AMBASSADOR DEGNAN'S REMARKS TO MEDIA AT SKILLS WEEKMonday, 24 April 2023 15:02
Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: I’m very pleased to be here today, along with the Minister of Education, my EU colleague, and many other distinguished guests for the launch of Georgia’s Skills Week. The United States has been helping Georgia develop its education sector for years, including in the area of vocational education and training. This is because we want Georgian citizens to be able to acquire the skills they need through vocational education and training in order to get good paying jobs for rewarding lifelong careers. This is our latest program through USAID: industry-led skills bring together the private sector that coordinates with vocational education and training institutions to make sure that students are coming out with the skills that are needed in today’s market. The programs are designed to bring together the government, the private sector, vocational and education training institutions, and civil society to make sure that Georgians have the opportunity for better paying jobs and rewarding careers that are going to help both their families and their communities. So, we are delighted today to launch Skills Week, a weeklong celebration of the achievements that Georgia has made in this area.
Question on designations on individuals associated with the Georgian judiciary and U.S. study tours for judges
Ambassador Degnan: Our study tours have been popular and successful because they bring together judges from the United States with judges in Georgia and give them an opportunity to learn from each other and to share their best practices and lessons learned. Sometimes they talk about how they manage their courtrooms, the heavy workloads, or sometimes particularly interesting issues that come up during cases. Our programs are open to those who are qualified, as well as those who will benefit from these exchanges with American judges and maybe bring ideas back to their courtrooms. They’re also open to those who can go because this is a big time commitment. Sometimes, given the workloads of judges here, they’re not always able to go for the full two weeks; sometimes it’s even longer than two weeks. So, we are always delighted when Georgian judges choose to participate in our programs, and we usually have a lot of interest in them. We look forward to continuing this great exchange between Georgian and American judges.
On your second question, Parliament created these investigatory commissions as a mechanism to look into issues that are important to the people of Georgia, to look into issues of the day that require greater transparency, and more information to allow the citizens of Georgia to be better informed and also to hold people accountable and provide transparency on important issues. So, the reason this mechanism was created by Parliament was to provide citizens with more information. I think it’s a very useful technique that’s been a mechanism that’s used in many different Parliaments, including the US Congress. We would hope that Parliament and Members of Parliament would make full use of these tools that they have created in the interest of their citizens.
Question on Helsinki Commission’s call for Nika Gvaramia’s release
Ambassador Degnan: The Helsinki Commission is a very well-respected organization that has a mandate from the United States Congress to monitor human rights around the world, including media freedom. They have been clear, as have many others, including our Embassy, on concerns about Mr. Gvaramia’s case, including the original charges, the timing of the charges, and then subsequently the conviction and decision. This is a letter from an organization that has been a friend of Georgia’s for a very long time, a strong supporter of Georgia in its democratic development and its progress toward European integration. Any decision regarding pardoning is solely up to President Zourabichvili, and I’m sure she takes all of the requests—such as those from the Helsinki Commission—into consideration in making her decisions.
EU celebrates family connections: discover the photo contest winner from Georgia!
Natela Grigalashvili is the winner of the Family Connections Photo Contest for Georgia, with her project “The Final Days of Georgian Nomads” rewarded at a gala awards event announcing the winners of the EUNEIGHBOURS EAST - FOTOFESTIWAL photo contest on Friday 31 March 2023 at the Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum.
The photo contest, funded by the European Union, invited professional photographers from the six Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - to enter a set of photographs around the theme of Family Connections, with one photographer from each country winning a prize of €1,000.
The gala awards event was hosted by Pawel Herczynski, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia and Nestan Nizharadze, the co-founder of Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum, and attended by local celebrities, and media, bloggers and influencers from across the region.
Presenting the awards, Ambassador Pawel Herczynski said: "Through this photo contest, we are proud to showcase the EU's commitment to fostering cultural exchange and promoting the power of photography as a tool for reflection and change. The theme of Family and family connections highlight the importance of our shared values and the role Family plays in shaping our societies. Congratulations to all the photographers for their creative and inspiring interpretations."
