Since Georgia’s peaceful Rose Revolution in 2003, the country has found itself solidly backed by the European Union in its effort to build a better and more democratic society. With the support of the EU and other international actors, the Georgian government has been able to transform a disfunctional state system into a more modern and effective administration, and managed to successfully boost economic growth and reduce petty corruption. Throughout this reform process, the European Union has proven itself to be an active and committed partner, by providing extensive support programmes to the government and civil society, and by defining guiding principles for the reform process via the European Neighbourhood Policy and later the Eastern Partnership.
Despite these achievements of the first post-revolution years and the laudable support of international actors however, significant democratic shortcomings remain that need to be resolved if Georgia wants to truly become the well-functioning democracy that it aspires to be. In particular, the political landscape is still characterized by a distinct lack of trust and cooperation between political parties and civil society. In a recent letter to the delegation of the European Union in Georgia, more than 30 of Georgia’s most active and established civil society organisations highlighted this concern, and called on the EU to actively promote cooperation between civil society and political parties:
“We are deeply sure that the democratization process in the country, including the promotion of fruitful dialogue between the government and civil society, fully corresponds to the highest interests and willingness of our society intending to actively participate in the building of a truly democratic welfare state ,” the statement reads, continuing to stress that “We are hopeful that the European Union will more explicitly and directly encourage the Georgian government to meet its obligations assumed under the format of the Neighbourhood Policy and Eastern Partnership andstrengthen the participatory and monitoring mechanism of the civil society of Georgia in these processes.”
It is exactly the above issues that EPD’s newly established Georgia programme for 2011-2015 seeks to resolve. Generously supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the programme is aimed at enhancing cooperation and knowledge sharing linkages between civil society organisations and political parties in Georgia. To realize these goals, we:
- Organise quarterly dialogue platforms on Georgia-EU integration, involving representatives of Georgia’s key civil society organisations and political parties. The roundtables are moderated by international and local experts on democratization issues and are aimed at promoting constructive dialogue and cooperation between the participants on issues that are crucial to Georgia’s democratic reforms. The dialogue platforms are implemented together with partner organisation New Generation New Initiative (nGnI).
- Organise quarterly dialogue platforms on Good Governance and Public Participation in Policy Processes, involving representatives of Georgia’s key civil society organisations and political parties. The roundtables, which have very much the same format as the roundtables on Georgia-EU integration, are aimed at promoting Good Governance issues that need increased attention from political parties and civil society. We organize them together with our partner organization the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD).
Press Freedom Consortium
EPD works in Georgia as part of the Press Freedom Consortium (PFC), an alliance of media freedom and democracy support organisations that are jointly implementing a 5-year programme called “Press Freedom 2.0”, funded by the by the Dutch government. The programme aims to alleviate structural poverty by enhancing the quality of media, improve democratic processes and strengthen women, children and minorities by giving them a voice. In Georgia, the Press Freedom 2.0 programme will be implemented by EPD and the European Journalism Centre between 2011 and 2015, with the specific aims of:
- Decreasing polarization by political dialogue
- Increasing accountability mechanisms in line with the Government`s Anti Corruption Strategy
- Increasing media independence
In addition to the abovementioned activities carried out by EPD, our partner organisation the European Journalism Centre will work with its partner organization the Georgian Intitute of Public Affairs (GIPA) to:
- Build the capacity of thematic journalism trainers at GIPA
- Publish an ethics handbook for journalists
- Support curriculum development processes at GIPA and local university journalism programs
- Provide thematic journalism workshops to individual journalists
- Facilitate the publication of investigative articles on governance issues, business news
EPD’s Activities in Georgia are implemented with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.