A bilateral U.S.-Georgia democracy working group under the strategic partnership charter between the two countries met in Washington on April 16 and discussed “efforts to further strengthen democratic institutions” in Georgia, according to the U.S. Department of State.
The working group on democracy is one of those four inter-agency bilateral groups, which were established to address priority areas of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Charter, which was signed in January, 2009. Other priority areas of cooperation identified by the charter are security, economic and people-to-people relations.
Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze represented the Georgian side at the meeting in which the U.S. was represented by Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon; Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Thomas Melia.
“Discussions focused on recognizing Georgia’s reform achievements to date and efforts to further strengthen democratic institutions and electoral processes, media freedom, rule of law, and judicial independence. Georgia will hold parliamentary elections this fall and presidential elections in 2013,” the U.S. Department of State said on April 16.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “broad range of ongoing and carried out democratic reforms” were discussed, including amended electoral code and preparations for parliamentary elections this October. It also said that cooperation within Open Government Partnership – a U.S. initiative uniting governments of over 50 countries committed to promoting transparency, fighting corruption and increasing civic participation, was also discussed.
In lead up to the Democracy Working Group meeting in Washington, the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi hosted on April 12 a video conference between Georgian opposition representatives and officials from the Department of State and the U.S. foreign aid agency (USAID). Davit Usupashvili, leader of Republican Party; Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats – both are members of Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition; MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of New Rights Party, participated in the video conference with Washington and discussed pre-election environment. Before that a similar video conference was also held with representatives from the Georgian civil society organizations.