PACE to observe the 2nd round of the presidential election in Georgia

Published in Society
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 09:27

Strasbourg, 26.11.2018 – Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL) and Reina de Bruijn-Wezeman (Netherlands, ALDE), members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will travel to Georgia from 27 to 29 November to observe the conduct of the second round of the presidential election, alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, European Parliament and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

They are due to meet the two candidates, the Central Election Commission, and representatives of the media, before observing the ballot on Wednesday 28 November.

A joint press conference is scheduled on Thursday 29 November at 2.30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, Grand Royal Ballroom, 29 Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi.

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    After a long and divisive campaign, the people of Georgia cast their votes in the second round of municipal elections on October 30.  We commend the voters, and dedicated election workers, representatives of Georgia’s professional domestic election observation organizations and NGOs, and international monitors who participated despite the COVID pandemic and a tense election environment.    

    We share ODIHR’s assessment that the elections were generally calm and well-administered but allegations of intimidation and pressure on voters persisted and continued polarization, coupled with the escalation of negative rhetoric, adversely affected the process.  Sharp imbalances of resources and an undue advantage of incumbency further tilted the playing field.  ODIHR also noted concerns with the persistent practice of representatives of observer organizations acting as party supporters, at times interfering with the process, and groups of individuals potentially influencing voters outside some polling stations.  While ODIHR found that the CEC organized the second round in a professional and transparent manner, concerns over the impartiality of the lower-level election commissions persisted.  U.S. Embassy election observation teams witnessed similar interference and bias at several precincts.  

    As these elections have shown, democracy is a work in progress.  It requires dedication to the highest international standards and vigilance to ensure citizens’ rights and freedoms are protected.  Some of the reforms enacted by Georgia’s political leaders through an inclusive, multiparty process earlier this year, such as automatic recounts and electronic vote counting, largely succeeded in increasing the transparency of the voting process.   

    These positive steps forward were undermined, unfortunately, by wide-spread violations in the pre-election period and on both election days that adversely affected the ability of citizens to vote freely.  Rather than improving the atmosphere by addressing problems identified by election observers in the first round, intimidation, offensive rhetoric, misuse of administrative resources, and reports of blatant vote-buying and other violations continued, and a politicized media further inflamed the polarized atmosphere. 

    We are particularly troubled by credible reports of violence against election observers and the media during both rounds of the election.  These groups are the cornerstone of any democracy, and attacks against members of the media and election observers must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Their reports should be viewed as providing valuable information that can improve the electoral process.    

    The election process now continues with random recounts of at least 140 precincts and the adjudication of hundreds of complaints.  This phase is both a test and an opportunity for the Central Election Commission and the courts, and it will be critical for these institutions to perform their duties transparently and impartially.  We call on the parties to use the legal mechanisms available and pursue peaceful means to adjudicate election disputes.  Democracy in Georgia will not be strengthened by resorting to violence or pursuing solutions outside the law.  

    Each election – even imperfect ones – offers lessons learned and an opportunity to address persistent abuses that have degraded recent elections and eroded the public’s trust in their democratic institutions.  As a start, we urge Georgia’s leaders to enact and implement all the remaining reforms recommended by ODIHR, the Venice Commission, and other international experts.  These recommendations were provided at Parliament’s request and would be a significant step toward ensuring the next elections are an improvement over the last.  

    The American people have supported Georgia’s efforts throughout the long, challenging process of building strong institutions, a robust civil society, a professional, pluralistic media, and a government that is responsive to the people.   The recent elections and Georgia’s deeply divisive political environment show much more work is urgently needed.  The United States has offered our friendship as an honest partner to the people and government of Georgia because we believe in Georgia’s future as a stable, prosperous democracy that respects the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.  We remain committed to helping Georgia achieve those goals.  

    U.S. Embassy Statement 

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia started preparations for the elections as early as in April and sent invitations to all international observers - David Zalkaliani

    According to the Georgian Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani, the local self-government elections scheduled for 2 October will be monitored by international observation missions.
     
    The Vice Prime Minister said that the Georgian government started preparations for the elections as early as in April. Formal invitations were sent to all international observer missions, including the OSCE/ODIHR EOM, as well as to all international organizations and partner countries. "Two invitations were sent, one in April, before the election date was announced, and the other – immediately after the election date was officially announced" - Zalkaliani added.
     
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    “We’ll do our utmost to ensure that international observers do their work safely and in normal conditions” – added the Minister.

    MFA of Georgia

  • PACE President makes working visit to Georgia

    Strasbourg, 23.07.2021 – Rik Daems, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is to make a working visit to Georgia on 27 and 28 July 2021.

    In Tbilisi he is due to meet the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign, Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers. Meetings are also planned with the chairs of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee and the Permanent Parliamentary Gender Equality Council, and with members of the Georgian parliamentary delegation to PACE.

    The Assembly brings together 324 members from the national parliaments of the 47 member states. President: Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) - Secretary General of the Assembly: Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis. Political groups: SOC (Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group); EPP/CD (Group of the European People's Party); EC/DA (European Conservatives Group & Democratic Alliance); ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); UEL (Group of the Unified European Left).

  • U.S. Embassy Statement on the Appointment of Judges

    Parliament’s July 12 decision to approve six Supreme Court judicial nominations, despite an explicit agreement by Georgia’s political leaders in the April 19 Agreement to “refrain from making appointments to the Supreme Court under existing rules”, is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, this nomination and appointment process, and the failure to undertake inclusive, comprehensive judicial reform, fell short of the commitment Georgia’s leaders, including the ruling party, made to implement the April 19 Agreement in good faith.

    The parties agreed to conduct ambitious judicial reform through a broad, transparent process that includes legal experts, civil society, and opposition parties. Unilateral legislative changes, including those adopted against the advice of international partners while the April 19 Agreement was being negotiated, are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Agreement. In particular, the early April amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts failed to fully address Venice Commission recommendations, including a key recommendation related to staggering judicial appointments. 

    The failure to pause the appointment process until after comprehensive judicial reform could take place has real consequences. Legal experts and civil society organizations have highlighted that Parliament’s flawed process did not advance the most qualified nominees, resulting in less-qualified judges receiving lifetime appointments on the court. As a July 9 report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) found, this nomination process, “took place in an environment where there is a lack of public trust in the independence of the judiciary,” and “applications, background checks, and interviews established by the High Council of Justice for these nominations fell short of international standards.” Given this context, it was imperative that Parliament pause the appointment process to allow for inclusive, comprehensive reform reflecting the input of legal experts, civil society, and opposition. Parliament had the authority to do so and a pause would not have unduly burdened the judiciary’s operation. The decision not to do so is therefore very concerning and constitutes a significant missed opportunity to strengthen confidence in Georgia’s judiciary and advance its democratic development.      

    The United States stands ready to continue our efforts to support Parliament and the people of Georgia in credible efforts to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law in Georgia.

  • Georgian delegation to participate in PACE session

    The Summer Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) takes place on June 21-24 in Strasbourg. The Permanent Delegation members of Georgian Parliament Irakli Chikovani and Tamar Taliashvili are participating in the session.

    The delegation members will join the debates and hold bilateral meetings with various delegations’ heads and PACE officials.

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will mark the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) with an event on this topic at its Summer plenary session, taking place from 21 to 24 June 2021 in a hybrid format, allowing members to participate remotely or attend in person in Strasbourg.

    This event, an initiative of PACE President Rik Daems, will include speeches by: Nadia Murad, winner of the 2016 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize; Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium; Anca Dana Dragu, President of the Romanian Senate; Elisabeth Moreno, French Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities; and Dubravka Šimonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences. Zita Gurmai, PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women, will highlight the way forward to make progress with the signature, ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

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    In addition, the Assembly will discuss the protection of fundamental rights and the legal implications of Covid passes or certificates; the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic; and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights.

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    In the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó will address the Assembly and answer questions. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will also take part in a question and answer session.

    Reports on the recent parliamentary elections in Bulgaria and Albania will be discussed. PACE will also elect a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Croatia.

     

     

     

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