Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks Following Meetings at Parliament

Question about the Ambassador’s meetings

Ambassador Degnan:  Today was a good opportunity to meet with the new Speaker of Parliament and to hear about his priorities for the upcoming legislative session. It was also an opportunity to talk with the chairman of the ruling party and hear their priorities for the coming session. We were very glad to hear that at the top of the agenda is further judicial reforms, harmonizing Georgia’s law with the European Union as part of the fulfilling the Association Agenda; and also, the Summit for Democracy pledges that Georgia made in connection with President Biden’s Summit for Democracies. So, a very busy agenda for the legislature. We also discussed the situation in Ukraine with the tensions and the security threat that Russia has created in the region, and Russia’s aggressive attempts to destabilize European security with the threat of force.  Obviously, this is a pivotal moment, a very important moment for Georgia and for the region, and for all of us in upholding the fundamental principles—international principles that have kept Europe peaceful and prosperous for the past 30 years plus. So, very important discussions and topics, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with both Speaker Papuashvili and Mr. Kobakhidze about their priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Question about domestic political issues and Russia’s threat to Georgia

Ambassador Degnan:  As I mentioned, we discussed a number of issues, including the priorities for the ruling party for the upcoming legislative session. I was glad to hear that the constitutional amendments are also on the agenda as well, and I would say we would see this is an opportunity for all of Georgia’s political leaders to get to work on the priority issues facing this country:  both externally in the threat that Russia is creating, as well as the internal challenges of the economic recovery, the COVID situation, and many social issues.  We are very proud to be working with Georgia on a number of these issues like energy security, education, and of course, the COVID response and economic recovery. So, a variety of issues, including the constitutional amendments, including other issues of importance to Georgian society.

Question about the cancellation of the state security services

Ambassador Degnan:  I think I’ve provided enough detail about our discussions. You also asked also about the situation in Ukraine. Obviously, the situation that Russia has created is a crisis of its own making. We are still in the process of discussions with Russia to identify what is really driving it—what is really behind Russia’s aggressive actions toward Ukraine. We have included Georgia in all of our consultations, and we will remain in very close communication and coordination with Georgia because this impacts not just Georgia and Ukraine: it impacts, as I said, the fundamental principles that have kept European security stable and allowed European countries, including Georgia, to experience unprecedented economic growth.  That is our objective: to protect those principles that ensure our way of life, those we all cherish: with an emphasis on freedom, with an emphasis on liberty, with an emphasis on so many of the rights that are guaranteed in Georgia’s constitution, as well as in the United States constitution. That is what is at issue here. Our goal in the United States is to resolve this diplomatically, and that is why Secretary Blinken will be meeting tomorrow in Geneva with Foreign Minister Lavrov. That is why Secretary Blinken is meeting today in Berlin with European allies and partners, and that is why we will continue to sit at the table with Russia and listen to their concerns and try to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis that Russia has created. Thank you.