The U.S. "Very
Impressed" by Saakashvili's Commitment to Fight Corruption
Remarks by U.S. Secretary
of State Colin L. Powell And Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
After Their Meeting. February 25, 2004, Blair
House, Washington, D.C. 3:30 p.m. EST).
Sources: Department of State and Embassy of the United
States, Tbilisi, Georgia. (AP
President Saakashvili: Well, we had just perfect meeting
(inaudible) Secretary. I had a feeling that I would be meeting with somebody
whom I've known only for the last hundred years. But of course, he's a great
friend of Georgia. We have very good cooperation, especially in the fight
against terrorism and security matters. Also, the main thing on democracy
matters, and I think that Georgia is part of a lynchpin of the wider Middle East
as well as greater Europe. And we are here among friends and we are proud to be
among friends. I believe countries like Georgia can also greatly contribute to
international fight against terrorism because we have people on the ground in
Iraq and we are proud of it. And we are going to expand our involvement in Iraq.
Secretary Powell: I'd just like to say to the President how
pleased we are to have him here in Washington. He had very good meetings with
the President earlier today and with other of my colleagues in the course of his
visit. And as he said, I feel very much at home with him. I spent inauguration
day with the President. It's a day I'll never forget, as he gave a new vision to
the people of Georgia.
In our conversation today, we talked about further areas of
cooperation. We talked about how we are both in touch with our Russian friends
to let them know that this is not an area or place for competition but a place
for cooperation. And I'm pleased that things are coming along so well.
I thank the President again for the contribution that
Georgian troops are making to our efforts in Iraq and I look forward to more of
them participating in that effort. And we're looking forward to the
parliamentary elections that will be taking place next month.
So Mr. President, again, welcome. It's always a pleasure to
President Saakashvili: Thank you very much.
Secretary Powell: Thank you again for the hospitality on
President Saakashvili: Thanks a lot.
Question: Mr. Secretary, the French Foreign Minister says an
emergency force should go to Haiti immediately. How do you feel about that? And
do you still feel Aristide belongs in power?
Secretary Powell: Well, I haven't seen or heard the French
Foreign Minister's statement. I spoke to him earlier today and we, I think,
agree that a political process should be found to move forward. Anything that is
done, we should do it in a constitutional way and we're examining all the
political alternatives. I have not heard a statement about a force going in
immediately without a political basis upon which to go in. And so I expect to be
talking to Minister de Villepin again later today.
Question: Mr. Powell, what role does the UN have in reference to
Haiti? Are you going to talk to the UN about a possible security force? Do you
need their permission, the Security Council?
Secretary Powell: Members of CARICOM, foreign ministers of
CARICOM, a number of them are in New York this afternoon. And they'll be
discussing this with my representatives in New York as well as with other
members of the Security Council. Whether it is appropriate for the UN to take
action at this time or wait until there is a political process underway or
political resolution in play that the UN can support I think is what they'll be
talking about. And I'll just have to wait and see how those conversations go.
Question: Thank you.
Question: (Inaudible) in Georgia. (Inaudible) in the fight
Secretary Powell: I'm very impressed by the President's
commitment to fight corruption. You can't have corruption in a democratic
society. People won't believe in a society if the people believe that their
public officials are not honest in representing them. If a society does not rest
on the rule of law, then you really can't have a democracy. The President
understands that. He and I have spoken about it on a number of occasions. He
discussed it with President Bush today. And I'm confident that under the
President's leadership, the rule of law will be the rule of law for all
Georgians and corruption will be rooted out. And I've also heard the Minister of
Justice speak about it, and I know that is the President's personal commitment
and we'll do everything we can to support it.
Question: And (inaudible), excuse me, did you discuss any
questions about financial assistance for Georgia?
Secretary Powell: We discussed all of the issues of interest to
both sides, financial assistance as well as other assistance we might be
providing to our Georgian friends as they put in place this new democracy. It is
really an exciting time in U.S.-Georgian relations and we're going to do
everything we can to help the new government.
Question: Thank you, sir.
Question: Mr. Secretary, when can we know the exact dates of
withdrawal of Russian (inaudible) from Georgia?
Secretary Powell: I can't give you an answer. That's something
that will have to be worked out between Georgia and Russia.