OSCE statements firm in their stance on fair elections
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 24
The Leadership of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly concluded its visit to Georgia by offering critical statements of the Georgian legal system, the actions of the State Audit Agency and the exorbitant fines levied against Georgian opposition figures. They have also hinted at signs of “Leninism” during the Georgian pre-election campaign and emphasized the importance of upcoming parliamentary elections for the country.
After the meetings with the government, the opposition, NGOs and civil society representatives, the OSCE delegation concluded that despite some positive progress in fields like providing transparency in spending finances during the election period and expanding media accessibility throughout the country “there still remain issues they are concerned about and will watch the situation closely.”
According to Tonino Picula, OSCE Chair-in-Office, the delegation has seen a growing political polarization in the country.
“We are particularly concerned by the practice of certain law enforcement bodies in Georgia. In our opinion, the State Audit Agency is using its broad discretionary authority to investigate the legality of individual or party spending and making questionable decisions by imposing harsh penalties without clear or transparent guidelines,” Picula said.
He also underscored that the fines levied are disproportionate and apparently being applied in a selective manner, mainly targeting one political subject.
Picula also talked about the importance of a fair judiciary system and stated that after the meetings in Georgia, the delegation has significant concerns regarding the appropriate actions of the court in Georgia.
President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Riccardo Migliori, touched upon the “Leninism” issues during the pre-election campaign and emphasized that Georgian political parties should be more focused on representing their programs and plans rather than destroying one another.
“We had an important adventure in this country. These elections have great importance for your future. The elections should be another important moment in Europe. This is the goal of the governmental and opposition parties. There is a little part of Leninism in this electoral campaign. Rather than presenting programs, they are trying to destroy their enemies. There should be no enemies in this society; Georgia is an important nation and important area in the Caucasus,” Migliori said.
The delegation also expressed hope that the current Georgian leadership will create equal conditions for all players involved in the elections. They also emphasized that they will not close their eyes on violations.
Based on the Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Gigi Tsreteli, the OSCE delegation emphasized that all sides should encourage the holding of fair and transparent elections in the country.
“There were also some issues the OSCE delegation wanted to recheck, including the issues related with the State Audit Agency. The mission will again visit Georgia in September and will see that the elections are held in high standards,” Tsereteli said.
The statement made by the Chairperson of the National Movement, Chiora Taktakishvil, was not as neutral. According to Taktakishvili, the critical statements made by the OSCE delegation might be a result of them having incorrect information delivered to the delegation by the lobbyists of a specific political party.
She also emphasized that the National Movement is doing its best to ensure free and impartial elections.” The State Audit Agency should also carry out its actions transparently and provide detailed information concerning the issues to all interested sides,” Taktakishvili said, adding that the OSCE delegation also outlined those improvements undertaken under the leadership of the ruling party in certain fields and the responsibility of the opposition during the election process.
The opposition seemed pleased after hearing the OSCE statements. Based on Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream Coalition, the recent statements made by various international organizations indicate that the government will “dare anything on October 1.”
She has underscored that the statements were “very adequate and clear and that the international community is not going to be blind and take peacefully the [current] Georgian government’s illegalities.”
Khidasheli also mentioned that after the statements, the government swiftly conceded and stopped its forceful actions against opposition leaders.
Political analyst Zurab Abashidze stated that the statements made by the OSCE delegation were made mainly towards the ruling party.
“Each normal European state will have an impression that the Georgian election campaign is a battle field and this battle is not for victory; it is just for the annihilation of the opponent. Of course the government has significantly more levers in the battle,” Abashidze said, underscoring the fact that it will be nice if the OSCE delegation statements are taken into consideration.