The photo competition sought personal interpretations around the theme of ‘family connections’: how does family connect us to our roots, culture, traditions, attitudes and future? Which connections define a family and make us belong? How do these connections adapt to changing worlds, technology, conflict, love and loss?
Georgian winner Natela Grigalashvili is a freelance documentary photographer based in Tbilisi, working mainly on long-term documentary projects in rural areas of the country. Her winning project, “The Final Days of Georgian Nomads”, examines the lives of nomad families in mountainous Adjara.
This is how Natela Grigalashvili describes her award-winning project:
“Mountainous Adjara is one of the most unique regions of Georgia, an area where the traditions and old ways of life have been preserved to this day. The isolation and alienation of the inhabitants of this mountainous area has been an ongoing issue for a long time, and the past decades have been especially challenging. The difficult social and economic situation in the country has hindered its development and the integration of its inhabitants with the rest of the country.
“For years, the inhabitants of Adjara have been unable to access proper education, health care and many other services. Villages often experienced electricity shortages and during harsh winters they were usually cut off from the outside world. Due to the absence of basic living conditions, many Adjarian villages are now empty. Many families have become eco migrants as they were forced to move to other regions of Georgia or abroad, mostly to Turkey. Khulo and Ghorjomi Gorge are the highest settlements of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. There are 18 different villages of various sizes in the Gorge. Because of their small population, some of these villages only have elementary schools and high school students have to attend schools in other villages. The roads between these villages are damaged and the infrastructure is faulty.
“Almost all of the inhabitants of these villages are Muslim, and there are mosques in every large village. The residents are mostly cattle breeders, but due to the lack of pastures, cattle owners take their herds to the mountains in the summer and stay there until late autumn. Nomadic Adjarians have to move several times a year. But despite this, most of the men still have to work in Turkey, holding seasonal jobs for additional income. Because of this difficult situation, this mountainous region is slowly emptying and its unique tradition and lifestyle is being forgotten.”
Natela was one of three shortlisted photographers from Georgia. The other two were Ekaterine Kolesnikova (Morning Comes Too Soon) and Tako Robakidze (Peacekeepers).
The six winners were chosen by team of five top international judges from a total of more than 400 initial applications, narrowed down to a shortlist of 18 photographers – three from each country – who were all invited to the awards event in Tbilisi.
The other national winners are Nazik Armenakyan (Armenia), Orkhan Azimov (Azerbaijan), Pasha Kritchko (Belarus), Katerina Shosheva (Moldova), and Marysia Myanovska (Ukraine).
The gala awards event was attended by the EU Ambassador to Georgia, as well as photographers, media, content creators and influencers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.
The day before the awards ceremony, on 30 March, the shortlisted photographers took part in a masterclass with the international judges of the competition.
The contest was organised by the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST programme, in partnership with Polish Fotofestiwal.
About Natela Grigalashvili
Natela Grigalashvili is a freelance documentary photographer based in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the past, Grigalashvili worked as a photo reporter as well as a film operator. At the beginning of her career, she used to shoot with black-and-white film but for more than a decade Grigalashvili has been taking colour photographs with a digital camera. She now mainly works on long-term documentary projects in the rural areas of Georgia, focusing on the lives and issues of people living in villages and provincial cities. While working on a photo series, Grigalashvili focuses on the story which is told by the image.
Ambassador Herczynski’s message on the one year mark of Russia’s war in UkraineFriday, 24 February 2023 12:13
Ambassador Herczynski’s message on the one year mark of Russia’s war in Ukraine. It has been one year since Russia launched its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
This ongoing war is an unprecedented violation of fundamental values and principles of international law.
Ukraine was attacked because it wanted to decide about its future by itself, not with dictate from Moscow.
According to the UN Charter, as a victim of aggression, Ukraine has the inherent right to defend itself.
The EU remains resolute, united and determined in our support to Ukraine on all fronts: humanitarian, economic, political, diplomatic and military.
This is not just an aggression against Ukraine, a sovereign country, but aggression against democracy worldwide.
This is a threat to all countries, because what is at stake is their independence and sovereignty to make choices based on their own decisions.
