The Georgian Service of the Voice of America celebrated its 65th anniversary on Thursday.
At a ceremony at VOA headquarters in Washington, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, Archil Gegeshidze, said his country’s independence from the Soviet Union “was largely due to the positive influence of programs from broadcasters like the Voice of America.”
VOA Georgian first aired on May 26, 1951. “During the Cold War, you played a critical role in helping Georgians understand the world beyond the Iron Curtain,” added U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly. In a video message from the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Kelly said that “since Georgia’s independence, VOA Georgian has helped build the foundation for a strong U.S.-Georgia relationship that we continue to enjoy today.”
Other U.S. and Georgian diplomats as well as human rights experts, representatives of the Georgian-American community and past members of the Georgian Service joined VOA Director Amanda Bennett in honoring the service.
“VOA Georgian was an alternative voice speaking to and for Georgians during the Cold War, and it remains so today,” said Bennett. “VOA is needed today more than ever. VOA is one of the few media outlets in the region that provide accurate and credible news and information as well as objective, free and fresh voices and perspectives.”
VOA Georgian reaches 7.7 percent of adults in Georgia each week. In addition to radio programming distributed nationwide on FM via Georgia’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, the service produces a weekly television magazine program, Washington Today, that is carried on Georgian Public TV. The show focuses on developments in the United States, American perspectives on major developments in the region, the Georgian diaspora, social issues, medicine, science, technology and culture.
“VOA Georgian audiences can always expect us to provide exclusive, reliable news and information,” said VOA Georgian Chief Anna Kalandadze, adding that she is “honored to work with the service’s dedicated journalists who continue to positively influence Georgia’s traditional and new media environments.”
The service also maintains a dynamic website, providing video reports on its YouTube channel and engaging the audiences through Facebook and other social media.