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Ambassador Degnan's Remarks to Media at the 4th of July Celebration
June 29, 2023

Ambassador Degnan's Remarks to Media at the 4th of July Celebration

Question about direct flights and the effect on sanctions enforcement

Ambassador Degnan:  Well, first let me welcome you all. We’re very honored to have so many of our dear friends here to celebrate the 247th Birthday of America, and we are delighted to be surrounded by Georgians who also value freedom, independence, and are willing to defend it. I think that’s what we’re talking about with the sanctions. We’re talking about stopping component parts and other materials that are helping Russia continue to kill people on the battlefields of Ukraine. The sanctions coordinator made it very clear that we really value the cooperation and partnership with the agencies here in Georgia, many of whom we’ve worked with for many years: Customs and Revenue Service, Border Police, and many others who are doing their best to control and monitor what goes in and out of Georgia. We all know that this is a very challenging task. The other message that the sanction coordinator brought was that it requires constant vigilance. There is pressure from Russia to get these parts, and one way is through a neighboring country like Georgia. So, the message is: Thank you for that partnership and cooperation in trying to stop the flow of these component parts that are deadly on the battlefield; and please continue with vigilance as we see Russia try to find new ways to evade sanctions and export controls.

Question about violence against those who are critical of the ruling party

Ambassador Degnan:  Obviously, violence is unacceptable, and I think we’ve heard that as well. Mayor Kaladze and some others have acknowledged that violence is unacceptable. If the party chairman is going to make an accusation like that, I would think he would have at least to say who he’s talking about. If not, then it is only rumors and more conspiracy theories being thrown out to confuse the public. What is important here is that this violence seems to be a trend; and I think that’s very dangerous and worrisome for Georgians who have experienced that kind of seemingly coordinated violence in the past. I think it would be very helpful if Georgia’s leaders from all political parties, all walks of life, made it very clear that violence is unacceptable and condemned these attacks very clearly. It’s also important that in addition to arresting people who have admitted to committing violence on their social media accounts, that there is a transparent investigation and then that there’s prosecution. There need to be consequences so that society sees that this kind of violence will not be tolerated in their society. So, I think it would be very helpful and important for Georgia’s leaders to make that very clear, all of them.