Ambassador Degnan’s Media Engagement on the Sidelines of Tbilisi Photo Festival

Q-n on the event

Ambassador Degnan:  I’m very pleased to be here tonight at the opening of the Tbilisi Photo Festival. The United States Embassy is supporting this really stunning photography exhibit of Georgian American and European photographers over the last century. I think it’s worth coming here and spending some time to really absorb these powerful, sometimes painful, very emotional photographs taken by these wonderful artists from our regions. Please come down and see the exhibit.

Q-n on Former President Saakashvili

Ambassador Degnan:  Of course we’re all very concerned about Mr. Saakashvili’s wellbeing. I think when you’re talking about matters of health, it’s important to defer to the qualified medical experts. And I’m glad to see that there is a multidisciplinary team that is monitoring these conditions, and we are also closely monitoring his condition.

Q-n on the elections

Ambassador Degnan:  I hope that voters will have confidence, will be able to have confidence in the outcome of these elections. Obviously they aren’t going to be perfect, but I think we saw last year that this kind of unstable and divisive, polarized political situation distracts the whole country from both political progress, as well as economic progress in dealing with COVID and other challenges facing this country.

There are many ways to fight if you feel that there are injustices, and we have strongly encouraged that that kind of fight take place in the institutions that Georgia is building–the democratic institution Georgia is building, like parliament. That is the place to fight the fight for change in our view. And I sincerely hope that that’s where the Georgian voters who are voting for their officials to get to work on behalf of their country will make their voices heard.  Thank you.

Q-n on a Ukrainian journalist and Mikheil Saakashvili’s lawyer denied entry to Georgia

Ambassador Degnan:  No, I’m sorry. I have been in meetings pretty much all day, and I just don’t have enough information about that to comment.

Q-n on GD’s rally

Ambassador Degnan:  Well, I have to say, I think it’s a little risky to be having big rallies when Georgia has a really such a high number of COVID cases right now, by any political party.  This doesn’t seem like a good time to be bringing large groups of people together.  That said, there’s a constitutional right to gather, to assemble, to express your views peacefully. And the key word here is “peacefully.”  And we’re heading into these last few days of what has been a long and very contentious election.  We just urge voters, supporters–please stay calm.  The calls for calm from political leaders on all sides have been very responsible and important. And I hope that supporters will allow voters to come out on a Saturday in a calm environment to cast their votes. And that’s what we’re hoping for. Thank you.