Ambassador Kelly’s Remarks to Media at the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) (July 7)
Q-n about the meeting with the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC)
Ambassador Kelly: Our priority here is to support Georgia’s aspiration to join Euro-Atlantic institutions and also support Georgia’s economic growth and its resilience. And, of course, an important part of that is to help Georgia reach international standards with regard to labor law and regulations. So, I asked for a briefing from the various labor unions that are represented here.
Q-n about the main challenges facing GTUC and how to overcome those challenges
Ambassador Kelly: I think the main thing is to have a more comprehensive legislative structure so that there is an agreed roadmap between management and labor; particularly, as it pertains to protection of labor rights and health and safety protection. We have been assisting in advising about developing that kind of legislation. I think that is the most important priority right now.
Q-n about Georgian government’s reported decision to deny Mr. Cabuk asylum and potential extradition
Ambassador Kelly: I am just hearing this from you. I am not going to comment on a court decision that I have not seen. But, let me just say that we have expressed our concerns about this case that there be scrupulous adherence to due process. Any kind of decision relating to extradition needs to be based on very solid evidence of culpability, of guilt; and we had been in fairly regular contact with the government and with the Ministry of Justice on this issue. You know that we have our own such cases, of requests for extradition. So, we believe that our role is to share our own experiences and our own standards for extradition, which, we believe, should be very, very high.
Q-n about so-called “creeping occupation” by Russia
Ambassador Kelly: I think it is very much incumbent on us, the international community, partners and friends of Georgia to be very clear that we find any kind of change of the internationally recognized borders of Georgia as something that we do not accept and will never accept. On this issue, of course, we are in close contact with the European Union’s Monitoring Mission – these are the real experts. And, I think, we will take our lead from them in terms of that in determining what exactly happened and where. But, let me just reiterate and I will reiterate this every day that I am here in Georgia if I have the opportunity that the United States only recognizes the internationally recognized borders of Georgia , that we have been, are, and will be very supportive of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over its entire territory.
Q-n about the investigation of the Afghan Mukhtarli’s case and his wife’s claims about surveillance
Ambassador Kelly: We, of course, are very concerned about the fact that an Azeri journalist was taken apparently from within Georgia and showed up the next day in Baku. We have been very clear with the government that we think there should be a thorough investigation and that results should be shared as appropriate after the end of this investigation. Regarding how long the investigation should take, well, it should take as long as it needs to take. But, the important thing here is that information, as appropriate, be shared with the Georgian people at the appropriate time. We have also been in contact with the government about the safety of Mukhtarli’s wife here, of his family here, and we have received assurances that they will take extra measures to guarantee her safety. Again, I have not seen what she said at the press conference, so I cannot comment on it except to say that we have been very clear that we are following this closely and particularly her safety.