John McCain Keynote: Georgia's Political Transition: Preserving a Euroatlantic Future of the Region
The achievement of a peaceful transfer of power at the ballot box has yielded mixed results for Georgia. The past year in Georgian politics has been defined by a tense period of political "cohabitation" that has left allies of the president in jail or on trial, and allies of Georgia's Western integration applauding the gains in democratic consolidation, though still concerned about the direction of the country. Some would point to improvements in human rights under the new government, but others refer to the rise of political violence and the public intolerance towards ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. Polls show major domestic policy issues remain unaddressed under cohabitation, which was marked by a significant economic decline, and Russia's aggressive stance toward the country has continued despite attempts to repair the relationship.
The departure of "political saviors" from leadership will mark a new era for Georgian politics. Will Georgia consolidate its democracy and follow the path of the Baltic States toward the European Union and NATO, or will it falter in these pursuits like Ukraine and drift toward the Eurasian Union? Will the strong U.S. partnership be able to help guide Georgia through this transition? How do the possible scenarios for Georgia's immediate future impact vital U.S. interests in the region?
To discuss the next steps for Georgia's democratic development and the U.S. role in Georgia and the region, the Free University of Tbilisi, the Agricultural University of Georgia, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States are pleased to host: Georgia's Political Transition: Preserving a Euroatlantic Future of the Region. The conference will explore domestic developments in Georgia, key reform priorities, the U.S.—Georgian partnership, and what the United States can do to support this next stage of Georgian democracy.