Local media outlets are reporting that a US government-sponsored international democratization group is wrapping up operations in Azerbaijan.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) will cease its operations in Azerbaijan at the end of November, according to a report distributed by the APA news agency. IRI representatives have not publicly commented the organization's future plans in Azerbaijan.
Terry Davidson, a US Embassy spokesperson, insisted that IRI's action did not signal any diminished interest on the part of the US government in the democratization process in Azerbaijan. "US commitment in support of political reforms and strengthening of democratic institutions remains firm," APA quoted Davidson as saying.
"In recent years, the primary US government partners have included the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)," Davidson continued. "USAID has just completed its periodic review of programs and asked for new proposals. In that internal process, both NDI and IFES submitted proposals and they will continue to collaborate with the Embassy. IRI did not take part, and, as a result, will cease operations in Azerbaijan."