Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks at Georgian Media Partnership Program

Question about the event

Ambassador Degnan:  We’re here today to recognize the participants in the Georgian Media Partnership Program, which is one of the flagship media support programs of the U.S. Embassy.  The Georgia Media Partnership Program has trained over 151 journalists at 16 different TV outlets throughout Georgia over the past 10 years. Tonight, we’re honoring six of the online platform participants. This is a particularly important program to help regional journalists and media managers develop their technical and reporting skills and explore new ways of getting accurate information out to the public.  It’s involved partnership with counterparts—stations in the United States: in Boston, New Mexico, Ohio, and throughout the country.  It’s been very successful, as we saw tonight, with the presentations where we saw the regional media outlets serve their public, in providing information about the issues that matter to those local communities. This is particularly important in Georgia where the public has limited access to accurate balanced, impartial reporting. We’ve seen in regional journalistic outlets that high standard of journalism that is very impressive. This program has been excellent in taking that relationship, networking between Georgian and American journalists, to a new level.  So, we’re very excited about what the Georgian Media Partnership Program has done tonight. We were here to recognize those participants.

Question on the government’s role in preventing disinformation

Ambassador Degnan:  Oh, that’s a very important question. And very concerning. We too are watching that with great concern. The amount of disinformation that is bombarding the public, in this region in particular, but in many other regions as well, is very concerning. The role of regional media becomes even more important in informing the public about this disinformation and making sure that they have accurate information to understand that this is pro-Russian disinformation trying to mislead the public, confuse the public, and divide Georgians. That history is very clear here in Georgia, about what Russia means for Georgia. All you have to do is look across the Administrative Boundary Line, the ABL, to see what Russia has in mind. If Russia were sincere about anything that we’re saying, it would remove its forces and equipment from the occupied territories and return Tskhinvali and Abkhazia to the Georgian territory. So, I think this is an area where regional media are particularly important because you need to present accurate information to the regions about what is true and what is completely false disinformation. The government has an important role as well, where the constitution includes language about fighting back against pro-Russian influences that are trying to destabilize your country, and I think that was to protect Georgian citizens from a past you know very well. The path to Europe that the United States is trying to support Georgia in reaching is a path to peace, to security, to stability, and to prosperity.  I think that has been clear from the last 30 years of support from the United States and other friends of Georgia. We want to help Georgia succeed as a stable, peaceful, prosperous democracy, where people’s freedoms are respected. That’s what the West stands for. I think Georgians know exactly what Russia stands for. Thank you.