U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Kara McDonald has concluded her June 10-13 visit to Georgia during which she met with government officials, opposition politicians, civil society, and media to discuss key issues facing the country. During her visit, McDonald voiced critical message of Washington’s “deep concern about Georgia’s democratic trajectory.”
In Tbilisi on June 10, DAS McDonald met with Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, with the two sides discussing Georgia’s EU aspirations and Washington’s continued support for the nation.
The parties noted the ongoing role of the U.S. in the implementation of democratic reforms in Georgia, especially in light of Georgia awaiting decision on its EU candidate status, per Georgian Foreign Ministry’s press release.
DAS Mcdonald also met with the Georgian Prime Minister’s Human Rights Advisor, Niko Tatulashvili, with emphasis placed on the Georgian Government’s “special responsibility to govern inclusively and to safeguard human rights for all.”
Meetings with the Opposition
The Deputy Assistant Secretary met with representatives of the major opposition parties including United National Movement chairperson Nika Melia and UNM MP Khatia Dekanoidze; For Georgia MP Ana Buchukuri; Strategy Aghmashenebeli chairperson MP Giorgi Vashadze; MP Khatuna Samnidze, leader of the Republican Party; European Georgia’s Giorgi Kandelaki, Badri Japaridze of the Lelo Party, Elene Khoshtaria of Droa party, Girchi – More Freedom’s Zurab Japaridze party.
The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi stated after the meeting that “the opposition plays a vital role in representing citizens’ interests and holding government accountable in any vibrant democracy.”
Meetings with Civil Society, Public Defender
The State Department official also met with key representatives of civil society, including representatives from GYLA, ISFED, Transparency International Georgia, to discuss judiciary and press freedom, among others.
Nazi Jazenashvili, judiciary watchdog and former member of Georgia’s High Council of Justice told reporters that they discussed Georgian “court suffering from a lack of institutional independence.” “Legislation is changing, reforms are carried out but the court accountability, independence and efficiency are not increasing in parallel.”
DAS McDonald also took the time to meet with Nino Lomjaria, the Public Defender of Georgia, “to discuss challenges and opportunities as we build on our 30-year partnership in support of Georgia’s democratic development.”
Assistant Secretary to Visit Georgia
Following DAS McDonald’s visit to the country, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried is also expected to visit Georgia on June 17 during which she will attend the Tbilisi Women’s International Conference organized by President Salome Zurabishvili.
The official will also meet with the Georgia Prime Minister as well as other officials, members of the opposition, and civil society to discuss “how the United States can further support Georgia in advancing democratic development and rule of law, diversifying Georgia’s economy, and building a prosperous future.”