US Senator Jeanne Shaheen: There is an internal battle going on between autocracy and democracy in Georgia

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen said that there is an internal battle going on between autocracy and democracy in Georgia. She was speaking in a capacity of chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on April 26 dedicated to 2024 USAID budget. Senior United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat, New Hampshire) is the long-time supporter of Georgia and has visited the country on numerous occasions.

The remark was made in the context of broader discussion about the growing authoritarianism in many regions and countries around the world.

She said, in particular: “One of the countries where there is an internal battle going on between autocracy and democracy is the country of Georgia, where it’s very clear that people of Georgia want to look west, to Europe, they want democracy.” She then recalled her trip to Georgia along with senator Risch 2012 to observe the elections when Georgian Dream took over, adding that “what we have seen is that government of Georgia move increasingly towards autocracy.”

She went on to say that “one of the defining opportunities will be the upcoming elections in 2024. And we will have a critical role in supporting those elections and hopefully encouraging an election observer mission”. The senator asked the main witness of the hearing, the USAID Administrator Samantha Power: “Can you talk about how important that will be and whether USAID is proposing to be engaged in long term observation mission to support Georgia?”

Power’s response was that she “wholeheartedly” agrees with the Senator’s Shaheen’s assessment of the situation in the country saying that “the attacks on civil society and some of the laws that have been introduced lately are extremely troubling”. She also stressed: “On the other hand, the pushback shows the pushback shows the strength of civil society and citizen power in Georgia, to chart its own course or to fulfill its own democratic aspirations”. She also concurred that USAID “needs to be targeting resources toward election integrity knowing that this is the next real opportunity for the citizens to heard from” adding that “in all likelihood that will include both short and long term observation missions at the same time.”

Mrs. Jeanne Shaheen, in turn, encouraged the USAID Administrator to address the Committee in case of need for additional funding and assured her of the Committee’s support in ensuring availability of funds for such a long-term observation mission.  

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


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