we moved NATO’s relationship with Russia forward with cooperation in a number of vital areas including missile defense. Let me say a few words about missile defense and our relationship with Russia.

At Lisbon allies recognized that the defense of Europe can no longer be achieved by just tanks or bombers. Now we need defenses against a new and very serious set of threats, in particular ballistic missiles in the hands of dangerous regimes, particularly if potentially combined with nuclear weapons. Our aim as an alliance is to develop a missile defense capability that will provide full coverage and protection from missile threats for all NATO territory populations and forces in Europe. This capability will be a tangible expression of NATO’s core mission of collective defense. At the Lisbon Summit allies also welcomed the U.S. missile defense system in Europe known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, as a valuable national contribution to the overall effort, and we hope to see additional voluntary contributions from other allies.

Finally with respect to Russia, NATO’s relationship with that country has been transformed in the past 20 years from adversary to partner. We work together in dealing with a full range of security challenges and the business of practical cooperation enhances our collective security, making both Russia and every ally more secure.

Lisbon marked the first NATO-Russia Council Summit since the Georgia conflict in 2008. But we didn’t just meet. We moved beyond cooperation and moved it forward significantly between NATO and Russia. We agreed on a NATO-Russia Joint Review of 21st Century common security challenges which include terrorism, piracy, natural and manmade disasters, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and ballistic missiles. In addition, we took the important decision to resume theater missile defense cooperation with Russia, and we also agreed to further explore territorial missile defense cooperation.

Let me add, and let me be particularly clear, however, that these efforts at cooperation with Russia will in no way limit the United States or NATO’s capacity to deploy missile defense or other collective defense capabilities. Rather the steps represent a fundamental understanding that NATO and Russia share a number of common interests and we can advance those interests by working together.

None of this progress and none of the progress we have made in our so-called bilateral reset with Russia comes at the expense of any ally or of our principles including our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations in Europe and NATO’s open door. Both the United States and NATO continue to have differences with Russia and we have expressed those regularly and clearly but we have not allowed them to prevent NATO and Russia from advancing cooperation that ultimately will enhance stability throughout Europe and Eurasia.

To some up, I think this review of all of these issues on the U.S. agenda with Europe and with Central Europe demonstrates two things. First, we work very closely with Europe on every major issue, both internationally and within Europe. Second, Central Europe plays a crucial role in advancing this agenda. Whether the issue is promoting democracy in Europe’s East, guaranteeing energy security for the whole continent, contributing to the EU’s efforts to address major global challenges, or the NATO effort to secure Afghanistan, the energy, ideas and commitment of Central Europe is something we look to and rely on in pursuing our common goals. There is much work to be done to translate this agenda into concrete steps towards the security and prosperity of both Europe and the United States.

That is why the work that everyone here does is so important, both in generating public support for the U.S.-Europe partnership, but also in giving meaning to the strength of the partnership by making sure we have the will and the resources necessary to deliver on our very full agenda.

As we rise to meet all these challenges I’m confident that the partnership between the United States and Central Europe which achieved so much in the last 20 years, will achieve even greater things in decades to come.

Thank you all very much.

[Applause].

Moderator: Thank you very much, Mr. Assistant Secretary. Mr. Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon is ready to answer a few of your questions. So if I see some hands, we have still ten minutes.

Question: Phil, thank you for a fantastic succinct overview.

Can I ask you to take out your crystal ball, a question about the future. What will the relationship look like, not just Central European, but Transatlantic relationship after Afghanistan? The reason I ask is for all the occasional griping from this part of Europe about the Europe “whole and free” not being the central organizing principle, it’s still the case that one of the things that’s on the top of your priority list, Afghanistan, is a common joint Transatlantic mission under NATO command. Once that goes there will still be a busy agenda, and you’ve just laid it out -- missile defense, Russia, and what not. Hand on heart, will these be top U.S. priorities or not? My sense is they won’t be. You will be more worried about China, you will be more worried about India. You may well be more worried about Northern Africa. Am I right to assume that when Afghanistan is done that we may be less central, the relationship may be less central to your foreign policy priorities than it is now, and what will that mean for U.S.-European relationship in the medium run?

Moderator: Can we pick two questions?

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Sure.

Question: Thank you very much, Phil. You were not here for the former panel, hence I will repeat the question but would also direct it to the former panelists here.

France and Italy and I think Slovenia, some other states, have proposed rebalancing some of the EU funds to strengthen the support that we’re giving to the south and possibly to the expense of what we’re delivering in the east. So how do you think this is a good idea? That’s number one.

And a very short number two question since I’ve got the mike anyway -- [Laughter].

