Ambassador Kelly’s Remarks to Media at the Georgia Defense and Security Conference (October 12)
Q-n about the event
Ambassador Kelly: This is the third Batumi Security and Defense Conference that I have attended, and I’ve watched over the last three years how this conference has grown in the number of participants but probably more importantly in the level of participation. I am very impressed by the number of Ministers that are here, and I think it is a real tribute to Georgia’s growing importance and appreciation among Georgia’s partners that Georgia faces very difficult security challenges and is dealing with them successfully. And, of course, there is a real desire among the international community to help Georgia, including of course the United States. For the issues covered here, I am looking forward to the panel on Black Sea Security. I will be participating in that later on this afternoon. I think we are all concerned about the annexation of Crimea, the harassment of NATO aircraft and harassment of NATO shipping and partner shipping in the Black Sea, and how that has really caused a lot of concern both in Europe and in America. So far it has been an extraordinary conference.
Q-n: what is the main role of Georgia in Black Sea security?
Ambassador Kelly: I think it is twofold. One, of course, is that Georgia has the coastline here, an important coastline, and I think the other role is that Georgia is the outlet, the port from east to west across the Black Sea. I think Georgia has both a strategic importance but also political-economic importance.