Ambassador's Remarks at Gulf Basketball Event
Question about today’s event:
Ambassador Degnan: I’m so glad to be back in Guria. It is one of my favorite parts of Georgia and I can’t think of a better reason to be here than to open the Zaza Pachulia’s basketball court here in Ozurgeti. This is sponsored by Gulf. It’s the fifth of 20 basketball courts that Gulf and Zaza are cooperating on to bring to Georgia. And I think you can see from all the excited basketball players behind me, this is a huge welcome addition to the community and I’m just delighted to be here for the opening.
Question on FARA documents
Ambassador Degnan: We’ve been crystal clear about this; there is something vague or ambiguous. No one in the U.S Embassy in Tbilisi has been involved in lobbying on behalf of President Saakashvili. The Embassy was mentioned in the documents because a lobbyist called one of our employees. Answering your phone in no way means agreeing to do anything. It means nothing more than answering your phone. And we have been very, very clear, crystal clear. No one at the U.S Embassy in Tbilisi has been involved in lobbying on behalf of President Saakashvili. Period. Simple as that.
Question on reactions to cruise ship in Batumi
Ambassador Degnan: The most important reaction to this cruise ship of Russian visitor tourists is the reaction of the citizens of Georgia. And I think they made that very clear in Batumi and elsewhere that they did not welcome this. Georgians are wonderful, hospitable, warm hosts. But I don’t think anyone should be surprised or anyone should be expected to welcome anyone who is occupying your territory, who is keeping your families apart, who is detaining your citizens. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that many Georgians did not welcome the arrival of this ship.
Question on compliance with sanctions
Ambassador Degnan: We just had an important visit from both the US, the UK, and the European Union sanctions coordinator a couple of weeks ago, discussing this with the Georgian government, thanking the Georgian government for the cooperation we’ve seen in trying to keep the components that are showing up on the battlefield, killing people in Ukraine. This is really the main focus of trying the export controls and the sanctions, keeping those things that are killing people in Ukraine from getting into Russia and getting into the Russian military. Georgia has been a good partner in that and we need to remain vigilant. There are many people who are trying to find workarounds to get these components into Russia, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the Georgian authorities to prevent that from happening through Georgia. Thank you!