Department of State on TV Chief’s Prison Sentence

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price has said the U.S. will “continue to stand resolutely behind independent media, whether it’s in Georgia, whether it is anywhere around the world.”

The remarks came during his news briefing on May 17 in response to a Georgian journalist’s query about the prison sentence of Nika Gvaramia, chief of the major government-critical channel of Mtavari Arkhi TV. MORE

“When it comes to media freedom, you have heard us consistently speak to the indispensability of a free, independent media,” the Department of State spokesperson stressed.

“We have been quite clear, quite candid with our Georgian partners about the continued need to strengthen the pillars of democracy that we want to see bolstered in Georgia,” he said, “That includes democratic institutions; it includes the rule of law as well.”

“And we’ll continue to partner with the people of Georgia as they pursue a democratic, prosperous, peaceful, and Euro-Atlantic future,” he added.

Responding to the question on possible U.S. sanctions on Georgian authorities over their handling of human rights and press freedom, and their effect on bilateral Georgian-U.S. relations, the spokesperson said Georgia is considered U.S. strategic partner.

“And as a strategic partner, the United States is well positioned to encourage Georgia down the path of reform, to encourage Georgia to take on some of the improvements.”

“Georgia’s aspirations don’t occur overnight,” Price went on, adding that “they’re impossible to realize over the course of a single year, even a single decade. It takes hard work; it takes patience.”

“Part of our task is to continue to partner with Georgia, to continue to support them down that path, to do that with resources, with guidance, with direct support in many cases,” he added.

Asked further how much support should LGBTQI Georgians expect from the United States, Ned Price said the U.S. continues to support queer people all over the world as a matter of policy both rhetorically and through funding advocacy organizations

“We always call for universal rights to be protected and to be enshrined in democratic institutions,” he concluded.

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