National Press Club

Georgian Security Advisor Wants Focus on Russian Troops

March 6, 2009 | By Peter Hickman

Eka Tkeshelashvili, national security advisor to the president of Georgia, after a Newsmaker event.

Eka Tkeshelashvili, national security advisor to the president of Georgia, after a Newsmaker event.

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

The Georgian government wants the "engagement of the international community," Georgian national security advisor Eka Tkeshelashvili, told a March 5 Newsmaker. She called it "the key" to solving the "problem of Russian military forces in my country."

When Georgia tried to retake its breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August following clashes with Russian-baked rebels, Russia counterattacked, Georgian troops were ejected and Russian forces remain in the regions.

Tkeshelashvili, who has a master of law degree from the Univiersity of Notre Dame and was most recently minister of foreign affairs of Georgia, said the U.S. should be supportive of Georgia's position on the Russian troop matter for several reasons: to "keep its options open in the neighborhood," to help spread democracy and to maintain an open "East-West corridor."

She said Vice President Joe Biden discussed these "issues of vital interest to both countries" with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili when the two leaders met in Munich, adding that Georgia wants a "constructive dialogue" with Moscow on the troop matter. Tkeshelashvili also said Georgia wants to bring itself economically "closer in line" with European countries, and that the country is proceeding with democratic reforms.