The EU is working towards the widest possible international condemnation and isolation of Russia by the international community.
Our unity with like-minded international partners has been unwavering and we are taking unprecedented actions together.
Georgia has been actively participating in these efforts.
Six United Nations General Assembly resolutions confirm the international condemnation and isolation of Russia.
The EU’s support for Ukraine will not diminish the attention to other partners. On the contrary, unequivocal and resolute response to Russia’s war in Ukraine must be maintained to hold the aggressor accountable.
Georgia’s close cooperation with the EU, based on shared understanding of our common European values is a solid foundation to build an ever stronger EU-Georgia relationship. The EU has given a clear European perspective to Georgia, with concrete steps to receive EU candidate status. This process is merit-based and reform driven.
At the same time, Russian and other disinformation actors seek to manipulate the information space to echo pro-Kremlin narratives and propaganda, obstruct integration, sow divisions and diminish solidarity. We need to be vigilant, strengthen our resilience and cooperate closely to counter these malicious activities.
Ukraine is fighting for values the Europe is built on.
Ukraine’s fight is our fight.
Ukraine must prevail.
Glory to Ukraine!
Prime Minister meets Ambassador of United Arab Emirates to GeorgiaTuesday, 24 January 2023 13:04
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili met with Ahmed Ebrahim Ahmed Taher Al Nuaimi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Georgia.
The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates has handed over copies of his credentials to Alexander KhvtisiashviliThursday, 15 December 2022 13:17
On 12 September 2022, the Ambassador-designate of the United Arab Emirates to Georgia, Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed Taher Alnuaimi, presented copies of his credentials to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Aleksandre Khvtisiashvili.
The deputy minister congratulated the ambassador on the launch of his diplomatic mission in Georgia and wished him success in his future activities.
The sides discussed the issues on the agenda of the relations between the two countries. They noted with satisfaction that over the recent years the cooperation between the two countries has intensified in political, trade-economic, tourism and other fields. They also emphasized the importance of high-level visits planned for the future.
AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY AND PLENIPOTENTIARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE ACCREDITED IN TURKMENISTANThursday, 08 December 2022 16:17
On December 7, 2022, on behalf of President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Milli Gengesh G. Mammedova received credentials from the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sierra Leone to Turkmenistan (with residence in Tehran) Aliye Badara Kamara.
On behalf of the head of state, the head of the national parliament congratulated the guest on his appointment to a responsible diplomatic post, wishing him great success in the noble cause of strengthening the ties of friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two countries.
Thanking for the cordial welcome on the Turkmen land, the diplomat conveyed to President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the entire Turkmen people warm greetings and best wishes from the leadership of his country, expressing readiness to contribute in every possible way to strengthening bilateral cooperation.
During the conversation, the diplomat was informed in detail about the priorities of the foreign policy of independent neutral Turkmenistan, one of the most important aspects of which is the development of broad international cooperation, including with African states.
An interested exchange of views took place on the further development of inter-parliamentary cooperation, including on international platforms - within the framework of authoritative organizations and structures. The Ambassador was informed about the legislative activities of the Mejlis of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan.
Particular attention was also paid to interaction at the level of trade-economic and business relations, the activation of cultural and humanitarian contacts, the development of ties in the fields of science, education, sports and tourism.
In this regard, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sierra Leone to Turkmenistan Aliye Badara Kamara expressed confidence in further building up constructive dialogue and good relations that fully meet the interests of the two countries and their friendly peoples.
In the first half of the day, a meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sierra Leone to Turkmenistan (with residence in Tehran) Aliye Badara Kamara.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone presented copies of his credentials. Then the parties exchanged views on the development of friendly relations and political, trade, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
NEW AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA ACCREDITED IN TURKMENISTANThursday, 01 December 2022 12:59
On November 30, 2022, a meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan between the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan V. Hajyiev and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to Turkmenistan (with residence in Baku) Mr.Thomas Schuller-Gotzburg, who arrived in Ashgabat to present credentials.
