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U.S. Congressmen Express ‘Growing Concern’ as Georgia ‘Abandons Promised Political Reforms’

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Co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Georgia Caucus Adam Kinzinger and Gerald E. Connolly sent a letter to Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, in which U.S. Congressmen expressed their “growing concern” about Georgian government’s recent decision to backtrack on its key promise of proportional polls from 2020, as well as “the reports of violence against peaceful protestors.”

“It is our hope that Georgian officials will resume negotiations immediately and pass this important reform package,” the Congressmen said in a letter of December 13, adding that “Georgia has been working on these reforms for years with the European Union and the Venice Commission. This commitment was made not only to the international community, but most importantly to the Georgian people.”

The two Congressmen also noted that “since declaring independence in 1991, Georgia has developed a strong democratic foundation and demonstrated a commitment to democratic values, including free and fair elections.” “That is why we were shocked to hear about the collapse of promised reforms in the Georgia Parliament to move to a proportional electoral system,” they added.

Emphasizing that “Georgians want a government of, for and by the people,” the letter underscored that Georgians “want a government that is more aligned with the West and they aspire to join NATO and the European Union.” It further stressed that “that is why many have taken to the streets to peacefully express their concerns, only to be met by violent thugs.”

The Congressmen wrote that “while any government has the right to use lawful and proportionate force against violent unrest, democracies must respect the right of citizens to use peaceful means to express their views,” adding that “the news  that hundreds of protestors, journalists, and political opposition leaders have been injured – and even hospitalized – by reportedly government-sanctioned violence is appalling.”

Underlining that Georgia has been reliable and strategic partner of the U.S. for almost thirty years, the Congressmen noted that the U.S. House of Representatives “recently demonstrated its commitment to Georgia” by passing the Georgia Support Act, that asserts the United States’ continued support for the independence and sovereignty of Georgia, as well as reaffirms U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in the region. Congressmen said that “It is now the Georgian government’s turn to follow through wit its commitment to the Georgian people.”

“We look forward to working with you to ensure that Georgia’s democracy only grows stronger in the years to come,” they concluded.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger released his first statement about Georgian Parliament’s downvoting the promised electoral reform on November 14. He then called on Georgian officials “to resume negotiations immediately and pass this important reform package.”

Ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition held three rounds of foreign diplomats-mediated negotiations since late November to solve the electoral reform crisis, but their meetings proved unsuccessful as the Georgian Dream party finds proposed solutions either anti-constitutional or deficient.

With 101 votes in favor and three against, the Georgian Parliament voted down the bill that would change Georgia’s mixed electoral system to fully proportional one from 2020, instead of 2024. While all of 44 MPs of opposition parties supported the bill, Georgian Dream’s three lawmakers voted against the amendment and 37 abstained, making the bill fall short of the needed 113 votes, three fourths of sitting 150 MPs.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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