With Georgia entering electoral season next year with parliamentary elections and then presidential election in 2013, “it’s quite important that the process of electoral code reform is addressed this year,” Tina Kaidanow, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, said on April 27.
“We are really encouraged to see that the grouping of opposition parties was willing to sit down, talk to the ruling party to try get through number of issues that really are important and that matter in a pre-electoral season,” she said.
Kaidanow was speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi after meeting of the U.S.-Georgia democracy working group in frames of the strategic partnership charter between the two countries.
Electoral system reform talks between the opposition and the ruling party in frames of Election Working Group format are suspended since March with sides accusing each other of bringing the talks to a deadlock. The most recent major development came on April 5, when the grouping of eight opposition parties presented their new proposals on the electoral system on which the ruling party has yet to give its response.
“The United States in not in the position to advocate any specific reforms,” Kaidanow said, adding that the role of the U.S. was “to encourage a dialogue” and “also reaching an agreement hopefully soon so that all the necessary things can be done in good time before the election season start.”
Earlier on Wednesday the U.S. delegation met with several leaders from the grouping of eight opposition parties.
Apart of electoral issues, the U.S.-Georgia democracy working group discussed broad range of other developments related to the reform process in Georgia, officials said after the meeting.
Kaidanow said that it was “a very productive conversation” as the format gives an opportunity to discuss various issues in a greater depth and to listen to each others’ concerns.
“Georgia is making a good progress towards the democratic future, but there’s lots of work to be done,” Kaidanow said.
“Today we talked about various topics and those include things as important as electoral code reform, judicial reform, rule of law, media reform and some other topics,” she said, adding that the U.S. remains deeply committed to provide assistance to Georgia on its path of reforms.
“We have faith that process of reform has a real momentum,” she said.
Along with Kaidanow, the U.S. delegation at the meeting was co-chaired by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.
The Georgian delegation was co-chaired by Sergi Kapanadze, the deputy foreign minister and Tinatin Burjaliani, the deputy justice minister. Several senior lawmakers from the ruling party, as well as an official from the Georgian National Communications Commission were also present at the meeting.
“We have informed [the U.S. delegation] about those ongoing reforms which are undertaken by the Georgian authorities,” Sergi Kapanadze said after the meeting. “We think that it was a very useful and productive meeting and exchange of views. It is our goal to make reforms even more efficient and to proceed with the reforms even faster.”