Ambassador’s transcript on the sidelines of the Zugdidi American Corner reopening

Q-n about the purpose of the visit to Zugdidi 
Ambassador Degnan: I am really delighted to be in Zugdidi today to celebrate expansion of the Zugdidi American Corner.  This is an important development in our long standing partnership with the city of Zugdidi. We opened this American Corner fourteen years ago, because this is the city that has such a long tradition in education, in culture , freedom, independence – all the things that we share in common with Zugdidi and with Georgia.  The expansion, I hope you come and see it, is a wonderful space and it is possible because of the support we receive from the city of Zugdidi, from the regional government, and from the people of Zugdidi who come and visit us and use this space to learn new skills, to share ideas and to make new friends. I am really please to be here in Zugdidi today for such a wonderful event.  Thank you, and thank you Zugdidi for such a warm welcome.

Q-n about the amnesty bill, two opposites bills, evaluation of the amnesty bill and whether it should apply to the law enforcement officers who abused their power.

Ambassador Degnan: Let me start by saying how important the agreement was that was signed by the parties on April 19. That was a real step forward for Georgia’s democracy and now we are seeing how a multiparty democracy actually works, and how a multiparty parliament works.  The details are for the political leaders to work out, and that is what they are doing. I think it is very healthy that they are having political debates and they will resolve something that is acceptable to everyone.  What is important is that they are back in Parliament where they should be, in the United States’ view, working on Georgia’s progress.  I think the next big challenge is going to be the electoral and the judicial reform that is also part of this agreement, and that is really going to change and improve Georgia’s elections, including the ones in October and restore confidence in the public in election results as well as judicial decisions.  So, again, I commend those members of Parliament who had political courage to enter Parliament, and to support this agreement and now are doing their jobs for the people of Georgia.
Q-n about  the need to have two different amnesty bill, whether it should apply to the “Gavrilov night policemen” and Nika Melia’s and the UNM’s position on the proposed bill
Ambassador Degnan: It should be left to the political leaders to decide.  It is not for the United States to decide something like that.  And it is not for the United States to decide what Mr. Melia decides to do. He is a leader of the largest opposition party, that is a very important place and, I think, it would be very important for him to be in Parliament and to be participating in the democratic process and representing his voters. So, I hope that will happen.