In February 2014, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) opened a Regional Europe Office in Prague, Czech Republic. The office presents IFES with new possibilities to engage electoral stakeholders in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Through its office in Prague, IFES hosts professional development programs featuring innovative approaches, evidence-based solutions, and peer-to-peer learning for electoral actors in the region.
Acknowledging the growing partnership between IFES and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Jan Kaminek, a Human Rights and Democracy Support Expert at the MFA, lauded IFES’ work at the 2015 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s 2015 Human Dimension Implementation Meetings in Warsaw, Poland. Kaminek noted that the MFA was glad that IFES chose Prague as the seat of its Europe office. The Czech Republic has also welcomed many election commission representatives from Eastern Partnerships States (which include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) who are participating in various IFES training programs.
In response, IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney said, “The Czech Government has been a leader in the promotion of human rights and electoral democracy around the world. The collaborative working relationship between IFES and the MFA has been a highly productive one that I believe has elevated the advancement of international standards and best practices in the field of elections.” With the Czech MFA preparing for election observation missions in a number of countries, representatives from the MFA will participate in an IFES-led electoral dispute resolution workshop.
From June 8-9, 2015, the IFES Regional Europe Office and the Czech MFA co-sponsored a conference to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first democratic elections in Czechoslovakia following the fall of communism. In his remarks, Kaminek called the conference “the highlight” of IFES-MFA cooperation.
Through partnerships like the one established with the Czech MFA, IFES continues to work to ensure that citizens in Europe, and around the world, have a vote and a voice.