EU reaffirms the importance for fair elections in Georgia
By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Wednesday, September 5
The European Union has “high expectation” for Georgia’s upcoming parliamentary elections on October 1 emphasizing that the elections will be “crucial” in terms of the continued democratic development of Georgia. The joint statement on EU-Georgia relations and the upcoming elections was made by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, and Stefan Fuele, EU Commissioner for Enlargement European Neighborhood Policy.
In a statement released on September 3, the EU called on both the government and the opposition to continue to ensure a peaceful, enabling and competitive electoral environment and also a healthy media environment in this regard.
“We are concerned about the growing polarization and tension in this context– the elections should be first of all about political programs and ideas. We stress the responsibility that lies with both the government and the opposition to ensure proper conduct and therefore the legitimacy of the elections. The electoral law has to be respected, and it must be applied in a way that maintains confidence in the fairness of the electoral process and the rule of law,” the statement reads.
According to EU officials, all parties and candidates should contribute to a calm and conducive election environment, refraining from actions and inflammatory statements that might further escalate an already tense environment and sow doubts about the results. Building democracy needs responsible actors across the political dividing lines.
Georgia's United National Movement party responded to the EU statement. According to the party’s press speaker Chiora Taktakishvili, the government will do everything in order for elections to be held in a democratic way.
“This is an admission that reforms are continuing in Georgia including reforms in strengthening democracy,” Taktakishvili said, adding that the current government, as well as opposition political forces are responsible for seeing to it that the elections are held fairly.
Taktakishvili’s statement was followed by a comment by Republican Tina Khidasheli, who said that if the opposition is declared responsible for holding fair elections, this means the ruling party admits that they [the opposition] are part of the authorities. She added that international organisations and EU officials are looking for people with a sense of responsibility to ensure a peaceful election process: “This is because they [EU officials] do not have any hope that the authorities will make sure the election process is conducted in a democratic and peaceful way. They see us as a reliable group, and are calling on us to establish and maintain stability in the country.”
The UNM’s main rival Georgian Dream has released a statement saying that it will do everything it can to ensure a peaceful election and act constitutionally. “We believe that the European Union and the whole democratic world will continue to take adequate measures in order to ensure that the Georgian people have an opportunity to determine their future though free elections,” it says.
In a statement the EU reiterated Georgia’s support stating that it is “an important partner” for the union. The statement reaffirms the EU’s further commitment to deep dynamic relations with Georgia, including the deep and comprehensive free trade part, as well as the recently opened visa dialogue with Georgia which has been characterized by good progress.