State Department Spokesperson John Kirby on Rustavi 2 (Nov 4)

QUESTION: May I have the next question on Georgia? It’s also on the press freedom. I understand the U.S. just had the Strategic Dialogue with Georgia earlier this week. And Deputy Secretary Blinken emphasized that the diversity of political parties and the media is one of the most important pillars to the democracy in Georgia. I wonder if you could elaborate more on what’s being discussed regarding freedom of media in that meeting, especially in particular on the case of the TV station, Rustavi 2.

MR KIRBY: Yeah. Well, you’re right, the Deputy Secretary did bring up press freedom issues during our Strategic Partnership Commission Plenary Session on Monday. What I can tell you is that we’ve been closely observing the deliberations in this particular case, the Rustavi case. We will continue to monitor developments in any appeals process in the future following this initial ruling by the Tbilisi city court. I can also tell you that, recognizing the considerable public interest in this case, the United States welcomes the calm and restraint of all parties’ reactions to the initial ruling. As we’ve said many times throughout this case, freedom of the media and independence of the judiciary are essential foundations of any democracy, and in particular remain critical to Georgia’s successful Euro-Atlantic integration. And again, this was discussed at the plenary session Monday, and I think you can fully expect that it will continue to be something we raise repeatedly.