Sunday, February 28, 2021

Ian Kelly: The parties need to lower the temperature, resume negotiations and find a solution

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Of America Ex Ambassador in Georgia Jan. Kelly He says, that From the situation Solution To find more More Government Is a responsibility, However He Both On the side Calls, temperature To lay down And Everything To do In order, that From the crisis solution To find. He also He says, that One-party Parliament And Current Chaos of Georgia International Image Significantly Harms. Jan. KellyOf America SoundJournalist Violet Meurmishvili Talked to.

Former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly

Mr. Ian, thank you so much for taking the time to find us. You are closely observing the current events in Georgia. Before we go into details, how do you assess these recent events, what do you think is happening?

First of all thank you for the invitation. You are right, I am watching the current events in Georgia and what happened yesterday is the result of the ongoing polarization and lack of dialogue between the government and the opposition for weeks. Both sides need to evaluate priorities. The priority is to have a multi-party parliament. You can not exclude about 45 percent of the voters in the country and have a parliament where opposition parties are not represented. Everyone should focus on that. No one should do anything that will delay or damage this dialogue.

Dialogue is at a dead end. Especially now that Mr. Gharibashvili will be the Prime Minister. What do you think needs to be done to change the status quo?

I no longer represent the position of the American government. Georgia’s friends in America and Europe want Georgia to have a bright future. In this perspective, I mean greater integration into the Western community. Given that this is in the common interest of both Georgian government and opposition political leaders and the West, I think it is important for the United States, the European Union, and the West in general to play a positive role in trying to reduce tensions, to call on the parties to negotiate without preconditions. A solution must be found from this situation. The status quo, a one-party parliament is unacceptable in any case, especially for a country that wants to join the Western community.

The government is not going to make concessions on this issue, as it seems now. We should also add that the opposition has preconditions in the negotiations, but the government has more responsibilities. What do you think can be the impact of the current events on the international image of Georgia?

You are right. The government has more responsibilities. This is because the government has the power and resources to stay in power. It is the responsibility of the government to say that resolving the one-party situation by Georgians is a priority for the country. As for the consequences – they are deplorable, the consequences are very severe. First of all, one-party politics is extremely volatile. However, you have a hostile country in the north that is trying to make your government even more unstable. Georgians should not do this for Russia themselves. The second issue is that I am very sorry to say this, but there are many countries in the West that would be happy to write off Georgia and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

If such chaos, a one-party system continues in the country, all this will give them an excuse to write off Georgia, so to speak. The results are huge for everyone. Both the government and the opposition must lower the temperature, stop the rhetoric, which is very harsh on both sides, sit down and find a way out.

Do you think changing the Prime Minister will add new energy to the negotiations? Do you expect anything positive after the change of Prime Minister?

I hope. If a new person comes to the forefront, this opens up the possibility for the sheet to be flipped to a new and clean page. But I would like to see a signal from the government that they are ready to make this a priority, to avoid confrontation, to reach out to the opposition, and for the opposition to do the same by reducing the same rhetoric and temperature. Georgia is at a crossroads. The country can either continue a multi-party, pluralistic democracy, or stand in the way of the non-free countries that Georgia has around it.

You are well acquainted with Georgia and are even more familiar with American politics, how the policy-making process works in this country. Whether they should be concerned about the current situation in Georgia or not, the political saga is not over. What can happen in US-Georgia relations if the country fails to emerge from this impasse, and especially in the event of violence?

There is good news here as well as bad. The good news is that I think we have the most actively supporting transatlantic unity administration in America in the last 10 years. Both the President and the Secretary of State say they want a deeper and improved relationship with NATO. Secretary of State Blinken himself said that Georgia should become a member of NATO and that this would make Georgia more protected. That is, it’s good news.

Georgia has real friends and real partners who want everything the best for it. The bad news is that this crisis coincides with a time when the attention of the new administration is on the one hand distracted and on the other hand in the process of policy revision. They are not reviewing their relations with Georgia right now, because they have much bigger issues to look at. But when it comes to this, I hope, again for Georgia, that the country stands on the path of allegiance to a multiparty and pluralistic democracy.

Today, it is often said in Georgia that no government in the country has served more than two terms. What do you think about this opinion and do you think there are any lessons in this opinion that both the government and the opposition should take into account?

In the United States, we made that decision in the late 1940s after Franklin Delinor Roosevelt was re-elected for a fourth term, and we decided to do just that – limiting government activities for two terms. My point is not whether the same applies to Georgia. But if it applies to Georgia as well, this restriction should be included in the legislation. As a general principle, a limited term is a good principle, but it is up to Georgia to decide.

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Ian Kelly: The parties need to lower the temperature, resume negotiations and find a solution