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.
The annual celebration of World Health Day on April 7 is a significant event for both the Turkmen people and all progressive mankind.
This year, on April 7, the World Health Organization celebrates:
75th Anniversary, founded on a collective initiative of the countries of the world in 1948 and aimed at promoting the health of people, maintaining security in the world and serving the interests of vulnerable groups so that everyone, wherever they are, has the opportunity to achieve the highest level health and well-being.
The seventy-fifth anniversary of WHO is an occasion to remember the successes that have improved the quality of people's lives over the past seven decades. This year, it is also an opportunity to give impetus to action to address the pressing health problems of today and tomorrow.
April 7, 2023 is held under the slogan "Health for all".
At the same time, it is necessary to emphasize the following priorities of the World Health Organization, which are reflected in the strengthening of the multilateral cooperation of Turkmenistan with the states of the world and leading international structures in the field of healthcare:
• Health for all means good health and a fulfilling life for everyone in a prosperous and sustainable world without war or conflict.
• The right to health is one of the fundamental human rights.
• Ensuring access to universal health coverage, financial protection and strengthening family and community well-being.
Turkmenistan has been a member of the World Health Organization since 1992. Over the course of 31 years of joint cooperation, huge successes have been achieved aimed at improving the health of the population of Turkmenistan.
The right to health is one of the fundamental human rights and means that everyone should have access to health care without experiencing financial hardship. This principle is one of the priorities of the state policy of Turkmenistan.
During the years of independence, guided by the State Program "Saglyk" of the Hero-Arkadag Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, a lot of work has been done to protect the health of the population, establish the principles of a healthy lifestyle, develop physical culture and mass sports. A network of modern medical institutions was created throughout the country – “Ene mähri” and emergency ambulance centers, multidisciplinary hospitals and sanatoriums, and pharmaceutical enterprises. All the necessary conditions have been created for improving the health of the population, preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases with modern innovative methods, increasing human life expectancy, and ensuring the availability of high-quality medical services.
Many years of positive experience of cooperation with the World Health Organization and UN agencies is evidence of the successful implementation of a number of significant joint projects and programs in various priority areas of national health, and the success and outstanding achievements of Turkmenistan in ensuring public health are marked by international certificates and certificates of recognition of the eradication of dracunculiasis, eradication of poliomyelitis, as well as international awards for universal salt iodization, elimination of malaria, for leadership in the fortification of flour with iron and folic acid, a document confirming the absence of measles and rubella in Turkmenistan.
WHO supports the position of Turkmenistan in addressing issues of maternal and child health by supporting the development of national strategies and action plans for child and adolescent health and reproductive health.
Over the years of joint cooperation, the WHO Regional Office for Europe has also supported the promotion of Turkmenistan's initiatives at the international level, twice electing Turkmenistan to the Standing Committee of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.
WHO and Turkmenistan are successfully collaborating in the fight against TB to achieve a global end to the TB epidemic by 2035. Collaboration has been strengthened to combat antimicrobial resistance and strengthen the capacity of the public health laboratory service.
Within the framework of cooperation, surveillance of infectious diseases has been strengthened and preventive measures have been introduced to prevent their spread, examples of which are the National Concept for Integrated Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases, the National Immunization Program, and strengthening the routine immunization system.
With the support of WHO, various activities are being carried out aimed at maintaining the status of the country as a “territory free from the circulation of wild polioviruses”.
Joint initiatives agreed at a high level are being successfully implemented, namely, supporting the participation of Turkmenistan in a special program of the World Health Organization for the study of the coronavirus genome. Strengthened national capacity for genetic sequencing of viruses, including influenza and SARS-CoV-2. In February 2023, whole genome sequencing of 10 influenza virus samples was performed by National Laboratory Virologists and submitted to the Global Initiative to Share All Influenza Data (GISAID) platform. On July 4, 2022, a High-Level Sub-Regional Consultative Meeting was held in Ashgabat to promote the One Health concept for the countries of Central Asia.
In Turkmenistan, the fight against non-communicable diseases is one of the main priorities, closely linking them with the implementation of the 2030 Global Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Second WHO European High-Level Conference “Time to Keep the Promise – Meeting the Challenges of Combating Noncommunicable Diseases to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe”, which was held in Ashgabat in 2019, pushed the implementation of the commitments made at the UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, and also measures to support countries in their implementation. In 2024, Turkmenistan plans to hold the third high-level conference on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in honor of 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Ashgabat Declaration on Noncommunicable Diseases. This is also the political commitment of Turkmenistan to maintain and strengthen a healthy lifestyle through the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.
