Senior U.S. Official Says Georgian Gov’t ‘Eroded’ Democratic Process

Speaking about Georgia’s work on democratic development and rule of law, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Erika Olson voiced concern on December 8 that the Georgian Dream Government’s actions have “eroded some of that democratic process.”

Addressing the Foreign Policy‘s virtual dialogue “Great Power Plays in the South Caucasus,” she noted that the ruling party has committed to judicial and electoral reforms and “we really want to see it follow through on those commitments.”

Referring to the EU-brokered April 19 agreement between the GD and the opposition, the Deputy Assistant Secretary said that the U.S. as a close partner wishes to help Georgia enact the reforms that “they themselves have decided are important for the future of the country.”

“We will continue to engage very strongly,” she vowed, adding that “I have delivered tough messages when it is necessary, I think that is an important part of friendships.”

The senior U.S. diplomat’s remarks come following Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s criticism of the GD over the appointment of four Supreme Court judges as well as possible backtracking on the constitutional amendments envisaged by the EU-mediated deal.

Besides Georgia’s reforms, Deputy Assistant Secretary Olson discussed relations and cooperation between the South Caucasus countries.

She hailed Tbilisi’s efforts and initiatives to bring together Baku and Yerevan for talks, highlighting that the three countries need to “cooperate and achieve positive outcomes together,” to build a regional relationship independently.

The U.S. official said Washington wants to be a transparent and honest broker in bringing the three countries together, going on to stress that Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia should be able to “chart their own path” without outside interference.

The discussion was organized by the U.S. news publication Foreign Policy, in partnership with the America – Georgia Economic Cooperation Foundation, freshly established by Former Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze.

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