Official Statements 2013
Joint Statement of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Working Group on Democracy and Good Governance (April 12)
The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission’s (SPC) Democracy and Governance Working Group met on April 12 to review progress on goals set at the SPC plenary session in June 2012 in Batumi. The working group, comprising, on the Georgian side, of members of the executive, the legislative, including majority and minority members, and the judiciary, underscored continuing U.S. support for Georgia’s democratic development. The Working Group noted that the October 2012 elections and peaceful change of government were positive steps in demonstrating Georgia’s progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration, a goal which enjoys broad consensus in Georgia.
Diverse views were expressed in discussions focused on recognizing Georgia’s reform achievements to date and efforts to foster a constructive cohabitation period. The Working Group reviewed Georgia’s efforts to further strengthen democratic institutions, political pluralism and electoral processes, media freedom and access, rule of law and judicial independence, and decentralized governance with a view toward Georgia’s achievement of its Euro-Atlantic integration goals. The Working Group discussed plans to cultivate a competitive electoral environment ahead of by-elections in April 2013, presidential elections in October 2013, and local elections in 2014.
The U.S. delegation was led by co-chairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia, and the USAID Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia Paige E. Alexander.
The Georgian delegation was led by co-chairs, First Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani and Deputy Minister of Justice Gocha Lordkipanidze.
Question on Judicial Council Bill from GPB
DAS Melia: This is one of the important topics that we spent a fair amount of time discussing today. I think it is clear to us that there’s a broad consensus that there’s a need for reform of the operation of the judiciary, specifically in the construction of the high judicial council. We heard competing visions of the best way forward today from different parties in our discussions. We note that there’s been a vigorous debate and consultation and some compromises arrived at in finalization of the law that was passed by the parliament on April 5. The bill… by parliament has gone to the president for his signature, or veto. Whether it is signed by the president, or whether [inaudible] back and forth, the important thing is that when the parliament gets to the point of selecting the six non-judicial members of that commission there will be an opportunity to do that in a way and it seeks to identify the most highly qualified persons for those positions and it’s done in a way that is above parties and politics and in the best interest of the country of Georgia.