Ambassador Kelly’s comments to the media made ahead of screening the documentary 25th Anniversary of U.S. – Georgia diplomatic relations (December 4)

Ambassador Kelly’s comments to the media made ahead of screening the documentary 25th Anniversary of U.S. – Georgia diplomatic relations (December 4)

Q-n about the documentary

Ambassador Kelly: It was a real honor for me to participate in this film, to be interviewed for it along with previous Ambassadors to Georgia.  It will be a real honor for me to represent the United States in the 25th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations.  And, we look forward to a number of celebrations and we will maybe call this one sort of the inaugural celebration of 25 years.

Q-n about Ambassador Kelly’s interview taped for the documentary on U.S.-Georgian relations: 

Ambassador Kelly: One of the things I talked about is how I was here 40 years ago.  I was here in 1976 as a college student and I fell in love with Georgia.  I must say that I never imagined that Georgia would become independent and this is just a real thrill for me to be here tonight; and, as I say, to be here for the 25th anniversary.  You will see, I talk about a broad spectrum of U.S. – Georgiancooperation and how our partnership with Georgia is so important.

Q-n about the specifics of the U.S. resolution to increase funding for Georgia’s defense capability

Ambassador Kelly: I was not at all surprised to hear that this resolution passed with bipartisan support noting, in particular, support for Georgia and its defense and territorial integrity.  Of course, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation when Secretary Kerry was here.  We anticipate in the next few weeks several delegations will come to Tbilisi and will talk to the Defense Ministry and other officials about what exactly we can do together, and, I think that is the important thing [as] we need to have input from the Georgian side about how we implement this program of cooperation.  I think it is going to be mostly oriented towards increasing Georgia’s readiness to defend itself.

Q-n about the amount allocated and its primary goal

Ambassador Kelly: I don’t think a dollar figure has been placed on it yet.  This is an authorization bill.  And, like I said before, a lot will depend on exactly what we can do together.  So, I think once we design the programs then I think there will be a price tag, first we have to design the program.

Q-n about economic situation in Georgia 

Ambassador Kelly: I think the Prime Minister has a very good plan to grow the economy.  A lot of our bilateral assistance is designed to support that plan.  I think that there are a lot of challenges in the region, something that we call headwinds.  I think it is difficult now for countries in this region, including Georgia, to implement growth programs because of these challenges.  The Unites States supports the Prime Minister’s agenda.

Q-n about Spokesperson Kirby’s statement on Rustavi 2

Ambassador Kelly: I think it is a matter of semantics.  I spent a year as State Department Spokesman and the job of the State Department Spokesman is to respond to questions and his response to the questions becomes an on-the-record statement to policy.  So, this was done orally in a briefing, but anything that the Spokesman says is a statement to policy.  So, it is a matter of semantics really.  It was not issued as a written statement.  It was a response to a question.

Q-n about the importance of free media

Ambassador Kelly: Incredibly important, I have said it many times.

Q-n about the future of U.S.-Georgian relations

Ambassador Kelly: …never supposed to predict or speculate.  But, I will refer back to the resolution of the Senate authorizing the defense spending and making a special mention of Georgia.  It is an indication about how broad the support is for Georgia.  So, I would anticipate that the next administration will be equally supportive.  I am very encouraged by the nominee for the Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, who knows NATO, knows the issues out here, and obviously knows his job being one of the best generals we have ever had.  So, I think support will continue for Georgia.