STATEMENT: Ambassador Norland’s comments to the media on the sidelines of the Transparency International Georgia conference (June 8)

On June 8, Ambassador Norland attended the conference “Georgia’s Democratic System: Key Institutions in 2011-2015” organized by Transparency International Georgia.  On the sidelines of the conference Ambassador Norland spoke with the media:

“I think this morning’s event represents a very important step that once again we are seeing important groups from civil society in a position to provide their objective evaluation of both the progress and the shortcomings in government in Georgia.  This is something that every democratic society needs; and the report needs to be studied carefully.  Some of the things that they’ve described, for example, with respect to pre-trial detention, the need for continued focus on rule of law—this is something that we have ourselves identified as something that should be looked at carefully.  So, I think what we need again to focus on is the process here:  the fact that an important set of independent non-governmental observers can put together these kinds of observations is a mark of a free society.“

Ambassador Norland’s comment on electoral reform:

“Georgia right now is in the process of a very important debate on electoral reform.  This is particularly in view of rulings of the Constitutional Court—in view of the fact that elections will take place next year.  Trying to reduce some of the imbalances in the current system and move towards a proportional system is something that’s very much on the agenda of the Georgian political sphere right now.  And we see that there’s been some very important debate and progress in recent days on this.  It’s not for us to say which system Georgia should adopt, but it is important for everybody to recognize—including the members of Parliament involved—and to respect the fact that they are making decisions about their own future but [also] in the long term interests of Georgian democracy.   We do respect this very much and we support their efforts to come up with the system that will serve Georgia’s long term democratic interests.“