On February 12, Ambassador Kelly attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the completion of a US government-supported project to expand the size of a refugee center run by the Ministry of Refugee Affairs in Georgia. Funded by the US military’s European Command, the newly completed construction of a new wing at the Asylum Seekers’ Center in Martkopi, Georgia will provide shelter to 75 more refugees fleeing from conflict zones all over the world. The United States is proud to partner with and support Georgia’s efforts to protect and assist those who come to Georgia in search of safe haven.
Questions that Ambassador Kelly took at the opening of the US-Supported Humanitarian Assistance Project “Martkopi Asylum Seekers Center”
Q-n about the Georgian Government’s reported intention to open a Russian-language television station that is expected to warm (sic) Georgian-Russian relations. Is it the U.S. Embassy’s recommendation? Could it facilitate Russian propaganda in Georgia?
Ambassador Kelly: As I understand, this initiative is designed to help provide information for all citizens of Georgia including those who use Russian as their primary means of communication. I think in general terms we are concerned about attempts to try undermine Georgia’s aspirations to join the Euro-Atlantic community. We, of course, are following some of those attempts to undermine these aspirations.
Q-n about recent developments at Maestro TV, and their alleged political implications. What kind of information do you possess?
Ambassador Kelly: Our main goal here [in Georgia] is to ensure that Georgian democracy succeeds, and an important aspect of that is free and fair elections. And of course you can’t have free and fair elections unless there is open access to the media. So our interest in this regard is just to ensure that all of the various political players and actors on the Georgian scene are able to get their views to the Georgian electorate, and that is really our only interest in this regard.
Q-n about the arrival of NATO naval ships in the port of Batumi and its importance.
Ambassador Kelly: Of course, NATO has a number of allies and partners along the Black Sea littoral, along the Black Sea coast; and for quite some time now there have been some joint training and operations between NATO ships and NATO partner ships, including here in Georgia, and this is part of that initiative. And, I think, given some of the events, particularly on the northern shore of the Black Sea around Ukraine, we, the United States and our NATO allies and partners, have a particular heightened concern about security and safety in the Black Sea region. So this is part of that whole initiative.