US Ambassador Kelly Degnan: “We don’t have any evidence that Georgia is not complying with the sanctions”
The US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, in an interview with “Interpressnews” agency, which was published on 9 February, discussed various issues.
Speaking about the ongoing war in Ukraine, Kelly Degnan said that under the conditions of Russian occupation of 20% of Georgia’s territory, the partners always understood the position of the country’s government and that the humanitarian aid provided to Ukraine by the Georgian population and authorities is important.
According to her, Georgia has been complying with the international financial sanctions imposed on Russia from the beginning, and they do not have any evidence to the contrary. The US ambassador also drew attention to the incoming and outgoing cargoes in Georgia and said that it is impossible to prove anything 100%, however, many years of work with the customs service and the border police showed that they “know what they are doing and they are doing the best they can, in this situation.”
In the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Ambassador Degnan once again responded to the statements of the representatives of the ruling party about the “attempt to open a second front” in Georgia and emphasized that the Georgian government “knows very well” that there was never any pressure in this direction from the Western partners, and the discussion was only about what kind of aid would you be comfortable.
“We have never pressured the Georgian authorities to impose bilateral sanctions or do anything else,” said Degnan.
Speaking about the possible restoration of direct flights between Georgia and Russia, Ambassador Degnan emphasized that Russia is “an isolated country. Nobody aspires to get closer to Russia now.” She also noted that it took many years for Georgia to reduce its dependence on Russia in various directions, and it has achieved good progress in this regard.
According to her, the US is working with other friends to help Georgia further reduce its dependence on Russia, because Russia uses it to weaken the countries. “This is not a situation that Georgia or any other country would like to be in.”
Speaking about the health condition of the imprisoned ex-president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, Kelly Degnan noted that the US is closely monitoring the developments around him. She also added that the authorities of her country are particularly concerned about the deterioration of Saakashvili’s health according to the assessments of the Ombudsman’s office and others.
As for the Tbilisi city court’s decision to keep Mikheil Saakashvili in custody, Ambassador Degnan said that she did not read the judge’s reasoning and thus it is difficult to evaluate it. However, she added that she was told people expected more discussion on this issue.
UNM plans nationwide protest rallies
Following the Tbilisi City Court’s decision not to release former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili or to defer his sentence, the United National Movement announced a parliamentary boycott, saying that it was moving to “an emergency regime” and would hold protest rallies across the country in solidarity with Saakashvili.
The first two rallies were already held on 6 and 7 February in front of the home of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the government administration. At yesterday’s news briefing, Levan Khabeishvili, the newly elected chairman of the UNM party, said that the rallies would also be held in regions that would “give a huge protest impetus” to the planned rally in the capital.
The National Movement held another rally outside the Ministry of Justice on 8 February. Rallies were also held in different regions.
At the end of the news briefing, Levan Khabeishvili addressed the opposition politicians, saying that “we need unity” instead of “wasting time criticizing each other.” “Every second and every minute is important for our country’s European future,” he added, calling on citizens to join the protest rallies.
President Zurabishvili Slams Georgian Dream for ‘Defeatism’ Toward Russia
On 9 February, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili accused the ruling Georgian Dream party of “defeatism” toward Russia, saying that “our defeatism is in unison only with Russian narratives and echoes only Russian propaganda.”
“I cannot explain, understand, or share this,” the President noted.
She also said that “the certain caution that was expressed by the government of a country that has occupied territories is understandable for everyone.” However, “caution has never excluded either dignity or solidarity, especially for us and our country.”
President Zurabishvili was apparently referring to the statement of Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the ruling party, who said in an interview with Channel One on 8 February that Russia has an advantage in the war with Ukraine, which, according to him, is confirmed by the facts as well as by the Ukrainian government, U.S. and European representatives.