Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here, not only at this conference, but in Georgia where the United States enjoys such productive collaboration across a wide range of areas, including continued democratic development and needed reforms, economic growth and diversification, and defense and security cooperation. I would like to thank our partners in the Georgian government, the Biosafety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus, and above all, the citizens of Georgia, who for more than 30 years since regaining independence, have chosen a Euro-Atlantic path. We are honored to work with you.
At this conference, I emphasized that we must take the lessons we have learned from the pandemic and apply them to our future global health, security and pandemic preparedness and response efforts. This is a vital area of cooperation between the United States and Georgia; one driven by the excellent leadership at Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control, a ready and willing partner who has become a regional leader in the field of public health. From Hepatitis C elimination to Covid 19 monitoring and treatment, their work is truly valuable. I am here to stress that this cooperation will continue far into the future. One of my priorities, as the United States under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, is to enhance biosafety and biosecurity norms, practices, tools, and resources to bolster cooperation in forums such as the Biological Weapons Convention, the Global Partnership, and the Global Health Security Agenda. My team will work to ensure the tools needed to address these challenges get the attention and resources required. I am also here to meet with Georgian leaders to discuss several other areas of strategic interest to both our countries: border security, customs, and defense. In all these engagements, I look forward to delivering a message of strong support from Washington for the tremendous work Ambassador Degnan and her Embassy team have done to help advance Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and to the Georgian government for their collaboration and partnership in working with us in addressing these concerns.
These efforts have not come easily, especially of late, where we’ve been dismayed to see personal attacks on Ambassador Degnan and the Embassy. Let us be clear, this is part of a bigger pattern of disinformation aimed at obscuring the truth and the realities of the current crisis in Europe that one man has created. The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, just as we will always recognize Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Together, we should all be standing by supporting the people of Ukraine as they fight for their freedom and sovereignty.