Ambassador Kelly Degnan: I’m very happy to have the chance to come to Pankisi Gorge to finally be able to meet some of the people here that the United States embassy has been working with on different projects. I had the chance to talk with the Elder Council, with the Senior Women’s Council, and with a number of young people who are living here to learn more about what’s going on in this region, and about some of the challenges that they’ve faced, and also some of the incredibly impressive things that they’re doing. The United States is really very proud to be able–privileged to be able to work with our partners in the Pankisi Gorge and Duisi in particular, and we hope to continue our support on projects in the future as well.
Q-n about the main topics of discussion at the meetings
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: Well, we’re all very concerned about what’s going on in Ukraine. And I think first and foremost, everybody’s hearts and prayers and thoughts are with the people in Ukraine who are suffering under a completely unprovoked unnecessary war that was started by the Kremlin. And it’s heartbreaking when people here have lived through the war of 2008 in Georgia, the war in Chechnya. All these memories are very fresh and very painful for the people here, and I felt that. We also talked about some of the particular challenges that people face here in terms of starting businesses, having hope for the future, and the point about a number of people leaving the region because they don’t see a future here. And again, that’s an area where I think the United States and other friends of Georgia, this region in particular, want to support those who are trying to get businesses going here, trying to improve education for young people and give people a reason to stay in this beautiful part of Georgia.