A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE),which paid a two-day visit to Georgia, said electoral environment in Georgia is currently “more open and equally competitive” compared to other recent elections.
The six-member delegation visited Georgia on September 24-25, to assess situation ahead of the October 27 presidential vote.
“Georgia has the possibility to conduct a Presidential election which enjoys its citizens’ confidence and meets Council of Europe standards. This would be a remarkable achievement for the country and the region,” the delegation said in a statement on September 25. “To achieve this, cases of politically-motivated violence and intimidation of opposition supporters, pressure on officials to resign prematurely from their elected or appointed positions, and undue interference of local officials in the election process must be excluded during the election campaign. The relevant authorities should investigate any allegations of election campaign violations, firm and proportional sanctions should be applied in order to avoid violations in the future, and the public should be informed about measures undertaken.”
During the visit the delegation met main presidential candidates; PM Ivanishvili; parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili; Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission Tamar Zhvania; Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani and Secretary of the National Security Council Giga Bokeria, as well civil society and the media representatives and members of the diplomatic corps.
“The delegation noted with satisfaction the consensus between the main political stakeholders concerning the recent amendments to the election legislation and the Law on Political Unions of Citizens adopted by Parliament in July and August 2013. It is now essential to implement the amended legislation in an efficient manner, namely banning the use of administrative resources, ensuring the accuracy of voters’ lists, the transparency and control of sources of funding and expenditures by political parties and candidates,” the delegation said in the statement.
It said that the delegation was informed of “cases of intolerance toward minorities.”
“In this regard, it finds any political exploitation of sensitive ethnic and religious issues for electoral purposes unacceptable, all the more so in a multi-ethnic society such as Georgia.”
It noted “the competent work” of the Central Election Commission.”
“Further improvements in the legislation are needed to increase political parties’ representation at all levels of election commissions,” the delegation said.
It expressed regret over “the conflictual situation” around the Georgian Public Broadcaster and encouraged “debates to be held between the presidential candidates.”
The delegation was led by Meritxell Mateu Pi (Andorra) from Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and also included Andres Herkel (Estonia) from the European People’s Party; John Tomlinson (UK) from Socialist Group (SOC); Christopher Chope (UK) from European Democrat Group (EDG) and Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia) from SOC, who is PACE’s co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia.