In remarks made at Tbilisi State University today, RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin
told an audience of 200 students and faculty that "there can be no freedom without free media. A free press is critical to the evolution of democracy."
Gedmin spoke at a ceremony at the oldest institution of higher education in the Caucasus, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.
In his acceptance remarks, Gedmin spoke about the challenges of building a vibrant democracy. He discussed the crucial role played by a free press and RFE's historic contributions to Georgian civil society.
Gedmin also highlighted RFE's newest initiative in the region, Ekho Kavkaza
, a Russian-language news service to the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Recipients of the honorary doctorate from Georgia's national university have included U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Estonian President Toomas Ilves, and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
During the three day visit to Tbilisi, Gedmin discussed corruption, media freedom, and civil society with a range of senior government officials, opposition activists, and NGO leaders. He was accompanied on the trip by two members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors
(BBG), RFE chairman Dennis Mulhaupt and Victor Ashe.
Last year, the Czech Minister of Defense awarded Gedmin the Golden Linden Medal
for his "exceptional role towards the expansion of NATO." Gedmin is a former director of the Aspen Institute Berlin and was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute where he led the New Atlantic Initiative. He holds a Ph.D. in German Area Studies and Linguistics from Georgetown University and is an honorary professor at the University of Konstanz (Germany).
About RFE's Georgian Service
RFE's Georgian Service, known locally as Radio Tavisupleba, began in 1953 as part of Radio Liberty's broadcasts to the Soviet Union. It broadcasts live on FM and online for four hours daily and produces a weekly cultural television program on Georgia Public Television. Radio Tavisupleba is widely regarded as the only unbiased source of information in Georgia.