In newsletter no. 5/2012 you can read about a number of important elections that will take place during the fall of 2012: In Belarus, Ukraine, Venezuela and Georgia.

Hopes run high that the elections in Georgia will be entirely up to international standards. Expectations are also raised that the (almost) united opposition in Ukraine will breathe fresh life into the country’s dwindling democracy and that Henrique Capriles win the presidential elections in Venezuela. Though, the hopes are low for the elections in Belarus, where President Lukashenko is further cementing his authoritarian regime.

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May 24-27, youth politicians from Eastern Europe and Sweden met at Hotel Utsikten in Nynäshamn, Sweden, to discuss Principles for a Free Society. The 21 participants, representing center-right political parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, discussed their countries’ and the regions’ challenges together with their Swedish counterparts. The conference was chaired by professor Nigel Ashford from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University in Washington DC. (more…)

“Act instead of talking” was the slogan of the Georgian government party, United National Movement (UNM) in the last Presidential election in 2008. Since then, the government has in fact acted. Corruption, which after independence was widespread, has been reduced and economic growth has increased. There is still work to be done in order for the country to become a full democracy and in October it will be determined whether President Mikheil Saakashvili and the UNM will get four more years to approach that goal. The election campaign has already begun and international election observers have been invited.  (more…)

On March 28-31, participants from the youth organization of Georgia’s governing party, the United National Movement’s (UNM) made a study visit to Brussels. The four-day program arranged by the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation included visits to the European People’s Party’s headquarters, European Commission, NATO headquarters, Embassy of Georgia and European Parliament.

The purpose of the visit was primarily to raise awareness about the European Union and understanding of the membership process in  the next generation of Georgian politicians. The participant also had time to network and made important contacts for the future.

A EU- and NATO-membership is of highest interest for the UNM youths. The main topic of discussion during the study visit was Georgia’s European integration but also the NATO enlargement process.

On May 7, 2010 the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation arranged Spring School, i.e. a youth conference on ideology based on the book “Principles for a free society” by Dr. Nigel Ashford. The participants came from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Sweden. The conference took place on the island of Muskö in the Stockholm Archipelago.

Dr. Nigel Ashford spoke on the subject of freedom and democracy. Guest speakers from the Moderate Party ran sessions based on further chapters in Dr. Ashford’s book. Gustav Blix and Walburga Habsburg Douglas, both Members of Parliament from the Moderate Party, spoke with reference to globalization and the Eastern Partnership.

The participants were very engaged in the discussions – topics ranging from tolerance and human rights to free enterprise – and were also in charge of presentations of the political situation in their own countries. The participants agreed that they learned a lot from the classes at the conference, and expressed appreciation regarding the possibility to make friends with people from the other countries.

“I very warmly welcome today’s recommendation by the European Commission to make a significant step in opening the doors of the European Union to the Georgian people” said Gunnar Hökmark, MEP and Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group responsible for the Eastern Partnership.

“Facilitating travel into and around the EU is crucial for people to people contacts and conducive to good relations between the EU and Georgia”, said Hökmark commenting on today’s proposal of the European Commission to conclude visa facilitation and re-admission agreements with Georgia. (more…)

The Swedish Government has decided to upgrade the office in Tbilisi, Georgia to an embassy (so far the office has been administered from neighboring Embassies).

“There is a distinct need to strengthen the Swedish diplomatic presence in certain countries and areas [apart from in Georgia; in Mali, Moldova and Cambodia]. Since there is significant development cooperation between Sweden and these countries, there is also a need for a permanent Swedish presence. I.e. independent embassies,” according to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt.    

During the fall of 2010 the secretariats will be upgraded to embassies. This means that Sweden will be represented by a permanently stationed ambassador. The embassies will focus on dialogue, reporting on development cooperation, as well as politics and trade issues. The embassies will thus have restricted operations in regards to migration and consular services.