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Kelly Degnan’s Testimony Triggers Political Assessments in Tbilisi

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The statements of Kelly Degnan, the U.S. Ambassador-designate to Georgia, made during her testimony at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 29 triggered mixed reactions in Tbilisi. Civil Georgia (Civil.ge) offers a brief compendium of assessments from Georgian politicians. 

In her speech, Kelly Degnan focused on discussing Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, security issues, Russian occupation, strengthening the rule of law and democracy in Georgia, as well as the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2020.  

Ruling party assessments

Davit Zalkaliani, Foreign Minister: “We welcome the accents made by [Kelly Degnan]. She focused on the situation in the occupied regions, the U.S.’s support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, our European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. It is important to translate all her desires into practical cooperation and it will be done, because the Georgian-U.S. strategic partnership is currently at the highest level of cooperation  in recent years; we have never had such high level relations with the United States before.”

Tea Tsulukiani, Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister: “Under the Georgian Dream’s rule, we have held transparent and fair elections for many times and the results of which cannot be disputed by anyone. Accordingly, there is no reason for not holding higher standard elections in 2020.”

Tamar Chugoshvili, Vice Speaker: “The opposition reads these statements the way it would like to; moreover, it even reads [from these statements] what has not been said. Generally, there is nothing new either for us or for the United States in the fact that the next year’s parliamentary elections will be the major political development for our country. We all know that the most important [2020] vote is ahead of us; our partners are already involved in this process.”

Opposition assessments

Roman Gotsiridze, United National Movement: “Degnan stressed once again that the occupying state – Russia creates the main problem to Georgia and that the United States will support Georgia as much as possible to enable the country to defend its territorial integrity and to get integrated in Euro-Atlantic space. At the same time, it is worth noting that she is an experienced person; she has experience in the spheres, that are directly linked to Georgia’s security, such as the Black Sea issues; she has worked in Turkey and knows the region well. Therefore, it is good that prior to her arrival in Georgia, the U.S. Ambassador is familiar with the problem facing the country and the remarks made by her during these days can only be welcomed.”

Davit Bakradze, European Georgia: “The U.S. Ambassador will be arriving in Georgia with a clear mandate. The Senate’s issued mandate means that the country should hold free and democratic elections and our partners’ active involvement in this process may become a turning point to ensure that the government fails to rig the 2020 elections, and along with the proportional system, it will become a decisive factor for changing the government in Georgia. Therefore, it is of special importance to note that among her three main priorities, the future ambassador named free elections; she received this mandate from the Senate and will arrive in Georgia to perform this mission.”  

Eka Beselia, For Justice party/independent lawmaker: “The Ambassador’s messages involve the issue of judicial independence and judiciary reform. The principle of holding democratic elections is the main message.”  

Tamar Kordzaia, Republican Party: “Her remarks are important because our American partners see better than others what problems we are facing inside [the country]. It is important that this person is familiar with the situation in Georgia and I know that any person, who may represent the United States or be U.S. Ambassador to Georgia will have a deep understanding of the situation in our country; our government will not be able to cheat her.”

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