The effectiveness of national efforts and international partnerships in this direction was highly appreciated by all forum participants and, above all, by the World Health Organization and its Regional Office for Europe, with the presentation of a certificate of recognition by the World Health Organization for the country's outstanding contribution to the prevention of non-communicable diseases on behalf of the WHO Director-General, Mr.Tedros Ghebreyesus.
Adopted by the National Strategy "Healthy Mother - Healthy Child - Healthy Future", the National Program for Improving the Immunity of the Population in Turkmenistan, the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases for 2021-2025 and the National Program for Turning Turkmenistan into a Tobacco-Free Country for 2022 -2025 years have significantly optimized the activities of the health care system.
Particular importance is attached to the development of mass physical culture and sports, the Olympic movement, and relevant national programs are being successfully implemented aimed at improving primary health care, ensuring the provision of quality basic medical services, taking into account vulnerable groups of the population and based on the principles of justice, gender equality and respect for rights. human beings, promoting the health and well-being of all people at all ages.
A modern infrastructure has been formed in the healthcare system. Medical centers, specialized clinics, sanatoriums equipped with innovative technologies have been built in the capital and in all velayats of the country. On this basis, great success has been achieved in the formation of an advanced sports and recreation infrastructure that meets international standards.
The activities of the established charitable foundation to assist children in need of care named after Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov are aimed at addressing issues of protecting public health, in the field of motherhood and childhood. All this is evidence of a positive result in the modernization of the national healthcare system, improving the standard of living and well-being of every person - the highest value of the Turkmen society and state.
Most of the State budget is directed to financing the social sphere, including reforming the healthcare and education systems.
With the beginning of the development of a new type of coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and over the past years, Turkmenistan has received support from the WHO and UN agencies. Based on the guidelines of the WHO Strategic Plan for Preparedness and Response to COVID-19, the country approved and successfully implemented a joint Plan for Preparedness and Response of Turkmenistan for Acute Infectious Disease, focusing on the main areas of WHO COVID-19 activities related to prevention, treatment, diagnosis and vaccination of COVID-19.
The ongoing program changes and reforms are an effective incentive for the further development of the healthcare system and the medical industry of independent and neutral Turkmenistan and lay the foundation for further cooperation in the field of healthcare.
On World Health Day, Turkmenistan once again expresses its full support for the activities of the WHO, thanks the leadership and staff of the Organization for their selfless and professional work. Our country will continue to closely cooperate with the World Health Organization and is ready to continue to provide it with all possible assistance.
Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan
Amid the ongoing natural and human crisis in the global community including the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and the Russia-Ukraine war, the 1st ‘HWPL International Workshop on Peace Journalism’ was held online on the 18th of February with about 150 participants from about 30 countries. Under the theme “A Road to Institutional Peace for Sustainable Development”, the workshop aimed to enhance peace journalism and international media networks.
The event was organized by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) with support from 28 media worldwide. HWPL, a South Korea-based international peace NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC and the UN DGC, has carried out global peace movements for world peace and cessation of war since its foundation in 2013.
The workshop included the celebration of a publication of "Peace Journalism Studies" which was collaborated by HWPL and international journalists with their expertise and perspective on peace. The topics of the "Peace Journalism Studies" ranged from analyzing conflict situations and peacebuilding efforts with a country case to the role of civil society in bringing social changes through advocacy of peace.
Dr. Salim Khan, director of News & Views Network (NVN) from India said “Journalists should play important role in spreading the message of love and justice. I expect that this HWPL online event on journalism will bring fresh ideas with regards to the role of media in peacebuilding and raise awareness facilitating the advocacy of peace in the society.” from his congratulatory address,
Mr. Robert Maseka, founder of Rob Youth Foundation from Namibia delivered ”We need to make sure that we promote a global media network that will promote democracy, human rights, and good governance. Through collaboration we are able to give the right information, we can communicate and unite the world.”
After 2 guest speakers’ congratulatory addresses, 3 journalists gave presentations who contributed to the publication of "Peace Journalism Studies."
Ms. Frieda Sila Kana, the journalist of Digital Media Venture in Papua New Guinea, delivered conflict and violence in Papua New Guinea, saying “Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusations Related Violence is an emerging trend of violence and enemy of peace (in Papua New Guinea). The actions of inflicting pain causing death is barbaric, intense and inhumane that it cannot be ignored.”
