Ambassador Degnan’s media comments at the reception to celebrate the official birthday of King Charles III
Q-n about the supreme court’s decision to keep Nika Gvaramia in prison.
Ambassador Degnan: Of course, we are very disappointed in the decision. From the very beginning, the United States has expressed our concerns about this case, about the timing of the arrest, about the charges themselves, and of course, about the sentence that was issued. As we have said many times, even the perception of interference in a judicial decision like this, political interference undermines Georgia’s system of justice, undermines the public’s confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary, which is so essential to a strong and healthy democracy. We were of course hoping that the Supreme Court would see the problems with this case and come to a more reasoned decision. They have made their decision and, of course, we are quite disappointed.
Q-n about 12 conditions to get the EU candidate status, and the question to “judge” the European Commission’s report expected to come out this week
Ambassador Degnan: Of course, I am not in a position to judge the report with the European Commission’s assessment of progress. I am sure that they will make a very careful evaluation of the work that has gone on here, of how inclusive the process has been or has not been, and then how much progress has been made on these very specific 12 recommendations. I think the fact that the Venice Commission has issued opinions both on the amendments to the law common courts, on the deoligarchization law. Giving very clear and specific guidance about what is needed to fulfill the expectations is a sign of how committed the European Union is to Georgia’s success in this process. Here is a very clear guidance on the steps that are needed. And, if the Parliament takes those steps it brings Georgia that much closer to where we all want Georgia to be, which is receiving that positive candidate status in December.
Q-n anti-western rhetoric, and allegations of the People’s Power as if the U.S. were supporting protests
Ambassador Degnan: I will say, Georgia was polarized when I arrived here three and a half years ago. There have been efforts to bring Georgia together. I think we all recognize that the more Georgia is divided the only one that benefits is Russia, and it is Russian disinformation and pro-Russian disinformation that has continued to confuse and divide this country over the past three and a half years. This is very dangerous, Georgians know this tactic, you have lived with Russian attempts to fracture, confuse, frighten the population for many many decades. What I would hope is that again there is an effort to come together not only for this incredible opportunity to move closer to European integration, the clear choice of the majority of Georgian people, but also, in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This is the time for the Georgian people to come together, to really live up to your motion of ძალა ერთობაშია power is in unity. It is not hard to listen to each other to accept that there are different opinions. The United States has had 30 years of supporting Georgia’s efforts to build your democracy, which includes supporting civil society, that includes supporting a free, robust, responsible media. Everyone has a part to play here: politicians, the media, journalists, and civil society to put the interests of Georiga first, to put political fight aside. Politicians will say what they have to say, we all know that there are political games that are played often in front of the cameras. But, really, this is the time to put Georgia’s interests first. The United States wants more than anything to see Georgia succeed, to succeed in your efforts to become a member of the European Union, to become a member of NATO. The most important element of that is coming together and working for Georgia’s future together- ძალა ერთობაშია.