•  Mr. Speaker, the National Council of Georgia declared Georgia's independence on May 26, 1918. After 117 years, the statehood of Georgia was finally restored. But Georgia's fight for independence was not over.

  • In February 1921, Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was no more.

  • Now the Georgia Soviet Socialist Republic, Georgia was in the midst of World War II. Georgia contributed almost 700,000 fighters, and provided vital textiles and munitions to the Allies.

  • For the next 46 years, the Soviets occupied Georgia but Georgia was not complacent with Soviet rule. After the Soviet Union fell apart, Georgia finally became free again.

  • Since regaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has been a steadfast U.S. strategic partner in an important and often turbulent part of the world.

  • But a certain country to the north does not like the fact that we are friends. In fact, the Napoleon of Siberia--as I like to call Putin--is set on breaking U.S. apart and restoring the glory days of the Soviet Union.

  • As a country that continues to struggle against Russia's tyranny, Georgia knows better than anyone the threat Putin poses. Mr. Putin cannot be allowed to invade another sovereign country. The best way to stand up to Russia is to stand up together, as we have done so many times before.

  • From the American perspective, there are few NATO strategic partners as capable and committed as Georgia. Georgia has been a key ally in our war on terror. Georgia's soldiers have stood shoulder to shoulder with ours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Georgia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the mission in Afghanistan. It has also served as a key logistical hub bringing troops and supplies in and out of the region. We have in turn, demonstrated our commitment to our relationship with the U.S.-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership.

  • Since the signing of the Charter, the United States and Georgia have strengthened their mutual cooperation. Cooperation based on U.S. support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its commitment to further democratic and economic reforms.

  • I would like to see the U.S. be more vocally supportive of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations and provide a clear path to its eventual membership in NATO.

  • In February, Representative KEATING and I proudly introduced a bill that affirms the U.S. Government's support for Georgia's eventual membership in NATO. It also calls on the Obama administration and our allies in Europe to formally extend to Georgia a Membership Action Plan at this year's NATO Summit in Wales.

  • We must stand with those who have stood with us. We must honor independence by preserving independence. Together, I believe the United States and Georgia can help all peoples of the world hold on to the sweet taste of freedom.

  • And that's just the way it is.