Ambassador Kelly’s Media Outlet Visit in Marneuli (July 24)
AMB: So, we recognize – the United States recognizes – the importance of this region to the overall success of Georgia, and you know that we are making big investments in Georgia and its attempt to become a democratic and pluralistic, multiethnic society. And, so, Marneuli and Kvemo Kartli, of course, is a microcosm of that kind of pluralistic, multiethnic society. And that’s why we have USAID projects here, this is why we recruit for our exchange programs down here, and this is why the Embassy has given a grant to this television station – congratulations – because of the work that you do in promoting pluralism and in promoting programs in several different languages. We think that’s very important in promoting Georgia as a resilient society.
Question: Our TV, as you know is broadcasted [garbled] and in Azerbaijan. It is watched not only here, but [interrupted]…. And, in this small studio, sometimes we have very tense disputes as well, and sometimes [garbled] …Any of the issues and the challenges, that is our business.
Now, if you want to add anything, if you have questions or …
AMB: There’s also a radio here. Right. So maybe you could talk about that.
Question: Yeah, our radio works, of course, in one with the television, and the, the main directional, so we broadcast in two languages. And the most important is that we are trying to involve the local society, and to base our activity on volunteers, the young people, or wherever. They want to have their own programs come in just to shed light to the problems or the challenges they have, and this is our direction. And I think this is one of the most important aims of the local community radio, to reflect the ideas and the voices of the society, and to give this space to the people.
AMB: Great. Good.
Question: Just, uh, to comment about the role of the media in the pre-election period. As you know, the media outlets in Georgia are kind of politically polarized. How would you assess the role and the real importance of the media during the elections?
AMB: Well, I mean the most important outcome of any election is, of course, to have the results reflect the will of the people, and in order for the people to make reasoned choices, they need to know the positions of the various parties and the various candidates. And for that reason, media is very important. We in the United States have a very polarized media environment, but it is a media environment that is not controlled by the government, and the most important thing, I think, is that all points of view are heard. Of course, it bothers me that the media environment in the United States is polarized, but it would bother me even more if the media environment was uniphonic, you know, with just one voice. It needs to be like Georgian music: it needs to be polyphonic.