“Any shvilli is fine as long as he is the true choice of the Georgian people.” EPC hosts roundtable discussion about Georgia in Brussels.

Speakers at an event on the Georgian elections held at the E{PC in Brussels on 19 September 2012.

The leading Brussels think tank, The European Policy Centre (EPC), on 19 September hosted a round table discussion on the Georgian elections with the participation of Georgian politicians, and representatives from European institutions and civil society. The well attended event was chaired by Amanda Paul, Senior Analyst at the EPC.

The different views of the Georgian political spectrum were presented by Giorgi Kandelaki, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Georgian Parliament and an activist of the United National Movement who gave a spirited, somewhat aggressive presentation, whilst the opposition view was presented by a more statesmanlike presentation by Tedo Japaridze, Georgia former Foreign Minister and currently International Secretary of the Georgian Dream coalition.

The European perspective was given by the Estonian Ambassador to the EU Matti Maasikas, Polish MEP Krzysztof Lisek, Jacqueline Hale, a senior policy analyst at the Open Society Institute in Brussels and Dennis Sammut, Executive Director of LINKS, the London based think tank. More…

Opinion: The sanctity of the secret ballot.

A secret ballot is an essential prerequisite of any free election. Even in the most sophisticated of democracies ensuring the privacy of the voter so that his or her choice will be secret is a crucial part of the electoral process.

The issue becomes much more serious in societies in transition where voter intimidation is widespread, and where vote buying remains a serious problem, resulting in a voter needing to show his vote to the buyer to justify the payment. More…

Extracts from the response to Baramidze’s by opposition spokesman and former foreign minister, Tedo Japaridze, published by New Europe on 24 July 2012.

Tedo Japaridze was for a long time the Georgian Ambassador in Washington, serving there from 1994 -2002. In March 2002 he chaired the

Georgian National Security Council. His televised speech in that capacity in November 2003 at the height of the “Rose Revolution” probably

sealed the fate of the Shevardnadze government. Japaridze was appointed for a short time as Georgian foreign Minister after the revolution

but did not see eye to eye with many of the leaders that emerged after those events and was removed in March 2004.

He retains respect in key elements within the international community, particularly the US. In 2011 he became a member of the core team of

Bidzhina Ivanishvili’s party, and subsequently of the Georgian Dream coalition. More…

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…

Georgia’s State Audit Service widens investigations into companies associated with the opposition, amid warnings from the EU and the OSCE. 1

CEW Editorial writer Karina Gould follows the latest moves by Georgia’s State Audit Service against the Georgian Dream Coalition.

On the heels of the property seizure and fines levied against Georgian Dream leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, this week witnessed a continuation of the State Audit Service’s (SAS) investigation into campaign and party financing in Georgia. More…

OSCE/ODIHR prepares to deploy 400 international observers for Georgia’s autumnas report of its “Needs Assessment Mission” highlights polorised environment. 1

An OSCE/ODIHR “Needs assessment mission”, ahead of Georgia’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, has released its report following its visit to the country from 11-15 June. The report noted a “polarised” electoral environment in Georgia and stated the need to ensure that the elections are observed evenly across the country, with particular emphasis on the regions with national minorities.

The OSCE/ODIHR representatives called for OSCE Member States to pledge 28 long-term observers to be deployed for the campaign period and 350 short-term observers for the actual election day, in addition to the core OSCE/ODIHR staff. While noting several improvements, and the implementation of many of the OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission’s previous recommendations to the electoral framework and preparations, the report highlighted concerns surrounding voters’ lists, abuse of administrative funds for campaign purposes, intimidation of opposition supporters in the regions, the rigidity and selectivity of the State Audit Service (SAS), and the political polarisation of the media. The report recommended the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission (EOM) concentrate its activities on monitoring the implementation and impact of the new electoral legal framework, media coverage of the campaign, the application of the new regulations for campaign financing, the performance of the complaints and appeals mechanism, and the general conduct of candidates throughout the campaign. More…