June 18, 2013 1 Comment
US Ambassador Richard Norland talked about international affairs affecting Georgians and addressed questions from GIPA students and faculty members on Monday, July 17, 2013. He began his talk by expressing his sympathy for the 7 Georgian soldiers who had recently been killed in Afghanistan and he discouraged any thoughts of Georgia withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Ambassador Norland then carefully discussed Georgia’s desire to become a member of NATO. Although Georgia’s participation with NATO troops has been greatly appreciated, and although it gives Georgian troops valuable experience, there is no quid pro quo; in other words, just because Georgian sends the largest contingent of troops of any country outside NATO does not mean that it will be able to join NATO. Georgia must continue to meet all of the technical requirements and then the NATO countries will vote on admission.Ambassador Norland also addressed the controversial videotape, seemingly produced by Taliban fighters, who declare jihad on Georgia. Do not take such videos on face value, warned Norland. Moreover, it appears that the tape was uploaded in Georgia, so it may not have been produced by Al Qaeda. In terms of recent US press coverage of Georgia, Norland condemned the New York Times story about poorly behaving Georgian troops in Afghanistan; it was a one-sided story and sloppy reporting, he said. Norland also condemned a Washington Post editorial that democracy is at risk in Georgia.
I asked one question: What is the state of journalism in Georgia? Ambassador Norland seemed reluctant to answer the question, although he vaguely said either that it is less partisan or that there are more points-of-view in the market.