In course of the meeting the diplomats expressed the interest of Turkmenistan and Austria in establishing long-term cooperation in various areas of mutual interest. They also discussed the prospects for cooperation at the multilateral level and important issues on the UN agenda of mutual interest.
Emphasizing the important role of the foreign ministries in the development of cooperation between the two countries, the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria to Turkmenistan in 2021 was noted, during which the Program of Cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs for 2022-2023 was signed.
In frames of the meeting, Ambassador presented copies of his credentials.
In the afternoon, on behalf of President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Milli Gengesh of Turkmenistan G.Mammedova received credentials from the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to Turkmenistan (with residence in Baku) Mr.Thomas Schuller-Gotzburg.
The Chairman of the National Parliament congratulated the guest on his appointment to a responsible diplomatic post, wishing him success in strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
The parties expressed interest in promoting trade and economic ties. In this regard, the importance of the Turkmen-Austrian business forum held on November 29, as well as the 11th meeting of the Turkmen-Austrian Joint Commission on business development and trade, which is taking place today in Ashgabat, was emphasized.
Cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian field was also discussed. In this context, it was noted that the Austrian-Turkmen Society, established in 2008, promotes various cultural events between the countries.
Thanking the Turkmen side for the wishes on the appointment to a high diplomatic post, the Austrian Ambassador to Turkmenistan assured that he would make every effort to further strengthen the Turkmen-Austrian relations.
Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks to Media at the Women in Comprehensive Defense Conference
Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: This conference is an important opportunity to bring together international and Georgian experts to talk about NATO’s comprehensive defense concept and Georgia’s approach to implementing that concept. Women play a central role in the comprehensive defense concept, and we will be discussing that more in the course of today’s conference. There are many examples in Georgia’s history when women have demonstrated the important role that they play in supporting the defense of their country.
That goes all the way back to King Tamar and many battles throughout this country where women have been essential in supporting the defense effort. This is just a modern version of that to ensure that the whole of society is prepared, whether it’s for a natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake or some kind of attack or malicious event. So there are many different aspects to NATO’s comprehensive defense concept, and we’ll be exploring those today.
Question about the European Parliament resolution
Ambassador Degnan: The United States is not part of the European Parliament. I can say that we weren’t involved in drafting this resolution. I can say that we also regret the continuing polarization of the political environment here in Georgia, and we would certainly agree with the call for the political stakeholders here to come together and implement ambitious democratic judicial and anti-corruption reforms. This is work that is underway, and it needs to be done in an inclusive fashion. I think Georgia has a very good track record of submitting draft legislation like this to the Venice Commission and other European expert bodies for their feedback on whether it does indeed meet European Union standards. At a time when the next very important step on Georgia’s path to its European future is at hand, candidate status, it seems particularly important and worthwhile to submit draft legislation to the Venice Commission to get their assessment of whether the legislation that’s been prepared is compatible and meets European standards. The United States will continue, as we have for the past 30 years, to support the clear will of the Georgian people to live in a secure, stable, prosperous democracy. That is why we are such strong supporters of the people of Georgia’s aspiration for European Union membership and a Euro-Atlantic future. I would hope that all of Georgia’s political leaders, including the ruling party and the opposition, would come together now and make sure that the work that is being done for candidate status is going to meet European Union standards. This is the moment, and I sincerely hope that Georgia’s leaders will accomplish this goal for the people of Georgia.
Question about a news report on European Business Association
Ambassador Degnan: I don’t know Mr. Lee, and I’m not familiar with the European Business Association, so I really don’t have a comment on this.
Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks to Media at ParliamentThursday, 06 October 2022 10:31
Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: Today was a great opportunity to come to Parliament with our new USAID Mission Director, John Pennell. We had a chance to talk about the many different areas of cooperation and partnership that USAID has throughout Georgia, from economic growth to energy independence, basic education, vocational education, industry-driven skills development, and of course, democracy and governance. We’ve done a lot of good work over the decades with Parliament on developing its oversight capabilities and helping to draft legislation in a number of different important ways that also protect the human rights of Georgian citizens. So, this was a wonderful opportunity to introduce our new USAID Mission Director. As the Speaker himself pointed out, much of his career has been spent in the development sector, in civil society, and so it was useful for us to exchange views on just how important of a role civil society and development organizations play in any government, especially here in Georgia where we’ve had such a long partnership over the last 30 years. I would say in that respect, some of the attacks against civil society have been particularly surprising. As many of the Members of Parliament who have worked in civil society before coming into government know, civil society plays a critical role in a healthy democracy. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to hear feedback from civil society, but that is their role. Their role is to protect the interests of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. Sometimes that feedback is uncomfortable, but they’re not there to work for the government. They’re not there to work for particular political parties. They’re there to work for the public and the rights of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. I think Georgia is fortunate to have a number of very professional, strong civil society organizations that are doing exactly that, whether it’s helping to clean the air, address climate change, or to help develop regulations that protect workers that improve communities. Civil society works across so many different sectors, and I think we should appreciate the good work that they do every day.
Question on new members of People’s Party
Ambassador Degnan: I’m not going to comment on the political developments in Georgia. I think the Georgian public can see very well what’s going on here. There is a confusing message coming from the government between aligning with those who seem to be moving to undermine the partnership between Georgia and the United States, and the statements from the Prime Minister and others about the importance of the partnership between the United States and Georgia and other strategic partners. I prefer to deal with facts. There’s plenty of disinformation and conspiracy theories out there. The facts are that for 30 years the United States has been committed to helping Georgia strengthen its security and supporting Georgia’s sovereignty. For 30 years, the United States has been supporting Georgia in developing its economy, in creating better jobs. I would say some of the good economic figures that we’re seeing in Georgia right now in part relate to the support that the United States, the EU, and other friends of Georgia provided to help cushion the outcome of the Covid pandemic and to help Georgia be in a good economic position coming out of this unprecedented situation, on top of the impact of the war or Russia’s war against Ukraine. For 30 years, the United States has also been trying to help Georgia build its democratic institutions so that the people of Georgia can have greater confidence that this country is moving toward a stronger, healthier democracy. That is what the people of Georgia have said they wanted for decades. The United States has been very proud and pleased to be able to help Georgia with all of those goals: stronger security, a stronger economy, and stronger democratic institutions. We look forward to continuing that partnership. Our meeting today with this speaker and his cabinet was a good chance to renew that partnership and to talk about the ways going forward that USAID and the US Embassy can continue to support Georgia on its path toward a Euro-Atlantic future. That’s what we all want to see: Georgia more fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family.
Question on de-oligarchization
Ambassador Degnan: The issue behind de-oligarchization in any country is how to address undue influence by anyone in the political or the economic processes of a country, anyone who’s trying to influence the operation of government and society through excess money or influence. It’s an issue that many countries grapple with, including my own. There are different ways that countries address undue influence in the political sector, and I think each country needs to debate that and come up with its own solution. I personally don’t think it’s always helpful to just borrow somebody else’s without tailoring it to the specifics of your country’s situation. There are many good examples out there that can be examined and crafted into something that is appropriate for Georgia, and the underlying problem, which is undue influence that affects the political will of the people. For instance, instead of having an election that reflects what the voters have voted, you have a distorted view because there’s been an undue influence on the process. What any law like this is meant to do is to try to ensure that there is transparency, accountability, and a level playing field so that the people’s voice is heard.
THE DELEGATION OF TURKMENISTAN PARTICIPATE IN THE PLENIPOTENTIARY CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNIONThursday, 29 September 2022 12:22
On September 26, 2022, the delegation of Turkmenistan headed by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkmenistan to Romania A.Annayev, participated in Bucharest in the opening ceremony of the Plenipotentiary Conference for 2022 (PP-22) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations, is the leading international organization for digitalization at the global level.
The Plenipotentiary Conference is held every four years with an aim to elect ITU leadership, adopt its four-year strategic and financial plans, and to debate telecommunication, information and communication technology policies and priorities.
Plenipotentiary Conference for 2022 (PP-22) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will continue from
26 September to 14 October, 2022.