“Less interesting from a practical point of view”
This is how Kobakhidze reacted to Senator Jean Shaheen’s statement about the proposal to revise the strategy towards Georgia, expressed in the US Senate during the discussion of the issue of Georgia.
In particular, Shaheen said that Georgia is experiencing “a huge setback”, while the US is providing significant support to the country to implement the reform program.
“I think part of this assistance should depend on how Georgia behaves,” the senator said.
According to Kobakhidze, the criticism voiced in the Senate “has no value” because it is unfair.
“Most of this funding goes to NGOs, so from a practical point of view, it is of less interest to us. As far as unfair criticism is concerned, unfair criticism is of no value to us. Valuable only that criticism, which has a specific justification. In this case, we once again heard unfair criticism, which has no value for us,” Kobakhidze said.
To a clarifying question, this means that it does not matter for Georgia whether the US will finance the country or not, Kobakhidze repeated:
“Whether NGOs will be funded or not, NGOs should be concerned about that, why should we be worried. This is mainly funding for NGOs, most of this [финансирования]’, said the politician.
Answering the following question, the chairman of the Georgian Dream stated that state institutions do not receive funding from the United States:
“Most of them are NGOs. I heard from one of the former ambassadors that reservations are irrelevant because they work through NGOs. This was said by one of the former US ambassadors, not me. I repeat practically the same thing, whether NGOs will be funded or not, let the NGOs worry about it,” Kobakhidze said.
From 1992 to the present, that is, over the past 30 years, the United States has allocated more than 6 billion US dollars in aid to Georgia.
For example, according to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, since 1997 Georgia has received more than $445 million in military funding from the United States. In 2022 alone, Georgia received US$35 million.
As US Ambassador Kelly Degnan said during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Georgia, America is trying to help Georgia build a strong and secure democracy.
“America has provided $6 billion in aid. More than 20,000 soldiers were retrained, more than 6,000 people were in America as part of cultural and educational programs. We also contribute [укреплению] economic growth, the rule of law and democratic governance, and [поддерживаем] many other initiatives,” said Kelly Degnan.
Degnan spoke in detail about US assistance to Georgia in an interview with Voice of America. She noted that 30 agencies are represented in the embassy, which have been working with representatives of Georgia for years in many areas, be it public health, education, exchange programs, etc.
“We also have a close relationship between our armed forces, which is one of the most important ways to help strengthen Georgia’s ability to join NATO. We also cooperate with law enforcement, border and coast guards. Now, after covid, we are helping Georgia to strengthen the economy. USAID has very strong programs to promote economic diversification and find new markets for Georgian products.
I would like to add that the goals of Georgia are our goals, and everything we do is aimed at supporting Georgia in building a strong democracy and economy. And, of course, in order for the country to be able to defend its territory,” the ambassador told Voice of America.