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Statement by the PACE pre-electoral delegation visiting Georgia

Strasbourg, 25.09.2013 – The pre-electoral delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)*, ending a two-day visit to Georgia, noted that there was currently a more open, and equally competitive, electoral environment compared to other recent elections. Georgia has the possibility to conduct a Presidential election which enjoys its citizens’ confidence and meets Council of Europe standards, the delegation said. This would be a remarkable achievement for the country and the region.

To achieve this, cases of politically-motivated violence and intimidation of opposition supporters, pressure on officials to resign prematurely from their elected or appointed positions, and undue interference of local officials in the election process must be excluded during the election campaign. The relevant authorities should investigate any allegations of election campaign violations, firm and proportional sanctions should be applied in order to avoid violations in the future, and the public should be informed about measures undertaken.

The delegation noted with satisfaction the consensus between the main political stakeholders concerning the recent amendments to the election legislation and the Law on Political Unions of Citizens adopted by Parliament in July and August 2013. It is now essential to implement the amended legislation in an efficient manner, namely banning the misuse of administrative resources, ensuring the accuracy of voters’ lists, the transparency and control of sources of funding and expenditures by political parties and candidates.

The delegation was informed of cases of intolerance toward minorities. In this regard, it finds any political exploitation of sensitive ethnic and religious issues for electoral purposes unacceptable, all the more so in a multi-ethnic society such as Georgia.

The delegation also noted the competent work of the Central Election Commission. Further improvements in the legislation are needed to increase political parties’ representation at all levels of election commissions.

The delegation regrets the conflictual situation around the Georgian Public Broadcaster. It encourages debates to be held between the presidential candidates.

The delegation held meetings in Tbilisi from 24 to 25 September 2013 at the invitation of the Speaker of Parliament. It met with the main Presidential candidates, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chairperson of the Central Electoral Commission, the Justice Minister and the Secretary of the National Security Council, as well as OSCE/ODIHR observers, NGOs, the media and members of the diplomatic corps. A full PACE observer delegation of 32 members will be back on 27 October.

Contact: Chemavon Chahbazian, Deputy Head, Interparliamentary Co-operation and Election Observation Division, mob: +33 (0)6 50 68 76 55, e-mail: [email protected]

* Members of the pre-electoral delegation: Meritxell Mateu Pi (Andorra, ALDE), head of delegation; Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP/CD); Lord Tomlinson (United Kingdom, SOC); Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC), Co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia.