U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Opens First Civic Engagement Centers

Media was on hand for the Ozurgeti center opening

U.S. Ambassador John Bass opened the first Centers for Civic Engagement (CCE) in Ozurgeti and Gori this past month as part of the USAID-funded, MSI-implemented Good Governance in Georgia (G3) project. The Ambassador cut the ceremonial ribbon, discussed topics of local interest and handed over the CCEs to the Georgian citizens assembled for the opening.

“CCE and G3 staff did an excellent job staging the opening of the Gori CCE. We had a great turnout and a lively discussion,” said Kirsten Michener, USAID/Caucasus Senior Democracy and Governance Adviser. “The building looked great and I think the response from the community was positive.”

MSI’s G3 team helped to create these centers to give space to citizens and civil society, media and political organizations for public events, discussions and negotiations. They are financed and run independent of government support.

“This is the first time in this city that something is opened with civil society members involvement,” said Marina Topuria, head of the Young Pedagogues’ Union in Georgia. “I consider it very symbolic.”

Civil society organizations, media organizations, political parties and citizens can use the CCEs free of charge for meetings and events. Each CCE will have a main hall for 60 or more persons, smaller conference rooms, libraries that include books on democracy and governance and public computers with Internet access.

This free space for civic engagement allows citizens to gather, share their viewpoints on different issues, raise questions about local problems and become more involved in democratic processes of their communities, municipalities and cities.

In anticipation of the upcoming local and national elections, MSI’s G3 team are creating a safe haven and open environment for civic engagement, allowing for public forums, open or closed meetings, round tables and town hall meetings.

In the next several months, the G3 team will assist with the opening of CCEs in cities of Telavi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Akhaltsikhe, Batumi, Rustavi, Marneuli and Gurjani.

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