Mr. Ihor Shevyrov, the publicity ambassador of HWPL and a journalist from Ukraine, emphasized, “International peace should be built not only by the UN, but also by every country. Democracy, openness and freedom of civil society, the level of protection of the rights and freedoms of every person, as well as peace education and a culture of peace are decisive for building sustainable peace in any country. All these principles are clearly defined in the 10 articles of the founding DPCW Peace Declaration. United Nations needs new peace convention on DPCW.”
Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War(DPCW) is an international peace law drafted by the HWPL International Law Peace Committee, which is comprised of international law experts from 15 different countries. Consisting of 10 articles and 38 clauses, the DPCW, embodies the principles and measures for preventing and resolving conflicts and sustaining a peaceful global society.
Ian Seo, general director of public relations department of HWPL said, “Peace as an institution from people having a mind of peace and various organizations collectively supporting peace and taking actions gradually becomes habits, customs, norms, ideas, laws, and ultimately a culture of peace. The HWPL International Workshop on Peace Journalism: A Road to Institutional Peace for Sustainable Development is appealing to all of you to take the role of media as a messenger of peace to develop it as an identity of individuals and as a global culture.”
In response to the need for strengthening the peace network of the world's media, HWPL plans to publish Peace Journalism Studies and hold events regularly where journalists can discuss and share opinions to enhance peace journalism.
The full version of "Peace Journalism Studies" can be downloaded on the website: Peace Journalism Studies (https://c11.kr/19wr2).
Travel restrictions imposed by a few countries on Chinese tourists are "ridiculous," said some media reports on the latest discriminatory entry requirements targeting China.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
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.
Joint Media Statements by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia and Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of AzerbaijanTuesday, 25 October 2022 12:12
Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia:
“I am honored to host Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Georgia today. I wish to thank Mr. President for visiting us. Considering the kind neighborly relations, strategic partnership and cooperation agenda existing between our countries, Your visit has the greatest significance. Herewith, I wish to note your immeasurable contribution in approximating the relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia and in strengthening our friendship and brotherhood. Truly unique relations and friendship exist between our nations. It is based on close historic ties and mutual respect. I am strongly convinced that such high level relations will be further strengthened for the benefit of our people and our countries.
We also spoke about the existing energy, economic, trade and transport projects, as well as their importance. Georgia is one of the most significant countries and friends of Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan is the most important strategic partner of Georgia.
“We are delighted to visit your beautiful country and I am happy to be at this gorgeous place. This wind reminds me of Baku and it confirms that even wind is welcoming us in Georgia. I thus feel at home.
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.
In order to improve and maintain on a systematic basis the rules for the stay of citizens of Turkmenistan in the Republic of Türkiye, the Turkmen side requested the state of the Republic of Türkiye to introduce on a temporary basis a visa regime of various categories for citizens of Turkmenistan.
Ministry of Foreign affairs of Turkmenistan.
On August 22, 2022, the media forum "International Initiatives of Turkmenistan: New Horizons of Cooperation" dedicated to the results of the International Conference of Ministers of Transport of Landlocked Developing Countries was held in the conference hall of the State Committee of Turkmenistan on Television, Radio Broadcasting and Cinematography.
The main goal of the forum, held in Turkmen, Russian and English languages, is the role of the media in further strengthening international cooperation. One of the main topics discussed was the significance of the new constructive initiatives put forward by President Serdar Berdimuhamedov at the International Conference held on August 15-16, 2022.
The event was attended by the heads and representatives of relevant structures, TV and radio channels, the State News Agency, editors of newspapers and magazines, foreign media accredited in Turkmenistan, as well as videoconferencing - journalists from the world's leading news agencies.
The speakers emphasized that the active position of Turkmenistan in consolidating efforts to develop solutions to urgent tasks related to the achievement of the SDGs, where a significant role is assigned to the transport sector, was noted at the conference in the Avaza National Tourist Zone. Much attention was paid to initiatives and major projects jointly implemented with foreign partners to create an extensive multimodal transport, transit and logistics infrastructure on a regional and transcontinental scale.
The media forum, organized in a hybrid format, was also attended by representatives of foreign media, in particular, ITAR-TASS, TRT, Anadolu Ajansi, CIS + WORLD / CIS + CHINA, CGTN-Russian , "Russia-24", the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), "AzTV", Interstate TV and Radio Company "Mir", "Korean Broadcasting System".
