The OSCE will observe the local elections
By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, February 18
The OSCE will observe the local government elections in Georgia on May 30, representatives of opposition parties said after a meeting on February 17 with Kanat Saudabayev, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, who was in Georgia as part of a visit to the region.
“The two main issues discussed at the meeting were security and democracy in our country. We also touched upon the upcoming local government elections and the participation of an OSCE observer mission in these elections. We were promised that the OSCE will intensify its operation in our country,” Nika Laliashvili from the Christian Democrats stated.
“We believe that the municipal elections in May will provide opportunities for Georgia to demonstrate its commitment to political pluralism and international standards of free and fair elections. We welcome the Georgian authorities' invitation to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to observe the elections,” Saudabayev stated.
“Attention needs to be drawn to ensuring that the elections are free and fair and not decided by official intervention. We also need a proper background for democratic development, and the Government has to be changed by democratic not revolutionary means,” Nestan Kirtadze, the International Secretary of the Labour Party, said. She added that she had suggested holding an international conference dedicated to Georgian conflict issues to support the sovereignty and democracy of the country.
Nino Burjanadze, leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said that both the development of democracy and security are being put under threat by the current Government of Georgia. “Both the Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary opposition representatives agreed that there is no democracy in Georgia and human rights are being violated almost everywhere. We simply highlighted the reality existing in our country, saying that all the fundamental principles of the OSCE are being completely ignored here,” said Burjanadze. Petre Mamradze, leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia said he had raised the issue of possible negotiations with Russia.
The Messenger asked Kakha Kukava, the Conservative Party co-leader, to summarise the meeting with the OSCE Chairman. “Unfortunately there is no particular way of dealing with the conflict situation with the current Government, but the participation of the OSCE in this process will be crucial. Everyone in our country agrees that war is a terrible thing but the President Saakashvili once stated he would do the same as in 2008 again, which puts us in danger,” Kukava explained. “As for the local government elections, we have asked the OSCE Chairman to send an exceptionally large mission of observers to ensure fair elections,” he added.
Security issues were highlighted at Saudabayev's meetings with Davit Bakradze, the Chairman of Parliament of Georgia, and Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze. After meeting Bakradze Saudabayev said, “I wish strength and wisdom to Georgia in this epoch of difficulties for the country. I deeply believe that Georgia will have a wonderful future.” Bakradze said that “Georgia is definitely interested in the restoration of the international observers’ mission on the occupied territories. We express our full readiness for cooperation and hope that the Chairmanship of Kazakhstan will restore this mission.”
“We will listen to all interested sides with particular plans for conflict resolution but still fully support Georgia's territorial integrity,” Saudabayev told Grigol Vashadze. “Addressing protracted conflicts, including those in the South Caucasus, is one of the top priorities of Kazakhstan's OSCE Chairmanship. We are strongly committed to continuing our efforts to assist the peaceful resolution of the conflict, based on the work carried out by our predecessors.” Saudabayev stressed that he believes that the shared history of Georgia and Kazakhstan, the first ex-Soviet Union country to chair the OSCE, will become an important means of achieving possible progress. “No matter how difficult and complex the process may seem to be, we strongly believe that maintaining the ongoing dialogue is the only way forward,” he said.
Saudabayev also welcomed Georgia’s commitment to resolving the outstanding problems within the frameworks of the Geneva discussions, which began in October 2008. He also called for the resumption of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings, which address Georgian-Ossetian issues. He said the regular IPRM meetings are crucial for promoting communication and the reduction of tension on the ground, adding that he believed the OSCE could contribute to the work of the IPRM.
“Kazakhstan approves of the resumption of the OSCE mission in our country, as proposed by Greece, which involves some compromises unacceptable for Russia,” Vashadze told journalists. “Russia is definitely against having any observing mission and doesn’t approve of the presence of the OSCE, especially in the occupied territories. Time will show whether Kazakhstan manages to convince Russia to make any compromises,” he added.
“We had a really interesting talk and discussed all the burning issues for our country concerning the OSCE,” Vashadze said at the subsequent press conference. Saudabayev expressed his gratitude to the Georgian authorities for their participation in organising the OSCE Summit in Astana in May 2010, to which Grigol Vashadze is invited.
Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze highlighted the importance of OSCE participation in the Georgian issues, saying that the suspension of the mission was regretted in Georgian society. “It is really important for the OSCE to not only participate in conflict resolution but become familiar with the internal political processes in our country,” he said, adding that the Georgian-Russian relationship could definitely be improved through the OSCE. “The President of Georgia has expressed his readiness to negotiate with Russia, but Russia has situated tanks on Georgian territory,” he said, in answer to The Messenger's question about the chances of restoring Georgian-Russian relations.