The Bush administration is expected to announce a financial package of almost seven hundred million euros to help rebuild war-torn Georgia. The aid comes, as US Vice-President Dick Cheney visits Azerbaijan as part of a tour to show support for key allies in the Black sea region. Cheney will also visit Ukraine and Georgia during the trip.
The oil rich region is seen as strategically important to the west as it attempts to become less dependent on Russian energy supplies. Aimed at rebuilding essential infrastructure destroyed in the brief war with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the money will stretch over several years. The EU, which stopped short of imposing sanctions, also announced it’s to give aid:
‘‘We have immediately given humanitarian aid and this was of course the most urgent and most important, and that we will be doing so also in the future,’‘ said Benita Ferrero Waldner, EU Minister of External Relations. “Indeed, member states and us together for the moment have been and we are continuing to do so, disposed of 15 million Euros on that,’‘ she said.
Meanwhile, Russia closed its embassy in Tbilisi after Georgia cut diplomatic ties with Moscow. On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said it was time for Washington to re-evaluate its policy support for Geogia and its pro-western President Mikheil Saakashvili.