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Foreign Diplomats' Statement on Media in Pre-election Environment
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Oct.'13 / 21:31

A group of Tbilisi-based foreign ambassadors said on Friday that it follows closely media-related developments ahead of the October 27 presidential election and it is aware of allegations of pressure on Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) board members to resign.

“With a view toward Georgia’s continued progress on Euro-Atlantic integration, and in advance of the October 27 presidential election, the Ambassadorial Working Group (AWG) underscores the importance of a free media environment, characterized by full freedom of expression, a diversity of opinions, and journalistic independence,” said the group, which mainly brings together diplomats from OSCE participating states and usually gathers on election-related issues.

“These factors are integral to ensuring all political parties and candidates have the opportunity to share their views with the voters, and that there is a level playing field in the run up to the elections,” the Ambassadorial Working Group said in a written statement.

“The AWG continues to closely follow developments related to the media environment in Georgia, including a number of commercial and political realignments,” it said.

“While the recent OSCE/ODIHR report noted that the media environment is considered less polarized than during the 2012 elections, and journalists cover major political events in a more inclusive manner, the report points out that there are allegations of pressure on GPB board members to resign. The AWG has also been made aware of these allegations along with allegations concerning pressure on news organizations, including board members, staff, and leadership, as well as the alleged presence of police officials in newsrooms.”

“We encourage parties with specific complaints to avail themselves of the national mechanisms and institutions to raise their concerns.”

“The AWG strongly supports Georgia’s continued democratic development, and in particular the fundamental principles of free and fair elections, equal access to media, and respect for the rule of law. We join all those who are calling for exemplary elections, and reiterate to the Georgian people our continued support and friendship,” reads the statement.

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