IFES Delegation Meets with Prime Minister of Georgia
An International Foundational for Electoral Systems (IFES) delegation, led by President and CEO Bill Sweeney, met with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhktadze on September 18, in Washington, D.C. Joining Sweeney were IFES Board members Randall Teague, Ambassador Ted Sedgwick, Ambassador Tom McDonald, Senior Program Manager Anthony Bowyer, and Program Officer Keti Shubitidze. The Georgian delegation included Foreign Minister David Zaklaliani, Georgian Ambassador to the United States Davit Bakhradze, and other dignitaries.
Bakhtadze credited IFES for providing key technical assistance and developmental support to the election process, and underscored the important role this has played in the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) preparations for the October 28 presidential election. Sweeney credited the work of the CEC, led by Chair Tamar Zhvania – a recipient of the 2017 Joe C. Baxter award for excellence in election administration – for its commitment to holding inclusive, competitive elections and helping build the commission into a professional election management body and a model for the region. The IFES Board also expressed its unwavering support for Georgian democracy and pledged continued assistance during the presidential election and beyond.
Bakhtadze recounted Georgia’s close ties with the West and its commitment to western democratic values, underscoring the country’s deepening economic and defense ties with the United States and Europe. Bakhtadze, visiting the United States to participate in negotiations over the Free Trade Agreement, highlighted Georgia’s long history of pursuing a democratic, independent course and mentioned the current challenges it faces in preserving its territorial integrity against ongoing Russian occupation.
Following the meeting, Sweeney gave an interview to Georgian State Television in which he assessed preparations for the presidential election.
IFES currently operates in Georgia under the United States Agency for International Development-funded “Strengthening Electoral Processes” project (2014-19) through which it supports development of professional election administration, legal and financial accountability in the electoral process, university student civic education and strengthening of political and electoral culture, and implements a broad inclusivity agenda focusing on gender equality and empowerment, equal rights for persons with disabilities, and political inclusion of ethnic minorities.