23 June, 2011

Last week USA Department of State responded to the recent events connected with ‘Media Palitra’ and a representative delegation of US Embassy visited the office of the Holding. Together with Kent Logsdon, acting Ambassador of USA, among the guests were Eric Holmgren, Political and Economic Officer of the US Embassy, Michael Harvey, Press Attache of the Embassy and other officials.

The Embassy representatives got acquainted with the work of the media, met with

the Media Holding management and received information about the financial inspection of ‘Media Palitra’.

K.L. – I’m glad to visit Media House ‘Palitra’ on behalf of the US Embassy. This is my first visit and I’d like to tell you that whatever I saw here was very impressive. As I witnessed it, you are engaged in a great spectrum of media activity: integrated newsroom, internet TV, radio, magazines and newspapers, thematically varied published books. It’s impressive also that various groups of professionals are undertaking all this and, totally, very many people are employed. It’s obvious that ‘Palitra’ Publishing House has a significant role in Georgian media space.

Q. – Recent simultaneous inspection of several companies of the Holding raised some doubts in public. The authorities declare that the qualms are groundless as it’s a routine audit. Your opinion in this regard would be very important.

K.L. – The US Government as well as Georgian authorities take the issue of taxes, corporate responsibilities rather seriously and consider it to be very significant. Without correct, legitimate collection of taxes the resources and revenues that ensure renovation of cities and of the whole country in general as well as its proper functioning, are not accrued. Representatives of international community are observing the recent events developing about ‘Media Palitra’ with big interest and this issue makes them anxious. This anxiety doesn’t mean at all that the Government is not authorized to ensure tax-collection; of course it has the right to do it.

But some doubt creeps in due to strange coincidence of audit and May 25-26 protest rallies and events that followed these actions; internet television ‘Palitra TV’ covered everything objectively and promptly. Comments with regard to this day have already been done by John Bass when speaking about necessity of full and detailed investigation of the facts connected with May 26. These circumstances cause agitation.

The anxiety is also caused by the coincidence that the tax services started simultaneous inspection of six independent organizations of the Media House. I’d like to express my support on behalf of the USA Embassy. We should keep up and continue close relations in future as well. The Embassy will watch closely the process of financial inspection planned to be carried out in ‘Media Palitra’ by revenue services.

Q. – Thank you for supporting the freedom of press. As for the May 26 events, I had an impression that there was an attempt to politicize the declaration made by Mr. Bass before May 26. Some politicians even called it a ‘sanction for dispersion of the rally’. What are the recent attempts to present the US Embassy and America in general in the negative light connected with?

K.L. – As you have noted this declaration was made by Mr. Ambassador and John Bass doesn’t take his words back. As for the May 26 night, of course we are very sorry for it. We are sorry that people died at that tragic night. This is the reason why Mr. Bass and the US Government deem it necessary that those dramatic events be fully and adequately investigated.

Q. – What would you say about the degree and state of democracy in Georgia?

K.L. – Civil society in US is rather strong and it plays significant role in the life of the state. Civil society ensures and it is one of the guarantors that all the processes undergoing in the country will be transparent, just and equal.

Every government should understand the role of the positive potential that civil society has in the life of the country – it has a certain mission at least indicating to the government what it should or shouldn’t do. We were lucky that after the August 2008 events $1 billion aid packet was allotted to Georgia. We were given a chance to give additional resources to those spheres which we had wanted to assist but couldn’t; we accentuated the aspects that are very important for Georgia. Development of civil society is one of such most important issues.

Q. – Due to your career of a diplomat you have worked in many countries; you’ve been in Georgia for quite some time now. What’s your impression about Georgia?

K.L. – My three-year term of diplomatic service is expiring this summer and it’s a pity that I’ll have to leave Georgia. I’ve seen a lot of interesting, quite new things here. Georgia is a country of unique culture, interesting for its people and history. I’ll never forget the impressions that I acquired in your country and the friendship that originated during my working and living here will last forever. Your country has a vast potential. I’m sure you’ll overcome all the difficulties and Georgia will reach the level of development that its best children aspire– with respect to democracy, economy and statehood, in general.