“Next month’s Karabakh elections will be the best elections held in the South Caucasus.”

The Chairman of Parliament of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was in the United Kingdom last week as a guest of the British Armenian Parliamentary Group. Ashot Ghoulian also visited Oxford University where he met a group of students and academics to discuss the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Speaking at Manchester-Harris College at the invitation of the Oxford Armenia Society Ghoulian answered questions regarding the forthcoming Presidential elections in Nagorno-Karabakh due on 19 July. More…

Pressure grows on Georgian government to create a level playing field in the Georgian media ahead of October’s elections.

Georgian NGOs that form part of the campaign “This concerns you!” have sent an open letter to the Georgian Parliament urging the legislative body to take the interests of the public and the voters into account and introduce “must-carry” and “must-offer” rules in the legislation regulating media activities.

“Do not allow any kind of restriction of access to any media outlet; Take into account opinions and recommendations provided by international organizations on the necessity of pluralistic media in the country,” reads the letter.The letter also discusses the restriction of access to Channel 9 and the decision to switch off radio signal in mini buses, moves seen as aimed at restricting citizen’s access to information. “Even if there is some legal basis for the decisions, the end result has become a matter of concern for numerous non-governmental and media organizations and citizens,” says the letter. More…

Fears that Elections in Nagorno-Karabakh may inflame tensions on Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact.

The campaign in the Presidential election in the self-declared Nagorno- Karabakh Republic is taking place amidst the backdrop of heightened tension of the line of contact separating Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. Last week there were reports on casualties on both sides in the most serious incidents reported this year. Karabakh and surrounding areas were reported tense, and the President of the self-declared republic extended the period of conscription of current military recruits by one month.

Azerbaijan has condemned the elections, scheduled for 19 July 2012 as a provocation. International organisations and western countries are expected to declare that they will not recognise the results because of the current status of the territory and since the Azerbaijani population of the territory which was displaced by the conflict cannot vote. More…

Prosecutors and footballers, journalists and actors: a colourful mix of candidates start lining up for Georgia’s parliamentary elections.

Political parties in Georgia have started preparing candidates for next October’s parliamentary elections.

Davit Sakvarelidze, has resigned from his post as First Deputy Prosecutor General of Georgia to contest a parliamentary seat in the capital Tbilisi

The First Deputy Prosecutor General of Georgia, Davit Sakvarelidze, announced on June 11 that he was resigning in order to enter politics. Georgian media have speculated over the last days that Sakvarelidze will become the majoritarian candidate for the ruling United National movement (UNM) in the Krtsanisi District of the Capital Tbilisi.

A UNM official told the Georgian news portal Civil.ge on that Sakvarelidze’s possible candidacy in Krtsanisi single-mandate constituency was under consideration, but no final decision was yet made.

In the meantime, at a Rally held in Kutaisi, the leader of the Georgian Dream Coalition, Bidhzina Ivanishvili has named six out of the twelve majoritarian candidates for the Imereti region of Georgia.

Gubaz Sanikidze, one of the leaders of National Forum – one of the parties within the Georgian Dream coalition will run in Kutaisi, which is Georgia’s second largest city and one of the largest single-mandate constituencies.

Kakha Kaladze, a retired footballer, who was a captain of the Georgian national team and who won the Champions League on two occasions with AC Milan, will run in his native town of Samtredia. He is pictured hear wearing the distinctive red and black Milan colours during match with Fiorentina

Kakha Kaladze, a retired footballer, who was a captain of the Georgian national team and who won the Champions League on two occasions with AC Milan, will run in his native town of Samtredia. More…

The battle for Kutaisi

Georgia’s main opposition movement, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “Georgian Dream” coalition, took its campaign to the country’s second city Kutaisi, on Sunday, 10 June. Ivanishvili addressed a large crowd of thousands from behind a bullet proof screen, as concerns regarding the billionaire’s safety increased as his popularity increases. People from all over the Central Georgian province of Imereti congregated in Kutaisi’s David the Builder Square to hear Ivanishvili introduce the candidates who will run for the single seat majoritarian constituencies in the province on the Georgian Dream ticket next October.

Earlier the local government had refused permission for the rally to be held in the city’s main square.

The event in Imereti was an important test for Ivanishivili’s popularity outside the capital where it was thought that his support was weaker. Imereti is likely to be one of the most hotly contested areas during the autumn’s parliamentary elections in Georgia and unlike other regions outside the capital Tbilisi it has a record of voting against the incumbent government.

Kutaisi was always considered as the second most important city in the country and this has been re-enforced by the decision of the Georgian government to move the parliament there from the capital. The new parliament building was used last month for a special session of the Parliament addressed by President Saakashvili. Some MPs had expressed concern that the building was not safe and should not be used yet. On Friday a local worker was killed when scaffolding collapsed on him. This was the third death connected with the parliament building, a mother and child died on the site of the building during the demolition of a former a war monument to make way for the new legislature. The government has been criticised that in its haste to finish the building it is flaunting safety regulations .

The new parliament building was the subject of a story filed from Kutaisi on 10 June by the BBC’s Damien McGuiness for the BBC web site.

“Looking like some sort of 1960s sci-fi spaceship, a 40 metre-high domed eye, with a huge concrete eyelid, stares out blankly. This is Georgia’s new parliament building.”

 Read his story on line 

Source: CEW

Georgia in transition: US leaders hammer in importance of free and fair elections

American political leaders have over the last few days highlighted the importance of free and fair elections in Georgia whilst also expressing support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and for the right of the Georgian nation to decide its future.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton linked the two messages during a press conference in Batumi on June 5th, at the end of her visit to the country. She said that free and fair elections that will result into a fully democratic transfer of power will be the “single best thing” Georgia can do to advance its security, democracy and international reputation. More…