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State Department: Ambassador Degnan Has Our Full Support

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, July 22, 2022
At a July 20 briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price pledged full support for Ambassador Kelly Degnan, echoing her rhetoric. According to him, the misinformation and personal attack on Kelly Degnan and her team are not appropriate.

“Disinformation and personal attacks on Ambassador Degnan or her team are not consistent with how partners communicate with one another, and we will continue to focus on supporting our shared goals.”

Ned Price opened his daily briefing on July 20 by talking about Georgia and said that the Embassy in Tbilisi is doing everything to support the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian population. Referencing Georgia’s recently granted European perspective, Price said while the U.S. fully supports Georgian citizens’ EU aspirations, the rhetoric from some Georgian officials recently, however, seems intended to distract Georgia’s citizens from that goal.

Price also noted that the US will continue to help Georgia and support it in carrying out the reforms needed to obtain the status of a candidate for the EU.

“Ambassador Degnan and her team at our embassy in Tbilisi are committed to working with the people of Georgia in support of their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We have worked shoulder to shoulder for 30 years on democratic reforms, economic development, and security cooperation. This remains unchanged.” he added.

Price once again confirmed support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, reiterating that the U.S. is working with allies and partners to bring an end to President Putin’s war in Ukraine as quickly as possible and to secure a peaceful future for the entire region.

Kelly Degnan, the US ambassador to Georgia, recently became the object of criticism by the representatives of the Georgian government. They accuse the ambassador of interfering in Georgia's domestic affairs.

Ruling Georgian Dream party officials have recently lashed out on several issues, including the U.S.’ critical position on Judge Lasha Chkhikvadze’s decision to imprison opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV chief Nika Gvaramia.

In a letter, where the Judge accused MEP and the U.S. of pressuring the judiciary, he wrote that he has ‘personal experience of such pressure’, referring to his removal from a planned study trip to the U.S. Chkhikvadze said he had met with the U.S. Department of Justice representative Kevin Burke before the planned trip, who ‘asked me about the factual circumstances of the case and told me that the Ambassador is interested in why I decided on a guilty verdict, and especially why I used imprisonment as the punishment.’ Chkhikvadze added that soon after the meeting, ‘my participation was no longer desirable and I was removed from the list ‘.

Ambassador Degnan, denied Judge Chkhikvadze’s allegation of interference in the judicial system, saying that "any suggestion that the United States was interfering in the judicial process here is, is simply not true."

Members of the ruling party and the opposition responded to Spokesperson Price’s statement. Below is a sampling of their reactions. MP Archil Talakvadze said that no representative of the Georgian government has attacked or insulted the representatives of the United States of America… “I understand that the radical opposition, our opponents, want to blame what they are doing, attacking and insulting Western ambassadors, on the Georgian Dream,” he added.

MP Mikheil Sarjveladze stated that Price must be not well informed and clarified that Judge Chkhikvadze’s statement arose questions in society, as well as among politicians. He recalled his comment from the previous day when he emphasized the need to clarify this situation, adding that he doesn’t have the feeling that in this case, there are extreme misfortunes or legal violations.

The opposition also responded to this situation. MP Vakhtang Megrelishvili from Girchi said that "it was completely unheard of for our partners as well, why the Georgian government behaves the way it does, why they verbally attack our partners, while they are our only protection in the face of the risks under which we live today."

European Georgia representative Gigi Tsereteli couldn’t recall such a harsh statement, which is sometimes made not towards strategic partners but unfriendly and hostile nations. “This often happens with Russia, Belarus, etc. If the government of Georgia wants to be included in this list, then it should make such statements. This is very bad for bilateral relations.”

United National Movement member Bacho Dolidze thinks this is a confirmation from State Department that ‘we have people in power who are interfering with Georgia’s European integration, and that this government is a barrier between us and Europe, between us and the civilized world.’

Ana Buchukuri from For Georgia accused the ruling party of lacking basic diplomacy skills, which the state department had to explain and remind them, "means that when you attack the Ambassador or official of the United States of America or any country, yes, it means an attack against that particular state, which this or that Ambassador represents."