US Embassy Tbilisi Warns of Severe Flooding, Escaped Zoo Animals

Posted: 3:26 pm  PDT
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On June 14, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia issued an emergency message warning U.S. citizens in Tbilisi of severe flooding as well as escaped zoo animals in the city:

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi informs U.S. citizens that flooding in Tbilisi last night caused significant damage, including several casualties. A number of zoo animals also escaped. Although some have been captured, others remain at large. There are numerous road closures around the city, including Heroes Square and parts of the river road. Residents should exercise caution and avoid affected areas, particularly those adjacent to the zoo.

The embassy also expressed sympathy for the casualties and readiness to assist the government:

The United States wishes to express its condolences to all those in Tbilisi who have suffered as a result of the devastating flooding over the past 24 hours. We mourn the loss of 12 lives. Ambassador Norland and Mayor Narmania spoke this afternoon. The Ambassador affirmed our readiness to assist the government and people as they mourn the dead, treat the injured, and assess the extensive losses and damage caused by this natural disaster.

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Photo of the Day: Ambassador Norland climbs Georgia’s chapel-on-a-rock

Posted: 11:27 am EDT
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Via US Embassy Tbilisi from Ambassador Richard Norland:

“Georgia is an amazing combination of rich cultural and religious traditions. Mary and I were in Batumi over the weekend, attending the Georgian Muslim Union’s International Forum on Religion and Peace. On our way home, we drove through Chiatura — a hardy mining community finding its way forward by drawing on a combination of Soviet-era infrastructure and modern investment including from the U.S. firm Georgian-American Alloys.

En route, we happened upon the 1000-year old church at Qatskhi, and the amazing chapel-on-a-rock nearby, where Father Maksim carries on a centuries-old tradition of residing alone atop the huge stone promontory. With Father Maksim’s blessing, my security guard and I scaled the iron ladder planted into the side of the rock. Wet with rain, steep and narrow, it was an unforgettable trip up — and down! At the top, the solitude of the small ancient chapel and the monk’s simple quarters was inspiring.”

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Image via US Embassy Tbilisi/FB

Active link added above.  The Katskhi Pillar photo is by Levan Nioradze http://bit.ly/1bfkfDn Levan Nioradze’s Photoworks.  It is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in the western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura. Read more here. Click here for more photos from US Embassy Tbilisi.

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Nomination: Ian C. Kelly — From Diplomat in Residence UIC to US Embassy Georgia

Posted: 00:12 am EDT
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On March 12, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Ian C. Kelly as the next ambassador to Georgia. The Wh released the following brief bio:

Ian C. Kelly, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a position he has held since 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Kelly served as U.S. Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna, Austria from 2010 to 2013.  Mr. Kelly was Spokesperson in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs from 2009 to 2010, Director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs from 2007 to 2009, and Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 2004 to 2007.  He was an Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy from 2000 to 2004, an Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey from 1997 to 2000, and a Program Officer in the Office of the Coordinator of Newly Independent States Assistance from 1994 to 1996.  Prior to that, Mr. Kelly held positions at U.S. Missions in Austria, Serbia, the former USSR, and Italy.  Before joining the Foreign Service in 1985, he taught Russian language in the former USSR and at Barnard and Columbia Colleges in New York City.

Mr. Kelly received a B.A. from Saint Olaf College, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly speaks at the Open Skies Treaty Review Conference.

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly speaks at the Open Skies Treaty Review Conference. (photo by state.gov)

The current Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland who was appointed by President Obama as chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi in 2012 released the following statement:

I am pleased that the White House has nominated such an experienced and well-respected colleague to succeed me later this year here in Georgia.  His candidacy will next be considered by the U.S. Senate, and subject to Senate confirmation we would expect him to arrive in Tbilisi sometime after my anticipated departure upon completion of my 3-year tour later this summer.  One of the most difficult parts of being a professional diplomat is to contemplate leaving a place one has come to know and love, but that is in the nature of this profession.  In the months until my departure, it will continue to be my honor to do my best to advance U.S.-Georgia relations and promote democracy, security and prosperity in this remarkable, historic land.

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Photo of the Day: US Embassy Tbilisi Gets a Visit from Batman

US Embassy Tbilisi fbposted: “Look who joined the US Embassy Tbilisi to celebrate Halloween!”  There is no truth to the rumors that Ambassador Richard Norland masqueraded as batman.

But move over Christian Bale

 

– DS