Georgia: From the Coronavirus to a Critical Test of Democracy – The National Interest

  • Many of Georgia’s friends abroad have been uneasy about the country’s recent reform trajectory. Photo: Nino Alavidze/

Review by, 23 Sep 2020, Tbilisi,Georgia

The three former United States Ambassadors to Georgia Kenneth Yalowitz, John Tefft and William Courtney have recently hailed Georgia for successfully dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

But the three foreign dignitaries also note that now the country ‘must meet the task of conducting free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections on October 31 and dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic’.

Each of us has served as U.S. Ambassador to Georgia and can attest that the country has come a long way in democratic and economic reforms since independence in 1991. We were encouraged by the compromise electoral reform law adopted earlier in the year, but the whole election process could be reformed to better reflect the will of the Georgian people”, the authors say.

Referring to the ‘serious concern over Russian interference in the upcoming election’, they city current US Ambassador Kelly Degnan twice warning that ‘Georgians should expect that Russia is going to interfere’ based on ‘a long pattern of interference through disinformation campaigns and other efforts’.

The article also reads that ‘election campaign has now kicked off but there are complaints’. Therefore, it says ‘Georgia’s friends and neighbours are carefully watching the runup to the election and will pay close attention to the voting’.

They will assess media freedom and access, integrity at polling stations and vote counting, and any use of instruments of government power by Georgia Dream to gain unfair advantage. The conclusions of independent domestic and international observers will influence perceptions”, the former ambassadors wrote.

Stressing that ‘over the past three decades, Georgia has faced wars and daunting challenges to its sovereignty, democratic development, and economic growth’ the authors of the article ‘have every confidence it can meet these latest tests as well’

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