Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks After Observing Elections in Marneuli

Ambassador Degnan gives remarks to media in Marneuli
Ambassador Degnan gives remarks to the media in Marneuli

Question about observation experience and Ambassador’s assessments

Ambassador Kelly C. Degnan: This is a very important day for Georgia and I am very pleased to be able to participate as an election observer. I am visiting some precincts here in Marneuli and I came here last October so it is good to come back and see that there are voters out despite the weather. People are out, voting, they are taking their responsibility as citizens seriously. This is the opportunity for voters to have their voices heard by casting their ballots at the ballot box. This is how citizens hold their leaders accountable, how they express their priorities, if it is a free and fair election, it is fundamental to a true democracy. So, the embassy has 47 teams all over Georgia, over a hundred of our employees are participating as observers. We also have people working in the embassy, following the media reports, consulting with international and domestic observers, so we are following this very closely. And Washington is following very closely, I’ve been getting lots of requests from them, from my colleagues in Washington, including at the State Department, at the White House, in Congress: they’re following this closely as well. We are concerned by the reports of pre-election intimidation and violations and abuses, harassment. What I’m pleased to see is that the party leaders are calling for calm today. That’s obviously very important so that people can come out and safely cast their ballots. We had some reports of local observers at various precincts around the country who don’t seem to know which NGOs they are working for, or what their roles are.  That’s a little concerning, but that could also just be a lack of training. So, we’ll continue to follow during the day events all over Georgia. It is a very important day. I would just encourage people to please wear your mask but come out and vote. Thank you!

Question about October 1 events related to Mikheil Saakashvili

Ambassador Kelly C. Degnan: Talking about yesterday isn’t as important as talking about going forward. We want people to be focused on the election, on the issues. I think Georgia needs more political stability and not more polarization. There are really important issues that this country needs to deal with like jobs and high prices and COVID, education, water, roads. We really hope that after these elections, Georgia’s political leaders are going to get back to work on the issues that are the priorities for the Georgian public. Mr. Saakashvili’s case will be a test of the Georgian judicial system, and we’ll be watching to see if the case is handled impartially and in accordance with Georgian law and Georgia’s international obligations. That’s what we would hope to see going forward.
Thank you very much!