Leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said on Sunday that his coalition would accept results of elections if October 1 parliamentary polls were deemed as legitimate by international observer organizations.
Ivanishvili, who was interviewed by the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s weekly program Accents, also said that it was President Saakashvili who was interested in having post-election disorders.
Asked whether he would accept election results if those results were deemed “legitimate” by “authoritative” international observer organizations, Ivanishvili responded: “Yes, of course.”
“But at the same time I want to explain to our viewers so that not to trigger any nihilism among them. We are working very actively with them [international election observers]; we share common views on every issue and no one should have any illusion that something similar to what has already happened in Georgia will reoccur again and [international observers] will endorse falsified elections; no one will [endorse] falsified elections and no one, first and foremost Saakashvili, should have an illusion about it; no one will undersign results of falsified elections and we will maximally defend the votes,” he said.
Asked if he thought that Russia was interested in having post-election disorders in Georgia, Ivanishvili responded: “Only Saakashvili is interested in having disorders in Georgia after the elections, because he knows he will lose elections.”
Since mid-July the Georgian Dream and ruling United National Movement (UNM) have been locked in dispute over parties’ code of conduct; in particular, the major source of controversy was about parties’ response to election results.
UNM called in July on Ivanishvili and his coalition to sign declaration, which among other provisions, would also include a commitment to recognize election results, summarized by the Central Election Commission and deemed legitimate by observer organizations with credible reputation – the wording unacceptable for the Georgian Dream. Then an umbrella group of civil society and watchdog organizations, This Affects You Too, offered 17-point declaration, which was accepted by UNM on the condition of adding to it its four-point code of conduct which also included commitment on recognition of election results. On August 17 This Affects You Too offered new draft, which was trying to accommodate both parties’ interests over the response to election results; it was offering a commitment to recognize election results if polls were held in compliance with all the other points of the declaration, as well as if election results were summarized in line with legal procedures and deemed “legitimate” by credible international observer organizations. The Georgian Dream said on August 20 that it was ready to sign this draft, but the UNM refused, instead insisting to put in declaration a wording which was used in the August 17 statement by a group of Tbilisi-based diplomats. Ambassadorial Working Group urged all the parties in its statement “to respect both the election results validated by the Central Election Commission, and a process assessed by independent international observer organizations, in the first instance the OSCE/ODIHR, as having met international standards and norms.” So far there is no single document undersigned by both UNM and Georgian Dream.
The issue reemerged again last week after RFE/RL Georgian service reported on September 13 that Ivanishvili requested a meeting in Brussels with EU commissioner for neighborhood policy, Štefan Füle, who agreed to meet on the condition that Ivanishvili’s coalition joined the code of conduct, undertaking commitment to accept election results assessed by the OSCE/ODIHR as having met international standards.
Asked about it during the interview at the Georgian Public Broadcaster on September 16, Ivanishvili said that he would have met Füle if he wanted to and added that the EU commissioner was “mislead” by the Georgian authorities, because his coalition had already joined the declaration offered by This Affects You Too.
Among international organizations, OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will have the largest number of observers for the October 1 parliamentary elections.
Its long-term observers are already in Georgia monitoring the pre-election situation since August 22.
The mission, which assess elections for compliance with the commitments agreed to by all the OSCE participating states, as well as with national legislation, is led by Nikolai Vulchanov of Bulgaria, who led OSCE/ODIHR observation missions for Georgia’s 1999 parliamentary and 2000 presidential elections.
Vulchanov said on August 22 that it was not up to the mission to “determine whether the election is legitimate or not.”
“We are here to establish based on body of facts, collected by our observers, whether the election complied with the legislation and the international commitments of Georgia, but that’s where we stop,” he said.
He also said that it was not the policy of ODIHR to give assessments like “free and fair” to elections, because this wording “is not enough to describe an election properly.”