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Central Election Commission hopes Georgia can learn from Europe

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 8
Apart from certain oppositional parties, which are mainly focused on improving the election environment in the country, there is one more institution in Georgia, which is also oriented on the same direction. Based on the statements made by the representatives of Central Election Commission (CEC) on April 7, they are actively working to improve the election environment in the country and in this context they have outlined all activities dedicated to this aim in the current year.

“We hosted the representatives of Eastern Europe’s election administrations in February of 2011; the main aim of the meetings was sharing experience and deepening of collaboration. In this year, our representatives have visited Poland, Great Britain, Latvia and Lithuania. Our representatives were observing the elections in Belarus and in Kazakhstan. In the future, we plan to participate in OSCE/ODIHR observing missions, “Press speaker of CEC, Juli Giorgadze, said.

It has also been mentioned that CEC has launched a series of new civic education programs, which are intended to support the development of the election environment. The projects will be implemented during the non election period and will focus on encouraging the involvement of citizens in the electoral process by creating regional resource centres; issuing grants for local non-governmental organizations and encouraging the effective use of social media. The CEC intends to use the non-election period to improve the election environment. Within the project's framework, 16 resource centres will be created throughout Georgia. The centres will allow citizens and interested individuals to have the opportunity to meet and use the facility for training and networking purposes. “The second important aspect of the civic education program is a small grants component. The election administration intends to issue small to medium sized grants to local Tbilisi based and regional NGOs. Interesting projects with budgets from 5,000 to 50,000 GEL will be targeted at all voters, aimed at delivering messages on electoral processes, educating voters about their role in electoral systems and their engagement in public life, “Giorgadze, said.

In spite of these activities from CEC side, the Georgian opposition considers that the election environment will not be changed without their participation and active involvement in the process, “NATO and international organizations pay significant importance to the process connected with election environment improvement in the country, ongoing between the opposition and the authorities. The process reveals that the opposition has very concrete suggestions and only the authorities are obstructing the process. The position of the international community should be significant for the authorities, “Irakli Chikovani, from the oppositional 8, said.

Revolution and not election will change the current authorities- this is the attitude of the radical opposition regarding the process, “I appeal to the oppositional 8 to make a statement in which they walk away from the negotiation table, otherwise, I will have to demonstrate their lie, I will not let anyone deal with the authorities at the expense of the Georgian people, “leader of Civil Front, Jaba Jishkariani, said.

'Neither negotiations nor revolution'- this is the current response of the authorities on the ongoing issues surrounding the election environment and the country's future, “opposition suggestions are unacceptable and obscure, “for them. However, the need for system reform is frequently being mentioned.

According to the analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelizde, there have been signals that the international community is interested in election related issues in Georgia however,” I do not think the current authorities pay attention to those statements from the international community, which in doing so might endanger their power.”