The United States Embassy congratulates the people of Georgia and the thousands of election workers and professional domestic observers who participated in the October 2 elections. The high voter turnout despite the COVID-19 pandemic is indicative of the continued commitment of the people of Georgia to democracy and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path. Municipal elections matter because the local level is where citizens’ needs and interests are met most directly by their elected representatives. Georgia’s citizens have frequently expressed their desire for a greater voice in decisions that affect their lives. The lack of focus on local issues in yesterday’s elections was a missed opportunity to make progress towards achieving that goal.
The United States shares the OSCE ODIHR’s initial assessment that these elections were technically well-administered, but that the environment was marred by widespread and consistent allegations of intimidation, vote-buying, pressure against candidates and voters, pervasive misuse of citizen observers as party representatives, and an uneven playing field, including in the pre-election period. While voters were able to cast their votes in a largely calm environment on October 2, the election process is about more than Election Day. We share ODIHR’s concerns about the polarized media landscape, the significant imbalance of resources and insufficient oversight of campaign finances, the under-representation of women in the campaign, reports of misuse of administrative resources, and pressure against journalists.
We commend the professional domestic election observation organizations – in particular, ISFED, GYLA, PMMG, and TI – for informing the public with sound, balanced assessments and reliable information throughout the campaign period and on Election Day. Their important contributions have, over time, improved the election process. We are concerned by reports that some of these respected domestic NGOs reported barriers to observing the elections.
The continued blurring of the line between state and party resources is deeply disturbing. Significant reports about the misuse of administrative resources during the campaign raised doubts about the overall fairness of the elections. In many towns and villages, pressure against teachers, law enforcement officers, and other public sector workers reportedly interfered with their ability to exercise their free choice on Election Day. This type of abuse has occurred too often in Georgian elections and is wholly incompatible with Georgia’s democratic and Euro-Atlantic ideals. There is a dangerous risk that these and other recurring elections violations are becoming accepted as inevitable. Georgian voters deserve a higher standard of integrity in their election process.
We also regret actions that are likely to further polarize and destabilize Georgia’s already tense political situation, and parties’ emphasis on personal attacks rather than addressing voters’ priorities. These actions call into question some political parties’ commitment to the principle that political legitimacy should be won or lost at the ballot box.
We commend Parliament’s recent efforts to adopt electoral reforms to address some of the deficiencies identified during previous elections. While some measures resulted in positive changes, the overall failure to significantly reduce recurring patterns of violations, especially during the pre-election period, is disappointing. We call on Parliament, including opposition parties, to recommit in good faith to strengthening Georgia’s election system in a comprehensive manner; to implement key reforms – including judicial reforms – recommended by ODIHR, the Venice Commission, and Georgia’s international partners; and to pass constitutional amendments ensuring that all future parliamentary elections will be fully proportional, as they have previously pledged to do. This reform process must be implemented hand-in-hand with citizens and civil society.
Now is the time to build political alliances among parties to urgently address the issues that are most important to Georgia’s citizens. As it has in the past, Georgia must meet the challenges of building its democracy with courage, compromise, and resolve. Each election is a chance to strengthen and improve the democratic process. On October 2, Georgia’s citizens exercised their precious right to vote, to be heard, and to hold their political leaders accountable. We call on all parties to resist efforts to further polarize the political situation, to maintain a calm post-election environment, and to ensure the fair, impartial adjudication of electoral complaints. The second round of voting is an opportunity to improve the process and conduct an orderly, competitive run-off with results Georgians can have full confidence in.
The United States is proud to have stood alongside the people of Georgia over the decades and we will continue to support Georgia’s efforts to build a strong democracy, a prosperous economy, and a stable, secure country.
Cooperation in the field of defense and current security challenges of the region were among the key topics of discussion by and between Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia and Hulusi Akar, Defense Minister of the Republic of Turkey today.
Meeting held at the Government Administration today focused on the strategic partnership between the two countries and close bilateral relations. It was noted that practical support demonstrated by Turkey for dozens of years have played a significant role in the development of defense forces in Georgia. Attention was paid to the multinational joint military exercise and its importance in advancing the defense mechanisms and threat resistance, along with an active engagement of allies and friends in them. The Prime Minister of Georgia thanked the Defense Minister of Turkey for the unwavering support of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as towards membership aspirations to NATO.
Current situation in the region and security issues were also reviewed at the meeting. It was underlined that the Georgian side welcomes the conflict resolution only through the fundamental principles and norms of international law, within the internationally recognized borders, as it has no other alternative.
Press Service of the Government Administration
The military pact among the United States, Britain and Australia, known as AUKUS, poses a risk of nuclear material and technology proliferation, and threatens peace, stability and security in the Asia-Pacific, a Thai expert has said.
"I'm quite sure that the AUKUS poses a risk of proliferation of nuclear material and technology," Surasit Thanadtang, director of the Thai-Chinese Strategic Research Center under the National Research Council of Thailand, told Xinhua in an interview.
The pact will let Australia build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, Surasit said, adding that with the technology provided by the United States, it would go further to weapon technology that might have more impacts on regional peace, stability and security.
"The AUKUS pact is probably the most significant security arrangement among the three nations since WWII, and it focuses on military capability," he said.
Surasit noted that the United States is sharing the submarine technology for the first time in 50 years, and this time it might be more challenging to the region because of the highly enriched uranium material.
"It's already the weapon-grade nuclear. It's not a nuclear for peaceful development," the expert said.
To more effectively safeguard regional peace, stability and development, Surasit said countries should uphold promoting and seeking security cooperation based on a new concept that emphasizes joint and comprehensive cooperation in ensuring sustainable security and creating a security governance framework with regional characteristics.
Countries in the region should jointly build a road of peace, while the key factors of success would include an environment of relative stability and concerted efforts to build development networks, both hard skills and soft skills for youth society, with contribution to regional peace and stability, he said.
He noted that instead of nuclear-powered submarines, what the region needs most is marine research and development in humanitarian, seaside disaster relief, countering terrorism and transnational crime as well as green development of the sea.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service