So, I want to thank first Ambassador Degnan and her whole team for the welcome here in Georgia. I also want to thank all of the people of Georgia and the interlocutors I’ve met with today and that I’m meeting with later for the warm welcome. This is my first time in Georgia, and I’m just overwhelmed by the welcome. Thank you.
I come from Washington DC. My name is Kara McDonald. I’m a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and I come with a message of deep U.S. commitment, deep U.S. investment in supporting Georgia’s democratic future and democratic aspirations. These are aspirations that we believe represent the Euro-Atlantic agenda. They represent stability, peace and prosperity, and the road to these aspirations, is clear. It represents hard work. There has been much that has been achieved. We feel a part of that. We feel invested in that there has been much achieved, but there is much hard work that remains. Here in Parliament, I’ve met with the Speaker, with the head of Legal Affairs and the Human Rights committee. I’m meeting with a wide swath of civil society with media, with opposition, and other activists to get a fulsome picture of the challenges faced here as well as the work ahead. We have had wide and productive conversations about democratic development, about electoral reform, about judicial reform, and fundamentally about how to support what Georgians want, which is EU and NATO integration. I have also carried a message from Washington of deep concern about Georgia’s democratic trajectory. And my visit comes at a time of unprecedented challenges globally—with Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified reinvasion of Ukraine—something that Georgia itself is sadly very familiar with. But I come also at a time of unique opportunity for Georgia that comes from that. And my message is: Don’t lose this opportunity. Unite around what the Georgian people—what you all have expressed that you want, that is EU and NATO integration. There are many allies in this work. I mentioned the civil society members I’ve I’ve met with. I’ve also met with the Public Defender’s Office. There are many allies in the international community, in your own community, and the U.S. remains very committed. We remain committed to you. Thank you very much.