Talking about disagreements is crucial, Ambassador Degnan says
Talking about disagreements is crucial, Ambassador Degnan says

We have a very long friendship with Georgia, and like all good friends, sometimes we disagree. We need to be able to talk about our disagreements, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told reporters on Tuesday.

Journalists’ questions concerned judge Lasha Chkhikvadze and sanctions against him.

“We have a very long friendship with Georgia and like all good friends, sometimes we disagree. We need to be able to talk about our disagreements and we do that usually in private is most effective. Sometimes we speak out publicly if it’s an issue that we have great concerns about, and that’s what we did in this case, we issued public statements expressing the United States’ concern about the timing and the charges involved.

The United States was not alone in expressing these concerns. A Public Defender, a number of NGOs, and several other international friends of Georgia had the same concerns. So this is not something that was done in secret. This was done quite publicly, and it is quite a normal thing to have happened. This is standard practice. I think it’s being spun up. I think a lot of is being made out of something that is absolutely not a scandal. It’s very routine business.

The United States has spent a long time working with Georgia’s judiciary, building capacity, and trying to improve the professionalism, transparency, the independence of the judicial system and that has involved a lot of exchanges between the United States experts and the Georgian judges, prosecutors, and attorneys. Again, these are routine meetings that happen all the time. And if people want to mischaracterize them or spin them up into more than what they are, which is just routine meetings, then that is obviously for their own purposes.

Our exchange programs and we have over 6,000 Georgians on exchange programs for a variety of reasons, educational, cultural, and judicial. They are open to anyone who is qualified, available, and open to benefiting from the purpose of these exchanges, which is to go to meet with American counterparts, exchange views, learn from each other, and then bring that back to Georgia.

And that’s what these exchange programs are for. They’ve been extremely popular and successful over the years, and I’m confident that they will continue to be so,” Ambassador Degnan said.

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