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US Ambassador believes Georgia has Euro-Atlantic future

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, November 17
“I can surely say that Georgia is a shining light of pluralism, freedom of speech and justice,” the US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, said in his interview with the Kviris Palitra newspaper.

Kelly says that Georgia is a democratic country and should follow this path to the end.

The ambassador mentioned the Rustavi 2 TV case, saying that it would be incorrect for the government to interfere in Rustavi 2's ongoing legal dispute.

“If the opposition loses access to Rustavi 2 and the channel becomes neutral or even adopts a pro-governmental standpoint, this will lead to the suspicion that equal playing field is not provided in Georgia,” he stated.

According to Kelly, the key issue in the country is the upcoming elections, which should be held in a fair and legitimate environment.

“The perception of the pre-election environment should allow all kinds of opinions to be heard or accepted,” said the US diplomat.

Kelly also spoke about the recently published phone call recordings between the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, “his friends” and former party members. The ambassador believes that the authenticity of the recordings is suspicious but “any call for violence in a democratic society” is totally unacceptable.

The ambassador mentioned Georgia-Russia relations, saying he appreciates the Georgian government’s restraint and its pragmatism.

“To my mind, an important aspect of international affairs is to know which battles you should fight. I think that the Georgian government has done a very good job in finding that balance”, said the ambassador, noting that the United States is an active participant in the discussion.

Kelly said he believes that Georgia has a Euro-Atlantic future. However, “the difficulty is that NATO is an alliance of 28 states and every decision is made by all of them”.

The US diplomat said that Georgia has made many positive steps towards a visa liberalization process with the European Union, and that it has many friends in NATO, including the USA.

“We support Georgia’s integration into NATO and these are not only words. We have made a lot of investments in Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future. I am talking about the joint exercises we have carried out and the technical experience and equipment that we have given to Georgia”, he added.

Ian Kelly also mentioned Georgia’s contribution to NATO mission in Afghanistan, which contributes the second highest number of troops after the United States. Ambassador Kelly declared that “this is the real sacrifice the Georgians have made for joining NATO”.