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Ambassadors Degnan and Herczynski: it’s up to Georgian People What Future They Want

US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan said in a conversation with journalists on February 24, after attending the GFSIS event dedicated to Russia’s war in Ukraine, that after one year since the Russian invasion, Ukraine stands proud and independent, and that is “a reminder that we must all work as hard as we can, as the US has been for the last year, to restore peace to this region, to restore, respect for the sovereignty, for the importance of sovereign nations being able to maintain their independence and their freedom.”

Ambassador said that the U.S. greatly appreciates what the people of Georgia have done to support Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, mentioning the “overwhelming humanitarian response” and provision by the government of industrial generators. She also mentioned Georgia stood with the West on international forums, including yesterday’s UNGA resolution on Ukraine.

Campaign underway to undermine the partnership between Georgia and the West

She also said that “it’s clear that there is a campaign underway in Georgia for the last six to eight months trying to undermine a strong partnership between Georgia and the West, between Georgia and the United States, Georgia, and the European Union.” Ambassador underlined that this goes against the clear choice of the people of Georgia, who chose Europe and the European future. She underlined that there is no reason for Georgia to depend on Russia for trade, security, or anything.

Ambassador stressed that those who try to undermine the strong friendship of Georgia with the US “need to hear from the people of Georgia that this is not acceptable. They need to hear that your choice, your future is Europe.”

In her comments, she also addressed the draft law on Foreign Agents, reiterating that “this law is not about transparency,” as “there is plenty of transparency on how assistance is being used here in Georgia.”

She also stressed this law does not resemble U.S. law, rejecting the authors’ claim that it was modelled after the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). “This draft law is Russian law,” – said Ambassador Degnan, adding that “it is meant to stigmatize civil society and silence dissenting voices, different views.” She stressed that the law would create restrictions for multiple areas, from tourism and farmers’ associations to medical research and NGOs providing legal aid.

EU Ambassador: We are waiting for Georgia

Echoing his US counterpart, EU Ambassador Pawel Herczynski, speaking on a panel at the same event said: ” Georgia has received European perspective. All the discussions inside the European Union that we had for many years – is Georgia, even in Europe, is Georgia eligible – are over… We are waiting for Georgia, we are waiting for Georgia to come, and Georgia is at crossroads, and Georgians need to decide what future they want for their country.”

He then stressed: “we, as European Union, are open; it’s up for Georgians to decide if they want to move forward if they want to be stuck where they are, or even if they want to go backward, which is also, unfortunately, a possibility. We are open for Georgia; there is still time to make sure that Georgia is ready to become a member of the European family.”

Speaking about the war in Ukraine, Pawel Herczynski emphasized that the “EU has been on the right side,” standing with Ukraine from the first days of the war, supporting it not only diplomatically, politically, or with humanitarian aid but militarily as well. He argued, “this is everyone’s war.” Ukraine fights for all of us, and there is no alternative to Ukraine’s victory. “It is in the interest of everyone to make sure that Ukraine prevails,”- stressed Ambassador. He added: “I hope that in December this year will open accession negotiations with Ukraine and all 27 EU member states are firmly behind it.”

And in conversation with journalists, following the event, Pawel Herczynki talked about the draft law on foreign agents. He said: “On the so-called foreign agents’ law, my superiors from Brussels have already expressed their positions. The words were used like “concerning” or “disturbing”. What I can say on my part is that this initiative is incompatible with at least 2 of the 12 EU priorities, one priority-  on the freedom of media, the other priority – on civil society.”

EU Ambassador added: “So, I can only say, this is bad message and bad timing. But is sincerely hope somehow this initiative will be rethought, and it will be simply somehow taken out from the further works, because clearly this initiative is not consistent with the values and principles of the European Union. I hope this initiative will not be translated into law.”

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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