“Georgia is our strategic partner. We have witnessed an amazing reversal of democratic progress. So surprising that the EU made different decisions regarding Georgia and Ukraine and Moldova. This clearly indicates that the EU is seeing a pullback. We saw the criticism of our ambassador, the failure of judicial reform. What is our strategy?” the senator turned to Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and asked if Georgia had made any progress lately.
Donfried responded that Georgia has made “significant progress” since independence, but that “what we’ve been seeing lately is alarming.”
“As you know, the United States has been working closely with Georgia since its independence. Over these decades, we have witnessed significant progress…
Our strategic partnership has been built on this progress. What we are seeing lately is worrying because we are also seeing a regression from a democratic point of view. I was in Georgia on the day when the European Commission was discussing next week’s decision, according to which Georgia will receive a European perspective, and Ukraine and Moldova will receive candidate status.
In Georgia, this was met very emotionally. Representatives of civil society wept. As you know, Georgia was a leader on the way to EU membership. 85% of the population supports Euro-Atlantic aspirations. This puts pressure on the government.
We say to the government: we and the EU will help you to carry out the necessary reforms. We still hope that there will be progress, although we are concerned about its absence today,” the diplomat said.
According to Donfried, the criticism of US Ambassador Kelly Degnan is “outrageous” and could “undermine” cooperation between the two countries:
“You mentioned outrageous criticism [в адрес] our ambassador. The Ambassador fantastically represents the United States. We discussed this with the government and the prime minister. Although the groups [критикующие Дегнан] are not part of the government, some groups critical of [посла]associated with the government. We have made it clear that this criticism undermines the partnership.”
Ben Cardin, for his part, stressed that Georgia’s progress is essential to continued US support:
“I emphasize that Georgia is important for the US, although the US criticizes Georgia. We must make it clear that [нужен] clear progress towards democratic goals. Georgia must embark on the path of European integration. We must make it clear that this is necessary to continue supporting the US.”