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U.S. Department of State Background Note

Georgia

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Georgia

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

President -- Mikheil Saakashvili
Prime Minister -- Zurab Noghaideli
Speaker of Parliament -- Nino Burjanadze
Foreign Minister -- Gela Bezhuashvilii
Defense Minister -- David Kezerashvili
Interior Minister -- Vano Merabishvili
State Minister of Georgia for Conflict Resolution -- David Bakradze
Ambassador to the United States -- Vasil Sikharulidze

Georgia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2209 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 387-2390, fax (202) 393-4537.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In January of 2005, Georgian President Saakashvili put forth a proposal to give autonomous status to South Ossetia within Georgia. The United States welcomed President Saakashvili's initiative to resolve the conflict through peaceful means and continues to look for ways to encourage a lasting resolution of the conflict. An alternative leader in South Ossetia emerged in November 2006, when ethnic Georgian Dmitry Sanakoyev was elected in an unrecognized, de facto presidential election by the ethnic Georgian population. Sanakoyev has set up an alternative government in Kurta, South Ossetia.

The United States supports the territorial integrity of Georgia and supports only a peaceful resolution of the separatist conflict in South Ossetia that defines the status of South Ossetia within Georgia's internationally recognized borders, while affording South Ossetia significant autonomy within a unified Georgia. The United States views Georgia's autonomy proposal as an important step in a peace process that should be marked by direct and frequent negotiations between the two sides. International donors, including the United States, launched an economic rehabilitation project in 2006 to help establish a peaceful and prosperous future for South Ossetia within Georgia. For more information on the separatist conflict in Georgia's South Ossetia region, see the Department of State's Fact Sheet on South Ossetia http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/fs/53721.htm.

ECONOMY

Georgia's location between the Black Sea, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey gives it importance as a transport corridor far beyond its size. It is developing as the gateway from the Black Sea to the Caucasus and the Caspian basin. Following Russian bans on imports of Georgian wine, water, and agricultural products, and the severing of transportation links in 2006, Georgia has reached out to other neighbors and to the West to diversify its export markets. It signed a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union, and in 2006 signed an action plan under the European Union's European Neighborhood Policy for reforms aimed at building a closer relationship with the EU. Georgia participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. In September 2006, Georgia was granted Intensified Dialogue with NATO to formalize discussions on Georgia's membership aspirations. In addition, Georgia has reached out to a number of countries that have expressed interest in investing in the country. China, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine, as well as a number of European Union countries (including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) maintain embassies in Tbilisi. Georgia is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development-GUAM.

U.S.-GEORGIA RELATIONS

Ambassador-- John F. TefftDeputy Chief of Mission--Mark Perry
USAID Director--Robert J. Wilson
Political/Economic/Commercial Affairs--Bridget Brink
Public Affairs--Cynthia Whittlesey
Defense Attaché--Matthew Brand
Management Counselor--John Bernlohr
Regional Security Officer--John Galido

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia is located at 11 George Balanchine Street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0131, telephone (995 32) 27-70-00, fax (995 32) 53-23-10.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

Revised: Aug. 2007

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