Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s Remarks to Media at PITA Closing Ceremony

Q-n about the event

Ambassador Kelly Degnan: I am very pleased to be here today with the state minister and the deputy public defender to celebrate the successful conclusion of USAID’s PITA program: Promoting Integrity, Tolerance and Awareness. Over the past six years, this USAID program has been implemented by the UN association in Georgia to integrate all of Georgia’s society together regardless of their ethnicity, their religion or any other identity. When I have travelled around Georgia, meeting with the PITA groups has been one the highlights of every trip.  I have been so impressed with how articulate the PITA participants are about the importance of diversity in Georgia and about the strength that this diversity, this tolerance and respect brings to the society as a whole. So,  I am sorry to see the program conclude, but it has been a tremendous success and we are really proud to have been a part of strengthening civic integration in Georgia. Thank you!

Q-n about the Senator’s visit. The political situation in Georgia is quite challenging and coincides with the visit. What will be the messages, what will be the agenda and the topics to be discussed at the meetings? Will they talk about judicial reform? And as we know there are some points that …. from Michel’s agreement that has already been violated by appointing members of the High Council of Justice

Ambassador Kelly Degnan: The most important message is that they are coming to show America’s continued support for Georgia and our partnership. This is a long-standing partnership as Georgia has developed its democracy, and that is going to continue. Because of Covid we had a little bit of a break, but they are, they have been anxious to come back and see how thing are developing here in Georgia, so many topics will be on the agenda. There is bipartisan support, I think you see that in the fact that Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman are coming, and many others are interested in hearing about their trip when they get back. So, they are going to be meeting with the full range of government officials as well as civil society as well as opposition leaders, and of course focusing on continued Russian aggression and occupation of 20 percent of Georgia’s territory, which remains a very important and concerning issue for the United States as well as Georgia. So, it going to be a full packed schedule and I think they are interested to see how Georgia is doing and whether that commitment to its democratic development and its Euro-Atlantic aspiration remains as strong as ever. Thank you.

Q-n about United National Movement entering the parliament, but not signing the April 19th Agreement.  

Ambassador Kelly Degnan: We are pleased that United National Movement is entering the parliament. Of course, that’s an important sign of the parties working together in parliament, which is what we have been encouraging for the past seven months. Each party made this decision based on their supporters. Of course, we were very disappointed that UNM has decided so far not to sign the agreement, we hope that the leadership will decide to sign the agreement and be part of ensuring that the provisions of the agreement are reflected in legislation and are then implemented and carried out. All of that is very important. It is not just an agreement signed on April 19th. It needs the legislation and then it needs the implementation to make sure that real change happens in terms of better elections, and judicial systems that at all levels that the public has confidence in. So, we sincerely hope that UNM will decide to sign the agreement and will enter the parliament and work constructively with the ruling party and the other opposition parties. Thank you.

Q-n about protesters from village Shukruti, have you received their letter and how do you see your role in the negotiation process between these people and the government of Georgia?

Ambassador Kelly Degnan: The United States does not have the direct…a direct role in this.. but our human…our human rights officer met with the group yesterday and was able to hear their concerns. We are trying to facilitate meeting for them with public defender’s office, with appropriate NGOs who can help them and work through their issues. Really, our role can be connecting, we don’t otherwise have an .. there is no US interest in their… but of course we want to make sure that they are okay and also that they are heard  by… and their concerns are heard.