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Assessments vary after meetings with PACE observing mission

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 13
The pre-election mission of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) held meetings with the government and opposition representatives on September 12. The pre-election environment and situation have been discussed during the meetings.

According to the leader of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the mission members were well informed concerning the pre-election environment and the problems related to the Georgian parliamentary elections.

“It was a very interesting meeting. Despite the fact that they knew much about the Georgian pre-election situation, many questions were asked. We managed to display a real situation to them. The process is ongoing very well. The number of observers is increasing. The fact enables us to wait for that October elections which will be held nearly democratically for the first time in Georgian history,” Ivanishvili stated.

A comment has also been made by a fellow representative of the coalition, Davit Usupashvili. According to him, the mission members expressed interest concerning the usage of administrative resources

“They were also interested in why only the United National Movement and one of the other smaller political parties have used billboard space in Tbilisi,” Usupashvili said, adding that the mission also asked questions regarding Maestro TV's satellite antennas.

A completely different issue was cited by Parliamentary Chair of Georgia, Davit Bakradze, as the main topic of the meeting with the PACE observing mission.

“They are worried that Georgia's political environment is polarized. Polarization of the environment is the source of lots of problems concerning a healthy election situation,” Bakradze said, and blamed opposition political forces for the polarization of the election environment.

“The United National Movement has done much to end the polarization in Georgian politics. However, during the last 8 months, this polarization has increased due to our opponents,” Bakradze said. Supposedly his accusation was targeted towards the Georgian Dream, as the time period named by Bakradze coincides with Ivanishvili’s entrance to the political arena.

Bakradze emphasized that the mission members had a positive impression concerning Georgia's pre-election political environment. “They could see what has been done and what actions are being carried out for democratic elections from the ruling team’s side,” Bakradze stated.

An assessment made by a member of the parliamentary opposition, Christian-Democratic movement included criticism regarding both the ruling party and the Georgian Dream.

Based on movement representative, Levan Vepkhvadze, Georgian political forces should trust and recognize those outcomes of the elections which will be confirmed by the international observer missions.

“Maybe we will be discontent by the elections results in the event that we lose, or glad if we succeed, but in any case we should trust the assessments of the international community. That is why communication and meetings with them are so important,” Vepkhvadze said

He also underscored that such meetings are very significant for the prevention of future violations.

The polarization issue was also touched upon by Vepkhvadze, however, from a different angle.

“During the former elections there was one political party owning all the resources (meaning UNM). Now there is a second party (Georgian Dream Coalition). They are trying to create such an attitude as if there are only two political players,” Vepkvadze suggested.

Leader of the non-parliamentary opposition party, Davit Gamkrelidze, spoke on the importance of the PACE observing mission and underscored that much would depend on their actions and statements.

“It is a very powerful organization and even voters’ activeness on October 1 will depend on the mission’s active participation in the election process.” Gamkrelidze stated, adding that the monitoring mission should also react on the violations concerning the voters, especially in Georgia's regions.

The opposition Labour party also met with the mission. According to the party members, they have delivered information concerning the usage of administrative resources from the ruling party’s side and on the influx of oligarch money inside the country.