Civil Society Forum calls for free and fair elections across the Eastern Partnership
EU for Integrity: grants up to €40,000 for CSOs from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
With the support of the European Union, the Open Government Partnership under the EU for Integrity programme has launched an ongoing call for project proposals for its members from the Eastern Partnership – registered civil society organisations and consortia from Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
Applicants should focus on using the OGP platform for expanding civil society engagement and building cross-sectoral partnerships in the areas of integrity, anti-corruption, public service delivery, justice, COVID-19 response and recovery, and civic space.
Grants up to €40,000 will cover 4-12 months of the implementation period.
Unlike regular OGP competitions, this call for proposals does not have a specific due date. The proposals are reviewed quarterly.
The call is announced as part of the EU for Integrity Programme for the Eastern Partnership, funded by the EU and jointly implemented by the Open Government Partnership and the OECD Anti-Corruption Network.
Prime Minister I. Garibashvili participates in 6th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has joined the leaders of EU institutions, member states, and partner countries to participate in the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels.
The Head of Government, in his speech at the summit, reaffirmed the steadfastness of Georgia's European aspirations and European choice, also speaking about the Associated Trio and describing this format as a clear demonstration of one of the partnership's key principles of differentiation. The Prime Minister expressed hope that the cooperation between the Trio and the EU will grow even deeper to help fully tap into the opportunities offered under the Association Agreement. Irakli Garibashvili, in his speech at the summit, focused on the region's security challenges and emphasized the need of the EU's enhanced engagement in conflict-resolution, including toward the full implementation of the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement mediated by the EU.
At the summit, the EU Reiterated the strategic importance of the Eastern Partnership and the European choice and aspirations of the Associated Partners, also pointing out that the sovereign right of partner countries to define the depth of their relations and the quality of cooperation with EU.
The summit welcomed the effort of the so-called Associated Trio (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) toward deeper cooperation with the EU, seeking to put in place close coordination with one another in this process, including for the implementation of the Association Agreement and intensification of cooperation under the Eastern Partnership.
The leaders reiterated firm support for partner countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity within their internationally recognized borders. Special attention was paid to the region's security situation, emphasizing that blatant violations of international law undermine peace in Europe. In this context, the need to renew efforts toward regulating regional conflicts was emphasized, something also implying the EU's enhanced engagement.
The summit's participants expressed support for differentiation, one of the Eastern Partnership's key principles that defines granting, on an individual basis, EU integration tools to concrete partner countries. In this context, the Associated Trio's gradual integration into the single EU market is planned.
At the summit, the leaders adopted a political declaration expressing full support for pressing priority issues within the scope of the Eastern Partnership. The new agenda of the Eastern Partnership, as part of the declaration, was developed through Georgia's active involvement together with the EU and other partners. Consequently, an ambitious agenda has been set to promote the empowerment of the partner countries' security, economy, institutions, and environmental and digital transformation mechanisms. The new Eastern Partnership agenda, besides maximally strengthening general resilience tools for the Eastern Partnership member states, also involves reaching important short- and medium-term objectives, to be ensured through the new EU External Investment Plan with a volume of 2.3 billion euro (with the potential to attract 17 billion euro in investments). For Georgia, this means stronger transport, energy, and digital connectivity, including through maximally tapping into the Black Sea's potential. Other important projects will be implemented as well to bring tangible results to citizens, including accession to the single euro payments area, reduced roaming fees between the region's countries and with the EU, support for SMEs, including startups, fostering the mobility of students and the academic community, enhanced access to the European Solidarity Corps, Erasmus +, and Horizon Europe programs, and others.
The Eastern Partnership Summit is the highest-level format for dialogue between the EU and the Eastern Partnership member states. Convened one every two years, it involves discussing crucially important strategic and political issues and agreeing them by the relevant parties.
Press Service of the Government Administration
‘Uphill, but an essential and a worthy battle’: Michel welcomes the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Assembly
Сivil society have played and is playing a crucial role in making progress in the critical areas of the Eastern Partnership, including political cooperation, economic recovery, and democratic reforms, said President Charles Michel addressing the participants of the Civil Society Assembly.
The 13th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF), ‘Road to recovery: fostering reform and resilience for a stronger Eastern Partnership’ is taking place from 30 November to 2 December bringing together online more than 300 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and decision-makers from the Eastern Partner countries and the EU.
We have advanced our partnership in spite of challenges ranging from economic crises to armed conflicts and the COVID pandemic,” said Charles Michel. “You must continue to step forward and make your voices heard.”
The President added that the EU will insist in tackling challenges facing the Eastern Partnership: “Strengthening democracy, fighting corruption, defending the rule of law, guaranteeing a free media, and countering disinformation – this is an uphill battle, but an essential and a worthy battle”.
The Assembly will prepare its recommendations in the run-up of the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit (15-16 December 2021).
Polling Process Is Complete
The polling process is complete. 1 025 406 voters took part in elections, which is 49.09% of the total number of voters. 478 642 voters participated in the polling in the capital during the day (47,7%). The COVID-19 regulations were fully adhered to at the polls. Procedural inaccuracies were detected in certain cases, though they did not cause the termination of the voting process. I would like to thank voters for being active and for following COVID-19 regulations during the polling process. Additionally, I would like to thank members of election commissions at all levels and employees for well-administering the elections. I would like to extend my gratitude to involved parties, observers, and the media.
A special, full of responsibility phase of vote counting is starting right now for the election administration. I would like to urge election commissions of all levels to follow the norms defined by the election legislation. Polling stations were closed at 20:00 according to the legislation and right now the vote-counting process is underway. Video recording of vote counting procedures is being conducted at those electoral precincts where the number of registered voters exceeded 300. After precinct election commissions’ (PECs) summary protocols are drawn up, they are being delivered to the district election commissions (DECs). The DECs will scan the PEC summary protocols and send them to the CEC in the shortest possible time. The CEC upon receipt of the PEC summary protocols will gradually upload them into special webpage results.cec.gov.ge.
Please see the following statistics - 1318 phone calls and 262 online messages were received at the CEC Contact Hub from 07:00 to 20:00. The vast majority of them concerned the voters’ request to verify their data in the list, specify addresses of their polling stations, and the election procedures. The election administration calls on all electoral stakeholders during their work to facilitate the election administration to carry out its duty in a peaceful environment so that the will of every voter is reflected and the vote-counting process is not disrupted.
Vote on 2 October was a missed opportunity for local democracy in Georgia, says Head of Congress delegation
Strasbourg, 4 October 2021 - The Congress concluded its mission to observe the local elections held on 2 October in Georgia. David ERAY (Switzerland, EPP/CCE, R), Head of the delegation, underlined the extremely polarized political environment in the country as well as an increase in verbal aggression, hate speech and fake news on social media during the campaign. “This polarisation had a paralyzing effect on local democracy which, in fact, has been taken hostage of the overall national political situation. Against this background, this poll was a missed opportunity for local democracy in Georgia”, Mr Eray stated. The overall unlevel playing field, pressure on voters and vote-buying were further features of these elections which raised concern of the Congress delegation.
Further to the invitation by the Georgian authorities, the Congress carried out an election observation mission from 29 September to 3 October 2021 and observed the local elections held on 2 October as part of a joint international election observation mission together with the OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament. The Congress mission comprised 18 members representing 15 Council of Europe countries who observed elections in 9 regions of Georgia, visiting in total some 120 polling stations from the opening until the closing.
The Election Day was overall calm, orderly, transparent and well organised. Except for some inconsistencies, particularly regarding the set-up of polling booths and finger-inking, the Congress observers did not notice major shortcomings during the voting procedures. Some polling stations in urban areas, mostly in Tbilisi, were comparatively small considering the large number of commission members and domestic observers and thus over-crowded. This led also to some confusion about the different roles of election workers, notably during the counting. Some of the Congress observers also reported violations of the new regulation on the 100-meter-perimeter around polling stations.
Although new regulations were put in place to increase number of women on candidate lists by placing at least one in every three candidates of the opposite gender on the ballot, this legal provision proved insufficient as women were almost always placed as the third, sixth or ninth candidate, thus having much lower chances to get elected than their male counterparts. “In our opinion, this was against the spirit of the law”, Mr Eray stated.
Prior to the Election Day, the Congress delegation held meetings in Tbilisi with various interlocutors, including representatives of the diplomatic corps, domestic and international NGOs, media representatives, the Central Elections Commission and with the Deputy Minister of Justice and Head of Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections, Mr Tornike Cheishvili. Meetings with representatives from different parties including GD, UNM, For Georgia and European Georgia rounded off the preparatory programme of the Congress. The Congress report will be presented at the next Monitoring Committee and adopted during the 42nd Congress Plenary in March 2022.