PACE rapporteurs say fines against Georgian Opposition “undermine normal political activity.”

The co-rapporteurs for Georgia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Michael Aastrup Jensen (Denmark, ALDE) and Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC) today expressed their concern about the reports that the Georgian authorities have seized the bank accounts of the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, thereby undermining its participation in the election campaign for the parliamentary elections that will take place on 1 October 2012.

A statement published on the website of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe states:

“The excessive and disproportionate fines levied by the State Audit Service effectively undermine normal political activity by an opposition party. This is of concern, especially in the context of recurrent allegations of bias of the State Audit Service and reports by credible organisations, such as the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, that question the fairness of the court decisions in this respect.

The rationale for campaign funding legislation is to ensure a level playing field between all electoral contestants, and not to drive one party or the other out of the electoral race. The upcoming elections, and their democratic conduct, are crucial for Georgia’s democratic development. We therefore call upon the Georgian authorities to demonstrate maximum restraint and to ensure that all parties, including the Georgian Dream Coalition, can participate fully in the electoral campaign” they added.

The two co-rapporteurs will visit Georgia on 11 and 12 September 2012 as part of the pre-electoral mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

source: CEW with

OSCE PA, ODIHR…are they the same, Not quite!

Toninu Picula

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has announced that a delegation headed by its President Riccardo Migliori, will visit Tbilisi on 20 August on a pre-election fact-finding mission. He will be accompanied by the Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Tonino Picula, who will head of election observation mission of the Assembly in Georgia in October and by Assembly Secretary General Spencer Oliver.

Picula, who served as the foreign minister of Croatia from 2004 to 2008, has extensive international election observation experience. He has previously led the OSCE election observation missions to Russia in 2012, Kazakhstan in 2011 and Moldova in 2010.

There is already a lot of confusion in the Georgian media about the different roles of the OSCE PA and ODIHR in the election observation process and very little sign that these roles are being properly explained. ODIHR which is supposed to provide long-term observation and deploy hundreds of observers is normally the main instrument of monitoring. The Parliamentary assembly provides the political clout for the OSCE monitoring effort. In theory! In practise the process does not always work so seamlessly.

source: CEW

Less than seven weeks before the Georgian elections: BUT WHERE IS ODIHR?

The crucial parliamentary elections in Georgia are less than seven weeks away. Campaigning ahead of the tense 1 October poll started in earnest two weeks ago when President Saakashvili named the date. In fact political activity had been going since last May and few doubt that this is going to be a crucial election which will define Georgia for many years to come.

Months ago both the Government and the main opposition forces asked ODIHR to deploy election monitors as soon as possible. A formal invitation was also extended by the Georgian Foreign Ministry in accordance with OSCE procedures. Less than seven weeks ahead of the poll however the Mission has not yet arrived. More…

Ilham Aliev to be YAPs candidate in the 2013 elections.

The ruling party of Azerbaijan, the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), has announced that Ilham Aliyev, incumbent president and Chairman of the YAP will be the party’s candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for October 2013. The candidacy was announced last week by deputy party chairman, Ali Ahmadov. Ahmadov stated that the official announcement will be made at a party convention to be held before the elections. More…

Extracts from the interview of Giorgi Baramidze, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia with New Europe on 23 July 2012 1

 Giorgi Baramidze has been a central figure on the Georgian political landscape for the last twenty years. He started his political career as a member of parliament of the Green Party and was a close associate of its leader Zurab Zhvania. He remained a close associate of Zhvania until the latter’s mysterious death in 2005. After the 2003 “Rose revolution” Baramidze became the second most important member of Zhvania’s team in the revolutionary leadership, serving first as interior minister and later as defence Minister. Shortly before Zhvania’s death his star waned somewhat and he was pushed upstairs as Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for European integration. Baramidze retains some popularity at the grassroots and there are reports that he may be fielded as candidate for the ruling United National Movement in his old constituency of Didube in Tbilisi.  More…