U.S. upbeat on Tbilisi's political reforms

Oct. 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Parliamentary elections in Georgia showed democracy is more than a slogan, though it's premature to declare a resounding success, a U.S. official said.

Lawmakers in Georgia announced Thursday they approved of the Cabinet selections made by Bidzina Ivanishvili. His Georgian Dream coalition beat the United National Movement of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Oct. 1 parliamentary elections.

Eric Rubin, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European affairs, told the U.S. Center for the National Interest the elections showed Tbilisi was on a healthy democratic path.

"Problems and challenges still abound, of course, and it would be foolish to declare that Georgia has completed the goals it has set for itself for transformation into a fully democratic, free society that is integrated with the Euro-Atlantic community," he said.

Saakashvili, criticized for his decision to go to war with Russia in 2008, was accused of monopolizing power.

Rubin said the elections weren't prefect but indicated the country's emerging political landscape suggested more partnerships were in store for Tbilisi.

"The path ahead may not be easy, as we know from our own experience living in a multiparty system but it is well worth the effort," he said.

Most of the presidential powers in Tbilisi transfer to a new prime minister once constitutional reforms take effect in 2013.

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