Assistant Secretary Gordon: The first was a yes or no question, so that won’t take long.

Question: That will be very very short. You mentioned the conference in Warsaw, the Donors Conference. And Minister Sikorski proposed at this conference that a European Endowment for Democracy should be created. Again, do you think this is a good idea? If it is, would the United States be prepared to participate in it?

Question: A quick question since you just came from the Caucasus. Three difficult questions.

One is, where does Armenia and Turkish reconciliation stand now? Can we expect any results before this coming April? If not, then what?

The second question about Nagorno-Karabakh. We had a panel here, a number of people continue to express serious concern about the state of the conflict. Do you see any signs after Astana that we could be moving somewhere?

The third question, what do you think the situation in Tunisia, et cetera, means for Azerbaijan?

Thank you.

Question: My question would be connected to the one just said. My question would be also related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Do you see any chance for closer cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in preventing the war from happening? Or to put the question the other way around, how do you evaluate the leverages the U.S. has on Armenia and on Azerbaijan regarding the conflict resolution?

Thank you very much.

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thank you all. Those are all very good and serious questions. I suppose I should first say to anyone who arrived late thinking they were coming for the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, I’m not the Ukrainian Foreign Minister. I just don’t want there to be any confusion if journalists arrived in time for what they thought was something else. [Laughter].

Tomas asked a question about shifting global priorities from the United States, or potentially shifting, which is something we hear often and thus I’m glad to have an opportunity to address it. I genuinely think it can be misunderstood.

Is the United States and is President Obama interested in and focused on China and India and Brazil and the Middle East and Afghanistan? Yes. We plead guilty. I think you would appropriately worry if we weren’t and if the President wasn’t. These are enormous challenges that we face and they’re very high on our strategic agenda. But I think it’s a misunderstanding to see the world in zero sum terms or believe that what that means is we are no longer interested in Europe, don’t need Europe, and it gets pushed aside. Indeed, I would go further to argue that it is precisely because we face such tremendous global challenges that we need a strong relationship with the democratic, like-minded, prosperous allies of Europe.

I’ll tell you how we think about it, viewing the world from Washington. When you ask yourself how are we going to deal with these challenges that we face -- the Iranian nuclear program, an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, an even more potentially dangerous situation next door in Pakistan, the instability in the Middle East and now in North Africa -- unless you think we think we can do all that alone, which we can’t and we don’t have the resources for, then you think you need allies. Then you ask where are they going to come from? I submit to you that even in this changing geopolitical environment they’re still going to come from Europe. Who is helping us in Afghanistan with this war that we are fighting? There are 40,000 European troops in Afghanistan, and European civil contributions. Who is helping us deal with the Iranian nuclear challenge? It’s primarily our European partners. So yes, China is important, India is important, but they’re not fighting side by side with us in Afghanistan and they’re not the most helpful allies in dealing with climate change, Iran, Middle East, North Africa.

So I think Europeans really should not imagine that in the new world it means that our focus has turned elsewhere and Europe isn’t important. It’s important for different ways, but it is vitally important and it’s really a part of the President’s world view and the administration’s world view.

That’s related to the south/north question and shifting priorities. Again, it would be, I wouldn’t sit here and say that there’s not going to be increased focus on North Africa and the Middle East moving forward. As we speak, we are considering options there, faced with a major crisis there, refugee flows. But again, I think the same point holds. We’re in this together. Central and Northern Europe are in it too. And in this globalized world we’re going to be turning to each other to deal with these problems. Fortunately Central Europe is now part of that stable, democratic West that can help contribute to global security challenges. And we don’t neglect in any way the ongoing security challenges that remain in Europe. But I think Central Europe is now part of our common alliance increasingly dealing with common global challenges.

You asked a specific question about a European Fund for Democracy. I don’t have a specific answer on that initiative or whether the United States would support it. I do have a general or generic one which is that we do need to see more active support from Europeans to support and bolster and promote democracy. Fortunately, while we’re all concerned about the potential negative effects from what’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa, at the same time there’s a potentially enormous opportunity. After so many decades of stagnation to see, and I put this in my remarks underscoring the point that Secretary Clinton underscored in Geneva about this coming from within. That’s what’s really potentially interesting about this is that this was not outside imposed regime change, this was not provoked by al-Qaida violence. This was from within those countries, much in the way it also happened in Central Europe, with obvious support from the outside, just as we need to support it in North Africa and the Middle East. But that’s hugely important.

So if Europeans are thinking about helping to fund that and sharing their expertise, and I mentioned the upcoming Sofia Conference, we think that’s a good thing.

