EU-Georgia Parliamentary Committee flags up important issues connected with the forthcoming elections.

The EU flag flies outside the building of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi.

The 14th EU-Georgia Parliamentary Co-operation Committee met in Tbilisi on 2-3 May 2012 under the Chairmanship of David Darchiashvili, representing the Georgian Parliament and Milan Cabrnoch representing the European Parliament. The meeting approved a document entitled “Final Statement and Recommendations, pursuant to Article 89 of the EU-Georgia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement” which includes 37 articles covering a range of issues. More…

Interview: EVGENI KIRILOV MEP “The European Parliament expects the three South Caucasus countries to ensure free fair and transparent elections.”

Caucasus Elections Watch has interviewed Evgeni Kirilov MEP, Rapporteur of the European Parliament on developing a strategy for the South Caucasus and asked him for his views on the current election trends in the South Caucasus.

CEW:  This month we have seen the start of an election cycle in the South Caucasus, with important elections in all the three countries scheduled over the next two years. What are the expectations of the European Parliament from this process?

E. Kirilov: The European Parliament has always followed very closely the democratisation processes in all the three South Caucasus countries. A special focus is given particularly on the electoral process as a corner-stone of any functioning democratic system. Therefore the European Parliament expects from its three partners in the region to continue with the democratic reforms and to ensure that the forthcoming important elections in the next three years will respond to the European standards and will be free, fair and transparent. More…

Georgian Government sets up inter-agency election task force

The Georgian government announced on May 18 that it was setting up of an inter-agency group to monitor and react on possible violations ahead of October parliamentary elections and “to ensure a transparent and fair” electoral environment.

Giga Bokeria, Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council and Head of the Election Task Force (picture courtesy of BBC)

The Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) is headed by Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria, and includes representatives from the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice, Regional Development and Infrastructure, Finance, and Foreign Affairs, as well as from the office of National Security Council.

Creation of such group is envisaged by the election code, according to which the deadline for setting of the inter-agency task force was July 1, 2012. According to the election code, IATF is mandated with “preventing of and reacting to violations of electoral legislature by public officials.” More…

Georgian Civil society struggles to regain former glory.

For the last nine years Georgian NGOs and civil society in general have been struggling to regain the status within their society that they held prior to the Rose Revolution of November 2003. That event on the one hand brought many civil society leaders into the political mainstream, as the government of President Saakashvili tapped into the talent of the mainly young civil society leadership to fill many government posts. On the other hand the government’s approach to what was left of civil society has since then not always been friendly. A senior government official recently described civil society leaders as “Tbilisi based, elitist and disconnected”.

There are some signs that a new generation of civil society leaders are now ready to reclaim the ground lost. More…

Armenia’s voters list causes controversy.

The voters list has once more emerged as one of the main problems connected with Armenian elections. Opposition activists accuse the Armenian government of artificially inflating the voter’s list by several hundred thousand voters as part of organised election fraud. The issue is somewhat more complicated, but many questions remain.

On 25 April 2012 the Armenian Passports and Visas Department (PVD) of the Armenian Police, the entity that is responsible to compile the country’s election list, published the names of those entitled to vote in the May 6 elections. The list had 2,482,238 names. After some adjustments in the days prior to the elections, the final election list on the eve of the election included 2,484,003 names.

This figure immediately triggered an outcry from opposition parties who questioned how there could be in 2012 more than 150,000 additional voters in Armenia then in 2008, when it was common knowledge that the population of the country had decreased as a result of outward migration during the recent economic crisis. More…

Elections cycle in the South Caucasus kicks off to a wobbly start.

Over the next eighteen months the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, will conduct important elections that many consider will determine the future of the individual countries and of the region, and most certainly will decisively impact their relations with Europe.

The cycle kicked off on May 6th with Parliamentary Elections in Armenia. Parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for October. Next year will see the three countries voting in Presidential elections.

The region has a history of troubled and contested elections, and whilst some polls have been better than others, many observers feel that there has not been a single election, since the three countries regained their independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that fully met international standards. This situation continuously raises questions of legitimacy around the three governments, and has been a matter of concern to European Union and US officials, who are keen to increase relations with the region and see this situation as a major obstacle. More…