Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: I’m very pleased to be here today for the Fifth Annual Corporate Responsibility Award. This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize civil society organizations that are working to improve the situation for the people in their communities. These can be issues like public health, it can be environment, it can be access for the disabled, it’s a whole range of issues that these groups of citizens are working on to improve the conditions for the citizens of Georgia in their communities. The United States Embassy is very happy to support this through USAID in including the aspect of businesses working with civil society, combining their resources, and their creative thinking to come up with solutions to some of the issues and problems that the people of Georgia are most concerned about. So I’m delighted to be here today. Thank you.
Question about Zelenskyy sanctioning Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family members and if the US is going to join the sanctions
Ambassador Degnan: I think that’s a question that really should be posed to President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government. And as I’ve said before, the United States does not preview our sanctions process. If we impose sanctions on anyone, we do it publicly and it is posted on a website. But we do not preview our sanctions.
Question about who initiated the changes to Prosecutor General’s selection process in the April 19th Agreement
Ambassador Degnan: All of the elements of the April 19th agreement were developed by the political leaders that were participating in the dialogue. I know judicial reform was a heavily debated and discussed part of the agreement. All of the elements were either proposed by the political leaders themselves or they were drawn from existing Venice Commission or ODHIR opinions that had not been fulfilled. These came out of hours and hours of negotiations among the political leaders themselves at the table. So, it wasn’t that someone came and dropped down this idea. This developed as the result of parties negotiating with each other, but the elements of it were drawn from Venice Commission recommendations based on best practices. The Venice Commission is composed of European legal experts who study the best practices of all the member states and oftentimes of the world on different legal issues. That’s why we have considered it so important for Georgia to submit the draft legislation related to these 12 recommendations to the Venice Commission and ODHIR for their review. The most important goal here is to achieve candidate status. That is what the Georgian people have consistently said that they want. And so every step along the way, now that candidate status is so close, should be taken to ensure that the draft laws that are being generated by this process meet European Union’s standards. The best way to determine that is to submit them to the Venice Commission, to ODHIR, to these experts on European laws and standards for them to evaluate and provide feedback to Georgia so that Georgia knows that the laws that it’s adopting are, in fact, consistent with European Union standards and practices. That is the way that Georgia is going to achieve candidate status. This government and other political leaders have made fulfilling that commitment to get candidate status a top priority and promise to the people of Georgia, because it has been such a clear choice of the people of Georgia, for so long, to be a part of the European Union, to be a part of NATO, to be fully integrated into the European Family of Nations.