Unpalatable Georgian dishes

Georgian cuisine is famous for its palatable dishes. It was a different kind of dishes that were on the mind of Georgian NGOs in recent days, as concern increased regarding government action against an independent media company. Civil society watchdogs, Transparency International Georgia and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, in a joint statement calling for transparency from the Tbilisi City Court in the recent seizure of thousands of satellite dishes from the independent media company Maestro TV. More…

OSCE pushes for more women participation in politics in the South Caucasus

A meeting hosted by the OSCE in Yerevan analysed the role of women in the 6 May Parliamentary elections.

As part of its mandate to support and promote pluralism and equal democratic representation, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recently organised events to address the issue of women’s political participation in Baku and Yerevan.

On June 21 and 22, the OSCE office in Baku with support from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) brought together over 30 senior political party officials to discuss how to increase participation amongst women in political parties. More…

Georgian Government accepts the “must carry” initiative.

David Bakradze, Chairman of the Georgian Parliament announced on 22 June that the parliament will legislate within days to adopt the “must carry/must offer” initiative, but this will apply only during the election period.

The Georgian government has decided to accept a proposal of numerous Georgian civil society organisations, aimed at widening access to information available to the Georgian public ahead of Parliamentary elections in October. Parliament is expected to legislate soon so that all cable operators will have to carry all news channels during the election period.

The Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, David Bakradze, said on 22 June that the new legislation would create additional “guarantees to allow television stations to reach out to a larger audience and to expand the area of their coverage.”

Bakradze added that “In particular, the initiative envisages the carrying of all television channels by all the cable operators during the electoral period; I want to stress that it will apply to all the television stations and it will be a huge step that will help the population to receive more information.” Details of the new legislation have not yet been made public, but the announcement was welcomed by both NGOs and opposition parties. More…

Georgian authorities seize 60,000 satellite dishes alleging vote-buying scheme by opposition coalition. Legal watchdogs say the move is illegal.

On 21 June, Georgian police raided warehouses across the country, seizing an estimated 60,000 satellite dish antennas that were to be distributed free of charge by Global TV.

Georgian authorities have claimed that the seizure is part of an on-going criminal investigation into alleged vote-buying by Global TV, in favour of Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the opposition coalition Georgian Dream.

Ivanishvili has been sentenced to a multimillion dollar fine for a loan he made to Global TV to import the satellite dishes. The government has accused Global TV of campaigning for Georgian Dream by portraying the dishes as gifts from the coalition’s leader.

The dishes, which were to be distributed free of charge for one year across the country and then paid for at GEL 4 per month thereafter, were part of a scheme through which Global TV aimed to increase access to all media outlets throughout the country. Currently, Global TV is the only cable provider that offers access to Tbilisi based Channel 9 and Maestro TV, which are considered to be pro-opposition media sources. At the moment, only the major TV networks, Imedi and Rustavi 2 – portrayed as pro-government , are available on all major cable providers throughout the country. Both of these channels have requested their signal be discontinued on Global TV. More…

Georgia lacks adequate checks and balances

The outgoing United States Ambassador to Georgia, John Bass, a few days ago addressed the American Atlantic Council, a Washington based think-tank, during which he took a wide angle look at Georgian politics. It was a thoughtful reflection by a diplomat at the end of an intensive three year period as his country’s main representative in Tbilisi, and it covered many important points. Although the speech was largely sympathetic to the Georgian government, Bass did raise sensitively a number of important shortcomings.

Surprisingly however his speech failed to address what many consider to be the root cause of many of the current political problems in Georgia – the absence of adequate checks and balances. More…

“Almost all our positions coincide with those of the Venice Commission.” 1

Razi Nurullayev

The Azerbaijani pro opposition forum “Public Chamber” will this week hold a round table discussion on the electoral code of Azerbaijan. Ahead of the meeting CEWs Karina Gould interviewed Razi Nurullayev, the Deputy-chairperson for Foreign Affairs of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the Board of Directors at “REGION” International Analytical Centre (RIAC).

CEW: What is the motivation behind the organization of the round table discussions this upcoming week?

RN: The round table discussions will take place on 21 June, 2012 in Baku and are being organized by the pro-democracy opposition group, the Public Chamber of Azerbaijan (PC). The PC emerged in the aftermath of the October 2010 Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan, which left all of the major opposition parties outside of the legislative body without a single seat due to electoral fraud. The PC is taking on this initiative because it is able to bring together most of the political parties, civil society, experts, academics and individual activists in Azerbaijan. More…