Ambassador’s Remarks to Media After Observing Election Process in Rustavi

Question about the event 

Ambassador Degnan: I’m very honored to be able to participate as an observer in these important elections. It’s a really important day for the people of Georgia. This is when the citizens come out and cast their votes, hold their leaders accountable, and make sure their leaders understand what their priorities are, whether it’s jobs or roads or water or healthcare. This is the day when the citizens are heard, and I’m very pleased to see in the precincts I’ve visited so far, a very calm environment with well-organized voting spaces, and also prepared for COVID. There’s very good preparations to keep people safe when they’re coming out to vote. So, I do hope that people will come out to vote, wear your mask, but come out and let your voices be heard. Hold your leaders accountable. This is the essence of democracy. The people of Georgia are the cornerstone of democracy and we really congratulate Georgian citizens for taking their voting so seriously. 

Question on Mikheil Saakashvili 

Ambassador Degnan: I’ll just start by saying, of course, we are concerned about Mr. Saakashvili’s welfare, his well-being.  We are monitoring the situation very closely as are our people in Washington to make sure that he is treated appropriately with good medical care. I’m not an expert on European law,  but we continue to urge the Georgian government to treat Mr. Saakashvili fairly, impartially, and in accordance with Georgian laws, and of course, in accordance with international human rights standards. So, I would say, this is in Ukraine’s interest.  He’s a Ukrainian citizen, so of course, Ukraine is interested in him in particular. That’s the (Ukrainian) government’s responsibility for their citizens, but we urge the medical professionals to monitor Mr. Saakashvili’s condition closely and carefully and provide him with the appropriate care. Thank you.

Question on Mr. Saakashvili’s hospitalization 

Ambassador Degnan: Again, I’m not a medical expert, my understanding is there’s one prison hospital in Georgia and it happens to be that one, but I understand the Public Defender has also said that that facility lacks certain care that Mr. Saakashvili might need. So, I think the ultimate determinant should be the kind of care that any patient needs, and there are medical experts who should be consulted to determine that in a fair and impartial way. The bottom line is the health of a human being, so making sure that anyone who is in that situation receives the kind of care that he or she needs must be the priority. Thank you!