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Foreigners to help change Georgia’s Elections Environment

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 12
Speaker of the Parliament, Davit Bakradze met with representatives of the European Council and the US National-Democratic Institute, on November 11 regarding the participation of the international organisations in the negotiations between the authorities and the opposition on a new election code.

“First of all I gave them information on the meeting with the opposition factions and officially suggested their participation in the process. The international organisations will attend all the meetings between the authorities and the opposition and they will also invite foreign analysts, to be actively involved in the process,” Bakradze stated after the meeting.

The November 10 meeting between Davit Bakradze and representatives of 15 opposition parties turned out successful. Almost all the opposition representatives attending the meeting mentioned that it was an important and effective discussion. An agreement has already been achieved on the framework, within which the working group will hold consultations. The first meeting of the group will be held at the Central Election Commission on Wednesday November 17. Supposedly most of the meetings will be held at the CEC, although the group members may also assemble in parliament.

Majority MP, Pavle Kublashvili stated, “It is very nice that 15 political parties have already responded to the Parliament speaker’s suggestion and from next week the working process will begin. I hope that many international organisations and diplomatic corps are involved in the process.” According to Gigi Tsereteli, the parliamentary vice-speaker, “The involvement of international organisations in creating a new elections code is a very significant factor; they will be able to provide more useful recommendations and transparency.”

The Opposition also welcomes the involvement of international organisations in the process. “It is really very important as those organisations will guarantee the government’s promises on the issue actually presented to parliament and discussed. They will play the role of mediator in the very important process,” stated representative of the parliamentary minority, Christian-Democratic Movement, Levan Vepkhvadze.

Leader of the non- parliamentary Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania also underlined the importance of the participation of international organisations in the process and once again called for other opposition factions to join in the process. He said, “All forces in the country should struggle for the improvement of the elections environment. I once again call upon those opposition parties who refused to take part in the process to change their minds. These negotiations should be completed before the spring session of parliament. By the next elections, the election environment in the country must be totally changed.”

Representative of Movement for Fair Georgia, Petre Mamtadze said, “The authorities despite playing at dialogue could have worked on this long ago. However, by these negotiations the authorities want to imitate democracy.”

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger, “This a positive decision, however I don’t expect any real outcome from it, as if the authorities really wanted to change the election environment in the country, consultations with the opposition would not be needed; in this case they would hold consultations with election analysts. This way the authorities will keep those articles that will be profitable for them.”

According to another analyst, Soso Tsintsadze, “Starting negotiations between the authorities and the opposition on the issue and the involvement of international organisations is positive; however changing the election environment in the country is more dependent on the electorate’s responsibility and awareness. It would be better for some steps to be taken to increase voters’ awareness of the election process. Improving the election environment means struggling in different directions.”