Today, at the Administration of the Government of Georgia, the chairman of the State Agency for Religious Issues Zaza Vashakmadze met with the Foreign Affairs Officer of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations Jonathan Brandt. The meeting was held with the initiative and desire of the American side.
Jonathan Brandt is the first time in Georgia and he pointed out he carefully observes human rights and religious issues as well as ongoing political processes in the country. The guest said that he heard a lot of positive news about the chairman of the agency and the activities of the agency in general. He expressed his desire for bilateral cooperation with the agency in terms of exchanging information and sharing experience of the two countries in this filed.
Jonathan Brandt asked Zaza Vashakmadze to provide the American side with the activities and projects implemented by the agency in 2016-2017, as well as the research and work done in different directions to reflect the annual report of the International Freedom of Religion of the US Department which will be published in the spring of 2018.
Zaza Vashakmadze informed the guest about the projects of 2016-2017 and as well as the projects established in the direction of religion of the Georgian Government’s Human Rights Action Plan (2018-2020). The special attention was paid to the project “Raising Awareness of Public Officials on the Issues of Religious Neutrality and Secularism”, the training of the personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs throughout Georgia was also approved which is currently underway and will be continued next year, as well as the project “Religious Map of Georgia”, Annual Interreligious Calendar and the video broadcasting on the public broadcaster and billboards of several places of Tbilisi within the scope of raising awareness, with the title “Human Rights and Religious Tolerance in Georgia”.
At the end of the meeting Jonathan Brandt expressed willingness to cooperate closely with the respective agencies of the US working on religious issues. He also informed the chairman of the agency about the replacement of the Ambassador at Large of the US Department of State of the International Freedom of Religion David Saperstein and promised that the new Ambassador will be provided with the detailed information about the chairman of the agency and the activities fulfilled by the agency. The guest thanked the chairman of the agency for meeting him and proposed a possible visit of the representatives of the state structures working in the field of religion to Georgia in case of negotiations and agreements achieved.