With voters preparing to head to the polls in 2008 to elect a new president and parliament, democracy assistance is receiving increased attention from the government of Georgia. Nino Burjanadze, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, met with senior officials with the International Republican Institute (IRI) during her recent trip to the United Sates and again when IRI officials traveled to Georgia.
In March, during her official trip to the United States, Speaker Burjanadze visited IRI’s headquarters to meet with IRI President Lorne Craner and Executive Vice-President Judy Van Rest. The meeting was an important component of the Speaker’s trip where she highlighted Georgia’s progress in political and economic reforms, particularly in improving the business climate in Georgia. Speaker Burjanadze took the time to thank IRI for its commitment to assisting Georgian democratic development and its continued programming. During the meeting, the Speaker also discussed areas of further reform and current relations with Russia.
During an April trip to Georgia, Stephen Nix, Director of IRI’s Eurasia programs met with Speaker Burjanadze in Tbilisi. In addition to discussing current events in Georgia, Nix and Speaker Burjanadze discussed IRI’s programming which is focused on governance and public opinion surveys. The surveys are especially valuable in assisting the government of Georgia in gauging progress in the areas of economic and corruption reform. The polling data is also utilized by Georgia’s opposition parties in order to better respond to constituent needs and to develop effective future campaign.
During this meeting, both Nix and Speaker Burjanadze spoke about IRI’s most recent polling data and IRI activities in Georgia, which include party consultations, youth trainings, and encouraging female participation in both voting and running for office. Currently, IRI is preparing its future activities in Georgia through 2010 with a strong emphasis on preparing political parties and voters for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections through campaign schools, voter outreach and election observer trainings. These activities will take on even greater importance as Georgia moves closer to both presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008.Top