Mar 30, 2010

Georgian Ambassador makes visits

by Crystal A. Heavner

He sees his country as a success story for a free economy and a freedom fighter like the United States. Georgian Ambassador Batu Kutelia visited the Helms School of Government on Thursday, March 25.

Kutelia lunched with several Liberty faculty members and received a tour of the university’s campus. The ambassador also spoke to students and faculty in two sessions, held in the Helms School Suite. Each session included a speech, question-and-answer session, photo opportunity and refreshments.

The event was coordinated by Pi Sigma Alpha, Liberty’s national political science honor society and the Helms School of Government. In May 2007, professor of government Dr. Stephen Bowers, met Kutelia, who was then Georgian Minister of Defense, during a visit to the country.

Bowers asked Kutelia to come talk to students because he believed the students would profit from gaining “an immediate understanding of what is happening in the contemporary world from someone who is involved.” He wanted to create an atmosphere where they could ask direct questions of the ambassador.

There is “a natural relationship (between the) university and Christians with Georgia which is a Christian country, a western ally and very pro-American,” Bowers said.

Kutelia spoke primarily on the importance of the U.S.-Georgia relationship. The number one factor he cited in this alliance is that “we share the same values. We are freedom fighters.”

The smallness of Georgia and the fact it is a democratic country in a non-democratic environment are reasons for the importance of their relationship with America.

“Right now the United States presents the only deterring factor to keep our enemies (at bay),” Kutelia said.

He said Georgia is a success story as a nation that was once under the communist clench of Russia but is now a model of free economy for neighboring nations. They are “creating a path for others to join us and find their own place,” Kutelia said.

Kutelia emphasized the Georgian desire for membership in NATO and the European Union. Georgia wants to have a voice of opinion in world affairs and raise support for their cause against Russia.

“We cannot solve this alone,” Kutelia said about Russian involvement in occupying and supplying weapons to separatist groups in the two Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Kutelia then answered questions from the attendees. There were questions on the foreign policy of Georgia toward neighboring countries like Iran and Israel, the attitudes of the Georgian people toward the United States and joining NATO and the European Union, the influence of Russia and communism on the current Georgian society, the Georgian education system and current events pertaining to Georgia.

After the question-and-answer session, students got the chance to talk to the ambassador and have their picture taken with him.
“I got a chance to meet him and was really impressed with him and with how Georgia has dealt with how Russia has impeded them,” Liberty sophomore and strategic intelligence major Andrew Neber said.

Neber plans to work with the Ukraine and because both Georgia and the Ukraine, which is also a former Soviet country, he found the ambassador’s visit helpful.

“I really appreciate that he came here,” Neber said.

Contact Crystal Heavner at
cheavner@liberty.edu.


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