CDA Ambassador Wilson’s comments to media during the USS Donald Cook visit (January 22)

Q-n about USS Donald Cook visit

Ambassador Wilson:  Let me say, first of all, I am delighted to be on my first ever visit to Batumi.  Unfortunately, it is not a beautiful day but hopefully will be tomorrow and I am very happy to be here.  Second, it is a pleasure to welcome to Batumi, Georgia the USS Donald Cook, its crew and its commander and also an honor for us to have with us today Defense Minister Izoria, Deputy Defense Minister Chikovani and other senior officials from the Georgian Government. The Minister and his team are carrying out an ambitious modernization of Georgia’s military to enable this country to better defend itself.  The United States strongly supports that effort and Donald Cook is one reflection of that. The USS Donald Cook is here to express and demonstrate America’s interest in the Black Sea, in Black Sea security and especially to show strong support for Georgia in an important time.   And I want to express our appreciation to the Government of Georgia, the Government of Adjara and, of course, to the citizens of Batumi for their hospitality for making this visit possible and for all the that takes place in the U.S. – Georgia relations for the benefit of our countries.

Q-n about the U.S. Government shutdown – how long will it last?

Ambassador Wilson: The government shutdown, I think, results from a conflict among elected officials at various levels who believe they are trying to do what their constituents elected them to do.  They will have to argue this out.  Politics happens in every country and it is difficult right now to predict when or how this will end.  It obviously limits what we can do.  I am delighted that I am here and to be able to be part of this very important ship visit and to highlight its importance in U.S. – Georgian relations.

Q-n about the problem of movement – including of students that causes a humanitarian crisis – across the administrative boundary line between Georgia proper and the occupied territories, the de facto governments allege the reason is the outbreak of measles in Georgia 

Ambassador Wilson: I think the first thing is to say that the United States Government recognizes Georgia’s sovereignty over all of the area encompassed inside its internationally recognized borders. We do not recognize or deal in any significant way with the authorities in Abkhazia or in South Ossetia.  We regret the steps that have been taken.  We certainly recognize the humanitarian crisis it involves for many people.   We hope there will be a change in the situation in the near future.

Q-n about the Anaklia Deep Seaport, and recent developments concerning Georgian banker Mamuka Khazaradze in the context of the Anaklia Consortium 

Ambassador Wilson: I think the main thing I can say right now is that the United States supports the Anaklia project, our Overseas Private Investment Corporation has had discussions about providing some financial support to it and there may also be American financial support through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, of which we are shareholder of about 30 percent. As for the issues concerning the shareholder bank, I think all I really want to say at this point is we are following those developments with some attention, both because of the potential implications for Anaklia, but also because the bank enjoys substantial American ownership. We want Georgia to succeed, we want American investors in this country to succeed, and those two principles will determine whether and how we deal with the government on that matter in the days and weeks to come.

Q-n about when Georgia should expect the new U.S. ambassador appointed 

Ambassador Wilson: It is my understanding that the Government in Washington is working to identify a candidate to become America’s permanent ambassador to here.  I cannot really tell you where it stands and I don’t know what the timeline is. Obviously, we attach a lot of importance to our representation here and that is one of the reasons I was asked to come.