Political party leaders, colleagues and established friends as well as potential partners joined NIMD’s representation in Georgia on 21 September to celebrate the official launch of the new NIMD offices at Zandukeli 5, in the heart of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
The official launch, held at Europe House in Tbilisi, a favorite venue for many innovative and interesting initiatives in the country, brought together representatives of Georgian political parties, leading international organisations and local NGOs working for democratic change in Georgia.
NIMD’s contribution to the Georgian constitutional reform process is demonstrated by the publication Georgian Constitutional Reform in the Eyes of the Public, which has been distributed among the public and profiles the extent of the Georgian population’s awareness on this crucial issue.
NIMD’s support for democracy
Levan Tsutskiridze, NIMD’s representative in Georgia, provided further context for NIMD’s work to support democracy in the country, touching upon three major dimensions, namely: the constitutional reform process, assistance for political parties and democracy education.
"Our major goal has been to create a place open for any political party or organisation to discuss, debate and cooperate for the better future of democratic change in Georgia. We are happy that NIMD’s Georgia representation can now provide such a place for you," added Pepijn Gerrits, the Regional Director of NIMD’s Regional Team for Asia and Latin America.
These words were followed by a short speech from Heino van Houwelingen, Deputy Head of Mission of the Netherlands Embassy to Georgia, who praised the Georgian team and its initiatives to support political dialogue and improve the political environment.
The Georgia programme
The NIMD team in Georgia enjoys trust across the political spectrum in Georgia, and this is crucial for the success of the programme. While NIMD’s Georgia programme was first launched in 2004 and implemented in cooperation with OSCE/ODIHR, since 2009 NIMD has carried out its programme independently.
The occasion of the official launch also coincided with NIMD’s initiative to commence a Democracy Education programme in Georgia. Will Derks, NIMD’s Policy Officer for Asia and Marie Strom from IDASA, NIMD’s partner for Democracy Education in Africa, shared their experience on democracy education programmes in Indonesia and Southern Africa.
NIMD is now in the process of launching a Political Party Assistance Programme. The initiative has been welcomed by NIMD’s partner political parties New Rights, Republicans, Georgia’s Way, Labour Party, United National Movement and Our Georgia - Free Democrats.
A new publication, summarising the attitudes of the opposition political parties to Georgia’s new constitution, will be published in October 2010.