Q-n about today’s event and the importance of this exercise for interoperability and defense capabilities.
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: I am very honored to be here today for the successful conclusion of Agile Spirit 2021 military exercise. This is an important example of the shared values that Georgia has with its NATO allies and friends. We had soldiers from fifteen NATO Allies and partners, standing shoulder to shoulder with Georgian and American soldiers here today. Agile Spirit is a highly effective tool for building interoperability with NATO, for deterring adversaries, and for polishing the skills, practicing the skills that are needed for our militaries to work together in a coalition. It is also an example of the strong partnership between the United States and Georgia, as well as Georgia’s strong partnership with NATO partners and Allies. This kind of exercise is the best demonstration of Georgia’s NATO interoperability, its strong defense forces, and its ability to deter Russian aggression. So, again, I am very, very honored to be here today and to celebrate this successful conclusion of Agile Spirit 2021. Madloba.
Q-n about the decision of the Georgian Dream party not to have any extraordinary or snap elections, but they plan to continue the reforms that are set in the Charles Michel agreement. And is the decision not to conduct extraordinary elections somehow connected with the results of the IRI surveys and the rating of the Georgian Dream party? What would be your comment on this?
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: There will be elections in October, as scheduled, and I think it is premature to talk about beyond those elections. I will say that the April 19th Agreement was negotiated over six months by Georgia’s political leaders. One of the reasons it took six months is to ensure that it was consistent, and it is consistent with Georgia’s constitution and its laws. It still provides a very important and useful roadmap for the kinds of reforms that Georgia needs to do in the coming months. The most important value of the April 19th Agreement was that it was a multi-party agreement. Almost all of Georgia’s leaders signed on to that, but all of them participated in negotiating the reforms that are laid out in that roadmap. So, again, I think it still provides a very important framework for the reforms that need to be tackled in the future.
Q-n is about Russia’s offer or suggestion of support to Georgia with the issues of borders of Georgia; whether the statement made by Russia several days before the August war anniversary is symbolic and also, Russia’s concerns regarding the exercises near the borders of Russia.
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: I think Georgians have heard this kind of a message from Russia before. The first thing Russia needs to do is to withdraw from Georgian territory and that would be a real sign that Russia is serious and [it is] not just putting out more disinformation. It is very important for Georgians to see Russia withdraw from the occupied territories, reverse its recognition of Tskhinvali and Abkhazia, and immediately open up access to humanitarian corridors. There is a mechanism for dialogue in the Geneva International Discussions, and if Russia would use that mechanism more effectively and in good faith, it is possible that more progress could be seen in resolving this conflict, but those steps are prerequisites to any talk about messages from Russia in good will or good faith. Thank you.
Q-n: The Ambassador continues commenting on the NATO exercises.
Ambassador Kelly Degnan: NATO has been exercising in this region for over 10 years. As we see, this is the tenth anniversary of Agile Spirit, 2021. So, there is nothing new or different. This is the normal and necessary training that militaries need to do to ensure interoperability, to ensure that they have the defense capabilities they need to deter aggressors. So, in that respect, this is just another sign of NATO becoming closer and Georgia becoming more interoperable with NATO allies and partners. There is nothing new here. Thank you.