Ambassador Degnan: We see the Narrowing of Media Environment in Georgia

Speaking to journalists today, US Ambassador Kelly Degnan said: “We are seeing the narrowing of the media environment in Georgia”. Asked about the possibility of President Zurabishvili pardoning Mtavari TV director Nika Gvaramia, which the President did not rule out in yesterday’s interview with TV Pirveli, Kelly Degnan noted that this is a decision for the President to make, adding: “… but we all know that media freedom is very important to a  democracy and here in Georgia where we’ve seen a narrowing of the media environment, it sends an important message that independent media is supported.” She further noted: “As we see the environment narrow here, I think there’s a real risk that people are not being exposed to a range of views and that makes it hard for them to make informed decisions”

She added that independent, vibrant and robust media is crucial for people to be exposed to a range of views in order to being able to make informed decisions, which is important in any democracy but especially in Georgia, which is trying to build its institutions.

Asked about President Zurabishvili’s statement made in yesterday’s interview that it is important to know where the decision-making takes place in this country, and whether the Ambassador believes that Georgia has a chance to receive a candidate’s status given the informal rule of Bidzina Ivanishvili, Kelly Degnan noted that she had not yet have a chance to listen to the interview, but said that she believes the decision making is done by the people of Georgia, adding: “We saw this just a week ago or so, when over 100 000 Georgians in Tbilisi and other cities peacefully expressed their choice for European future.” She noted that Georgia ‘s candidate status depends on Georgia’s meetin the EU’s 12 conditions. She stressed the need to involve all stakeholders, including the Parliament, government and civil society. She also noted that these are not new reforms, and that Georgia has been working on them throughout the years.

The Ambassador added that there has been good progress in some areas, “but there is more to do” and emphasized that all the citizens of Georgia, all elected leaders “need to come together, do this in inclusive manner and stop spending so much time fighting each other, and spend more time to fulfill recommendations in a meaningful way, not in a superficial way.” She stressed: “We saw that people of Georgia are committed and firm in their pro-European choice. We hope government will listen to people of Georgia and take the necessary steps.”

Ambassador Degnan made comments while on a trip to Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia where she attended the annual civic teachers fair, which recognizes the civic education teachers in Georgia.

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

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