Ambassador Degnan Media Comments at CDC IDASH Program Launch Workshop
Comment about CDC event “Informatics and Data Science for Health (IDASH) Program”
Ambassador Degnan: We are really excited today because this is the first phase of an exciting initiative that involves five different countries from the region in coordination with the United States Center for Disease Control, WHO/Europe, and the University of Washington I-Tech. This initiative is designed to better integrate data into making public health decisions to protect all of our health. This is basically bringing the power of big data into public health, research, analytics, and decision-making to keep all of us healthier and safer. So, we’re really thrilled with this first phase of 20 fellows who are completing their training today and will have another round of training following this. These first fellows will then be the mentors for the next group of fellows that will be coming behind them and on and on. So, it’s a wonderful program and we’re delighted to be able to do this here in Georgia.
Question about the BBC Investigation and David Kezerashvili
Ambassador Degnan: Well, as I’ve said before, we don’t preview our sanctions. This is, though, a good example of how important investigative journalism, investigations by authorities, are to provide the kind of information, both public source and non-publicly disclosed information that forms the basis for these kinds of measures. Obviously, we go through our own very rigorous, thorough process to evaluate information before taking any kind of step like this. And something like the BBC investigation is an important component. I would hope that again Georgian authorities have the opportunity to investigate their own allegations, their own investigation into allegations like this. And this is the kind of information that can be a part of that. Thank you.
Question about the misinterpretation of the term “sanction” in Georgian
Ambassador Degnan: As I’ve said, whatever term you use, the consequence is the same. These visa designations mean that the designated individuals and their immediate non-US citizen family members are not eligible to enter the United States.
Question about the sharing evidence
Ambassador Degnan: On the question of sharing information, the basis of this is from a variety of information sources, including some publicly available information. If the Georgian authorities want to open their own investigation to these allegations, much of the information is known and has been widely known for years. I am confident that any credible independent investigation would come to the same result.
Question about the meeting between the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and the Sanctions Coordinator of the US
Ambassador Degnan: On the question about the Ministry of Finance meeting with our Sanctions Coordinator – we have been working very closely with the Georgian authorities for a year now since this began to share information about the trade flow that’s going through Georgia. We have had very good cooperation from the Georgian authorities, the Customs and Revenue Service, border patrol, all of whom we’ve been close partners for many, many years, doing training, and providing equipment. And all of this is proving to be especially valuable right now when it is so important to be monitoring what is coming across Georgia’s borders. We’ve had very, very good cooperation from the Georgian authorities at this critical time. The meeting between the Minister of Finance and our Sanctions Coordinator was focused on this because as this Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine goes on, we are learning more and more about how Russia is trying to evade sanctions and evade export control regulations, not just the United States, but also those imposed the European Union, by Japan, by the UK. So, this is an important part of our partnership to continue to share information and to tighten our controls in order to stop the flow of goods that are being used by Russia’s war machine against Ukraine. And we’ve had very good cooperation from the Georgian authorities on this point.