Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: I’m delighted to be back in Kvareli, this time for the opening of the American Shelf’s beautiful new location. This community project goes to show what we can do when we work together. I want to thank the mayor and the local government for their support; the business community here in Kvareli was also so supportive of this initiative; and, of course, all of the members of the community who have visited and who breathe life into our American Spaces—here and all throughout Georgia. This American Shelf is a place where people can come and learn more about the United States. They can improve their English language skills. They can learn about employment and education opportunities. They can join discussion clubs and learn about human rights, which I think is particularly fitting here in Ilia Chavchavadze’s home city. This is a place where young people and old can develop their leadership skills, can try out business opportunities, and think through business ideas to become entrepreneurs. It’s a place where they can learn about media literacy. There are so many different initiatives here through our wonderfully talented Georgian coordinator, Nika. I encourage everybody to come down and visit the new American Shelf here in the Euro-Atlantic Center in Kvareli.
Question about de-oligarchization law submitted to Venice Commission
Ambassador Degnan: What is important is the European Union’s strong advice to Georgia to submit the Georgian legislation to the Venice Commission for review. That is the best way to know that the Georgian legislation addresses the situation here in Georgia, which was the subject of the 12 recommendations. This is a very complex and new area of law. There isn’t “a one size fits all” approach to it. That’s why the United States agrees with the European Union’s strong advice to Georgia to submit the Georgian legislation for Venice Commission review.
Question about Anaklia port during Secretary Pompeo’s visit
Ambassador Degnan: The United States has been a strong supporter Anaklia deep water port for years because we think that it can be a very important contribution to Georgia’s orientation to the Black Sea. We can all see now that if Anaklia had been completed last year as was originally planned, it would be a huge contribution as Georgia develops its role in the middle corridor, bringing goods from Central Asia through to Europe. This is critical infrastructure for Georgia to development develop, and that’s why the United States has been encouraging the development of an Anaklia port for quite some time. My understanding is there are a number of global qualified port operators that are interested in Anaklia, and that the government plans to move forward with a tender early next year. Of course, we think that Anaklia will bring not only a big contribution to Georgia’s economy, but also will create some good jobs for Georgians in that region and beyond. So, we remain big supporters of the development of Anaklia deep water port, done in a way that is in the best interests of the country of Georgia, and that protects Georgia’s critical infrastructure.