A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said after visiting Georgia this week that “there was an environment for democratic elections.”
7-member delegation, led by Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris from the group of European People’s Party (EPP), visited Georgia on September 13-14 to assess election campaign and political climate ahead of the October 8 parliamentary elections.
The delegation said it “saw a pluralistic political and media landscape and a working legal framework.”
“Although the delegation felt that the general climate was clearly less tense than it was during past elections, following discussions with various interlocutors, it considered necessary to underline that all parties should denounce all forms of campaign violence and harassment of opponents,” PACE said in a press release distributed on September 15.
“The delegation indeed heard allegations of unacceptable acts of violence, intimidation, harassment and blackmail directed at candidates and voters. In this context, such acts, even if isolated, against candidates, party members or supporters, as well as threats against journalists, must be prevented. Perpetrators of such acts must be identified and punished. The delegation also said that any misuse of administrative resources in the electoral campaign must not happen.”
The delegation said that “all parties should focus on the real issues” and called on all stakeholders, “and in particular on the authorities, to avoid any actions that could increase the tensions in the political environment in the run-up to the elections.”
The delegation also included French MP Maryvonne Blondin from the Socialist Group (SOC); Spanish MP Jordi Xuclà from the group of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE); Ingebjørg Godskesen of Norway from the European Conservatives Group (EC); Andrej Hunko of Germany from the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL); Boriss Cilevičs of Latvia the Socialist Group, who is a co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia, and Swedish MP Kerstin Lundgren from ALDE group, who is also a co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia.
During the visit in Tbilisi, the delegation met with Georgia’s Prime Minister; Parliament Speaker and other senior lawmakers; Chairperson of the Central Election Commission; Interior Minister; Head of the National Communications Commission, as well as leaders and representatives of parliamentary and non-parliamentary political parties; civil society and the media representatives, Deputy Head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission and foreign diplomats based in Tbilisi.
PACE plans to send a 32-member delegation to observe the vote on the election day.