Auksana asked about Armenia and Turkish reconciliation. You know that is something the United States has strongly supported. The normalization process and the protocols signed between the two countries. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that that process is stalled.

We strongly supported it. We thought it would be a step towards genuine reconciliation in the region that needs more genuine reconciliation. And it would contribute to further trust and peace and stability not just for Turkey and Armenia, but elsewhere as well.

Unfortunately while the two countries agreed to the protocols, initialed the protocols and signed them, witnessed by Secretary Clinton and other foreign ministers from Europe, the process has stalled. Turkey has said its parliament won’t ratify the protocols without progress on the other dispute that you mentioned.

We believe it should go ahead and have tried to encourage the parties to move forward, and we continue to do so because we continue to believe that that is the true path to peace and stability and reconciliation in the region. We’re going to continue with our efforts to get them to move forward.

You also asked about Nagorno-Karabakh. Again, I was just there with Deputy Secretary Steinberg to assess and try to contribute to the situation. The two countries through the Minsk Group process in which we are actively involved as co-chairs with the Russians and the French, actively promoting agreement on the basic principles that would again be a step towards peace between the two countries.

And the Russians have been very much involved. If I can tie it to the last question about U.S.-Russian cooperation, I would have to say U.S.-Russian cooperation is very good. The Minsk Group co-chairs work very well together. It is sometimes alleged, and I want to be completely frank about this, that we have deferred excessively to Russia because more of the meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents take place in Russia. That is true. Geographically it’s closer, it’s easier for them to meet in Astrakhan or Sochi than to come to Chicago. But we’re actively involved in the entire process. We feel the Russians are transparent with us and vice versa. We feel we have a common interest in avoiding conflict and promoting stability and energy flows and peace in the region. So we’re actively working on it.

It’s difficult. There’s not enough trust between the countries. But again, it comes back to what I said about the Eastern Partnership Initiative and EU involvement and American involvement. We have a common interest in finishing this business. There are parts of Europe that have become democratic and stable, and there are other parts that haven’t yet, and Europe won’t be complete until these other parts, which include the Balkans, which includes Belarus, which includes the Caucasus are stable as well, and once again, that’s why we join together in supporting this Eastern Partnership Initiative.

Moderator: Thank you very much. Do we have a few more minutes for the second round of questions?

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Sure.

Question: Let’s stay in the region and ask for Georgia. Secretary Clinton three times within a very short period of time has stated the “Russian occupation of Georgia” which is a very strong statement. The Georgians have complained they’ve been abandoned to some extent. There is some kind of a ban on weapons that Poland doesn’t deliver, others do not want to deliver. They complain a bit. I’m not saying that they need that much weapons, but you know, I am repeating what they are saying.

The question is, do you have a kind of strategy which involves Russia on one hand and the regional powers there on the other?

Question: Phil, thank you for taking the time to share your views on this important relationship.

Let me touch on your points about the crisis going on in Libya. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the kind of dialogue you’ve been having with your European counterparts and perhaps give us a sense to the degree you can, where’s been the greatest amount of agreement? And perhaps the greatest amount of difficulty or disagreement?

I was struck by your comments in that you mentioned an important role for the EU in that crisis. You didn’t mention at all NATO. I’m not inferring there’s an immediate role for NATO now with military force, but perhaps there is. But there certainly should be possibly some roles downstream for NATO in civil military development, military cooperation and such.

Why wasn’t NATO on your agenda?

Question: Thank you very much for your intervention and mentioning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. My question would be actually regarding that case as well.

You just mentioned that there is good cooperation between Russia and USA in favor of OSCE co-chair, but as Azerbaijani I’m a bit upset and kind of hopeless seeing that the last 17 years same format, same co-chairs, trying to deal with the conflict and nothing changed since 17 years. You have like OSCE co-chair which didn’t change, the format, and the situation of the conflict which didn’t change as well.

The question is, how we want to go further with that. It’s not only U.S. perspective but also European perspective. There are some economic alternatives to solve this conflict.

At the same time today we discussed that leaving such frozen conflicts in the region can be quite a challenge and threat not only for the Caucasus but for Eastern Europe.

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thank you. Maybe I’ll go in reverse order and stay with Azerbaijan just for a minute.

Look, I understand and share your frustration and concern. We share it and that’s why we’re so present and active on the issue. It is a dangerous issue. It is, fortunately, frozen, but there are incidents on the line of control, there are casualties, there is a constant risk that it gets unfrozen in a negative way. And even if we don’t suspect, or don’t believe it likely that there is an outright invasion in the near future, there’s always a chance of a miscalculation and a conflict. So I absolutely understand why you’re frustrated and concerned.

