Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: Well, we’re here today for a conference organized by USAID and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on renewable energy and investment. For 30 years, the United States has been working with Georgia to develop its clean, reliable, renewable, affordable energy. This is very important for Georgia’s economic development to ensure that Georgia is more independent in its energy and not relying on imported energy supplies. Renewable energy and the expansion of investment in renewable energy also helps Georgia meet its climate commitments, which is increasingly important for all of our countries. Here in Georgia, where you have such a beautiful environment and ecology, renewable energy—clean, renewable energy–helps protect this gorgeous, beautiful environment and ecology. This is also important for tourist revenues, as well, ensuring that the uniqueness of Georgia’s environment is preserved through private investment. So, this conference today is a platform for financial institutions, for private sector or the government, for civil society stakeholders to look at ways of expanding Georgia’s clean, reliable, renewable energy sources.
Question about the government’s readiness to implement reforms
Ambassador Degnan: Well, we know the government can move very quickly when it wants to pass legislation. We’ve seen that in the expedited legislation last December to abolish the State Inspector Service; you saw it most recently with the expedited legislation on expanding surveillance capacity. So, we know the government can move quickly when it wants to. And we know the people of Georgia want these reforms to move through quickly so that Georgia can be ready European Union membership status. The United States stands ready and willing to help in any way to with this process. The next six months will be an important opportunity to get started. There’s no time to waste and there have been many other stakeholders: the people, civil society, opposition parties, and some members of the government as well, who are standing ready to get started on these recommendations. Everyone wants to see a very positive report for Georgia by the end of the year—before that, if possible, but by December most certainly.
Question about the ship with sanctioned cargo in Batumi
Ambassador Degnan: We are certainly studying this issue. This is very concerning, and we are tracking this kind of activity everywhere. We are working with the government agencies, Customs and Revenue Service, the Ministry (of Economy). We have had very good cooperation on following up on reports like this. It is very important, and I know the government takes it seriously that we monitor very carefully for any attempts at sanctions evasion, and we will continue to do so.