CDA Ross Wilson’s Remarks to Media at USS Ross Visit (April 23)

CDA Ross Wilson’s Remarks to Media at USS Ross Visit (April 23)

Q-n about the visit

Charge d’Afffairs, Ross Wilson: Good evening, welcome to the visit of the USS Ross to Batumi.  We are delighted to have this ship here.  It is on one of a series of U.S. Naval ship visits to the Black Sea.  This is the second so far this year, and its only April.  These visits are intended to showcase our partnership in this region, to bolster security, and stability and peace in the region, and in particular, to show strong support for Georgia, for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Q-n: what would you comment on the recent developments at Adjara Public broadcaster when the director was impeached by the board members, does this pose a threat to Georgia’s media independence?

Charge d’Afffairs, Ross Wilson:  Well, I am aware of the developments, my staff has kept me appraised of what goes on in Adjara and in particular this piece. Obviously, there are issues that I am not all that familiar with, but we certainly attach a lot of importance to the credibility that Adjara TV enjoys in the many assessments of its even-handed coverage of the presidential election campaign.  I think that reputation, that record, that credibility will be important to retain going forward and we will continue to follow developments there. 

Q-n: Two Russian patrol ships have followed the USS Ross in the Black Sea, does Russia see a threat in having U.S ship in the Black Sea? 

Charge d’Afffairs, Ross Wilson:  I think what I can say is that its fairly standard practice for the Russian navy to shadow, or follow or track the activities of American and other allied military naval deployments into the Black Sea.  Beyond that, as to what Russia intends or what Russia fears, I think that’s a question perhaps better directed at them.  We are exercising our rights, under international law, to carry out operations here.  We believe those operations are important for our ability to work with our friends and partners, including in Georgia.  We expect other countries to accept that. 

Q-n: how would you assess Georgian government’s actions in Pankisi recently?

Charge d’Afffairs, Ross Wilson:  Certainly, we followed the news over the weekend, the developments there.  There are obviously some concerns that I think the Georgians should have on what has taken place.  There is a complicated situation there.  The region needs economic development.  It needs energy in order to power that development, and there are certain responsibilities there for the private sector and for the government in helping to secure those resources.  There is also a requirement to deal in a reasonably consensual way with a local community and I think that is a dialogue that clearly has to develop a little bit further.  We will continue to follow things.  I think we have a high degree of confidence in the ability of the Georgian authorities to provide security throughout the country, including there. 

Q-n about the judicial reform and the challenges it has recently

Charge d’Afffairs, Ross Wilson:  Well, you know, the United States strongly supports Georgia, we have prioritized for many years judicial reforms.  It is something that we think is crucial for ensuring Georgians’ confidence in their democratic institutions.  In part for that reason, we were somewhat disappointed with the latest draft bill that the Parliament passed in its second reading, that seems not adequate to take into consideration the recommendations that were provided by the United States, the European Union, the Council of Europe, OSCE and most recently the Venice Commission.  We hope that some further consideration of those recommendations will be forthcoming, and of course, whatever legislation emerges, we hope that the High Council of Justice will act in an open and transparent manner on nominations, and that Parliament will fully fulfill its responsibilities to consider those nominations in a thorough, but also in a critical way, to ensure that the country has the Supreme Court judges that it needs to function effectively as a proper, secure and effective democracy.