I don’t think frankly, that the problem is the sort of international framework for the negotiations. I say if we felt there was some other framework that would be better, we would be open to it. We feel no undue attachment to the current framework and the Minsk Group co-chairs. As I mentioned, we feel that is actually working pretty well. Among the three co-chairs and then also in touch with all the other interested parties. We feel we’ve been presenting the types of ideas that can help resolve the conflict. Ultimately as you know all too well, the parties themselves have a lot of fear and insecurities to overcome, and we’re doing all we can to help them do so.

In Libya, I certainly didn’t want to neglect NATO in thinking about it and we certainly haven’t done so. Indeed I spent much of the day in touch with colleagues at NATO because as you know as early as last week NATO met and began the process of prudent planning to be ready to be able to offer our leaders more options if they choose to move in that direction. We’re not prejudging anything. It’s the same thing the United States is doing through its deployment of assets in the region. It is not signaling any use of force or prejudging anything. It’s a step to give the President more options as what is clearly a volatile situation evolves.

That’s what we believe NATO should be doing as well. Without prejudging anything, just studying the types of questions like how you could enforce an arms embargo which the UN Security Council has already mandated; like how you could help with humanitarian assistance which a number of countries have already undertaken including evacuations; like how you could implement a no-fly zone if leaders decided to implement one.

So that is our view, is that NATO should begin planning in these things because we want to be able to give our leaders the options in case they decide to go in that direction. So I didn’t mean to fail to mention that.

I did mention the EU and there too, we have done some work together. The EU, like the U.S., has put sanctions on the Qadhafi family and those around it. We’ve taken a step further and put broader sanctions on Libya because we don’t want that family and that person to have access to national assets, and we’re encouraging the EU to do the same.

But the first point I made which you picked up on was just the theme of cooperation, and that I do want to stress because that was our instinct from the start, to make sure that the international community was speaking with one voice for all sorts of reasons, but not least, the more Qadhafi and those around him, and I put the stress on those around him, see that the world is at one in saying he’s got to go, the less likely it is that people will rally to him and believe that his regime has a future. That’s why it was important that we could quickly get a UN Security Council Resolution unanimously, including the Chinese who aren’t normally quick to support such things. I think that was a real signal that the world has decided that his use of force against his own people, as President Obama said, is a sign that he’d lost support and legitimacy and needs to go.

That’s why we put an emphasis on international cooperation. You heard the President when he addressed this, immediately talked about sending Secretary Clinton to Geneva to consult with European allies, sending Under Secretary Burns to Europe to consult further underscores the point I made in my speech about how Europe is now the global partner of the United States. That’s what I meant by emphasizing cooperation with Europe on that point.

Finally, Georgia. You raised two aspects. You referenced occupation and the Georgian feeling of security.

Yes, Secretary Clinton referred to Russian occupation of Georgia. We don’t know what else to call it. We respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We believe that Russia used disproportionate force and remains present in what we consider to be sovereign Georgia. So it’s not meant to be a particular provocation, it’s just a description of what we think the situation is and we’ve very active in the Geneva talks and bilaterally with Russia to try to bring about an end to what we consider to be a military occupation.

I don’t think there’s a basis, you referenced feelings of abandonment. I really don’t think there’s a basis for that, and had good talks in Tbilisi just last week on our bilateral relationship.

As I mentioned in my speech, the United States after the 2008 war gave a billion dollars to Georgia which is not an insignificant amount of money. We launched a Strategic Partnership Commission that has met several times including at the secretarial level with Secretary Clinton’s involvement. She has travelled to Georgia. The Vice President has traveled to Georgia. The Deputy Secretary has travelled to Georgia. I’ve been five times to Georgia. They come to us regularly. The Georgian Foreign Minister was in Washington last week. I think we have an intensive and active bilateral relationship. We raise Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity directly with the Russians pretty much every time we see them. We don’t hesitate to do that. We’re clear that we view it as an occupation. And as I said when I talked about our desire to work more closely with Russia, I also underscored that we have some differences with Russia. We’re not shy about expressing them. And one of them is Georgia, and I think we’ve managed to have a better relationship with Russia in lots of important ways but without, as I said here, sacrificing our principles or our friends. Georgia is one of our friends and there are some important principles involved in that relationship.

Moderator: Thank you very much. Thank you for your speech and for those answers, Mr. Gordon. Thank you for your friendship and leadership. Thank you for coming such a long way from Washington and Sofia to GlobSec Bratislava Global Security Forum. I think you deserve a big applause.

Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thank you very much.