Representatives of foreign media especially noted the timeliness of holding a representative forum and its importance in the context of developing new political recommendations that are in demand by the time, aimed at strengthening transport interconnection, which is significant for the future of all states, especially for developing countries that do not have access to the sea.
Expressing gratitude to the President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov for the attention paid to the development of national media, the participants stressed that the current media forum has become a good platform for the exchange of experience between relevant structures and building up long-term international cooperation in this area.
Ambassador Degnan: Well, it’s a beautiful day to be here at the Regional Hub, which is a wonderful example of the great partnership between the Peace Corps and the local communities here along the Administrative Boundary Line. There’s a long history here between Peace Corps and the communities here trying to help youth, to support entrepreneurs, and just to improve the quality of life here for the people living along the ABL. This is a really exciting time because we know how much Georgians have missed our Peace Corps volunteers. We’ve missed them a lot too, and we’re looking forward to them coming back very soon, not just here in the Mtskheta area, but throughout Georgia. So, today is a day for us to celebrate that wonderful partnership between Peace Corps volunteers and all they’ve done with their great partners here in the regional hub.
Question about a letter from former GD MPs about judicial reform
Ambassador Degnan: Let me start by saying that for decades we have been working with Georgia on judicial reform, and there has been some very important progress over the course of the last decade in particular, where we’ve seen some good reform efforts. Everyone knows that there is more work to be done there. That has never been an issue of debate, so it’s a little puzzling why there is such resistance now to doing the work that everybody has been saying for a long time: it needs to continue to improve Georgia’s judiciary, to make sure that it truly is independent, impartial, autonomous, and responsive to the public. In this case, it is baffling to me why there is a question about the kind of consultation that has been ongoing, not just with the United States, but with other legal experts, domestic and international, for decades on judicial reform. That consultative process has resulted in improvements in Georgia’s judiciary. There is more to be done, and that includes commitments that the Georgia’s political leaders across the political spectrum have already agreed to multiple times over multiple years: that these kinds of improvements still need to be made.
There are recommendations from the Venice Commission and ODIHR. These are international legal experts who provide this kind of advice globally to countries like Georgia and other countries as to how to improve their judicial system. Many of them have been fulfilled. Many of them have not. These are the same steps. These are the same reforms that Georgia’s political leaders have agreed to do, both in the April 19th agreement, after the April 19th agreement, and before the April 19th agreement. Some of these are now being discussed in the judicial working groups that Parliament is hosting, and that the opposition and civil society have also contributed to this group. Obviously, the United States has also helped Georgia for many years in building its democratic institutions. That includes a diverse Parliament that represents the Georgian public.
I’m not sure what this group (the quartet) represents. I’m not sure who they represent, and I’m not sure how different they are from the ruling party that they say they left. What I can say is that the accusations that they most recently made against the United States and others are reckless conspiracy theories that have no basis. In fact, it’s very important to keep in mind that the United States works with all political parties across the political spectrum. We meet with Georgians from across the political spectrum, and we have for over 30 years. This is how we know how we can better support Georgia in trying to help Georgia develop its democratic institutions, develop its economy, ensure that it is more secure and stable as a democracy. This is the work that we’ve been doing with our Georgian partners for over 30 years and what we will continue to do in the coming years. I would say that any accusations that we are responsible in any way for the polarization that exists here is an attempt to shift the blame from those who know they are responsible to Western partners, who have done nothing but tried to help Georgia for 30 years along its European path. That is all we have done. I can say from the two and a half years that I’ve been here. Almost every single day, I have worked to try and bring Georgia’s political leaders together to try and bridge the deep polarization that existed long before I got here. And I think it’s important for Georgians to remember, to look back three years, four years, and remember where this depolarization came from. Things like Gavrilov’s night, things like broken political promises and anti-democratic actions. That’s where this depolarization came from, not from Western partners, who again, have only been trying to help Georgia bridge this deep polarization so that the Parliament and other institutions can focus on what’s really important to Georgians: jobs, high prices, good education, better public health. That’s what Parliament needs to be focusing on, and now, in particular, the 12 recommendations that the European Commission has put forward, including pledges that Georgia’s political leaders have made before, and said they were going to do. This is the time to get that done. This is the time to really focus, in an inclusive manner, together, to put aside differences and focus on getting that candidate status.