IREX Scholar Briefs U.S. State Department on Georgia's Political Reforms
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On the eve of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s recent visit to Georgia, IREX alumna Dr. Julie George gave a briefing on Georgia’s current state and political reforms to analysts and officials at the U.S. Department of State. Issues concerning the transparency of Georgia’s upcoming elections, both parliamentary and presidential, were also discussed.
The parliamentary elections, to take place in October 2012, were on Clinton’s agenda during her June meeting with Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili at the Black Sea resort of Batumi. Clinton praised the government’s decision to open the electoral process to international observation. “We expect Georgia will hold free and fair elections this fall, and then complete a democratic transfer of power in 2013”, Clinton stated. Saakashvili will complete his two terms as president in 2013.
Dr. Julie George has also been conducting research on the elections, in addition to her work on political authority in Georgia, which she shared with officials after the briefing. George credited the experience with helping her learn effective ways to present her findings to policymakers.
"I enjoyed the briefing at the State Department. The exercise forced me, the academic, to adapt to the policy audience in a productive way, but also communicated to me the importance and the relevance of my research project. The Q&A [following the briefing] also provided a sense of the diversity of policy issues in the policy community, which will inform my research work in the future."
In 2011, George conducted field research on state building and violence resurgence in Georgia, as a participant on the Individual Advanced Research Opportunities (IARO) program, one of IREX's research support programs for U.S. scholars in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. George presented some of her findings at the 17th Annual Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) Convention that took place in New York City in April.
Supported through the U.S. Department of State’s Title VIII program, IARO is designed to bring policy-relevant, “open-source” research on current regional issues of importance directly to the service of the U.S. policymaking and academic community. Through policy briefings, presentations and research briefs, the research conducted by IREX U.S. Scholars continues to make a direct and effective impact on the formation of U.S. public policy.