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OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation Visits Tbilisi

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, August 22
An OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation headed by the OSCE President Riccardo Migliori visited Tbilisi on August 21st. During the visit the OSCE delegation met with Georgian parliament members, representatives of opposition coalition Georgian Dream and NGO leaders.

According to Georgian Dream spokesperson Maia Panjikidze, the delegates wanted to hear the position of the main opposition party 40 days prior to the elections.

"We gave them detailed information, not only verbally, but we gave them documents which fully reflect what the government has implemented against the Georgian Dream coalition since last October to present," Panjikidze remarked.

Transparency International Executive Director Eka Gigauri emphasized the misuse of administrative resources. “We talked about how the ruling party uses government resources to achieve their success.” she told journalists after the meeting.

“We discussed the activity of the State Audit Agency, and the imposed fines and seizures. I have the impression that they were surprised.” said Chairperson of the Young Georgian Lawyers Association Tamar Chugoshvili.

During the visit, the OSCE President Riccardo Migliori also met with the Georgian parliament members to get information about the pre-election situation in the country.

Vice speaker of Parliament, MP Gigi Tsereteli told journalists after the meeting that it was a preparatory meeting before the arrival of the larger OSCE election monitoring team. Lawmakers said after the meeting that the questions posed by OSCE envoys mostly concerned the implementation of the new electoral legislation adopted by Parliament recently.

“For the next few days they will be observing the election campaign in the country - how the laws adopted by the parliament are being implemented, how the reforms work. They will make no assessments because this is a preparatory meeting before the large delegation of OSCE observers arrive in Georgia to monitor the elections,” Gigi Tsereteli said.

Meanwhile Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reporters expressed concern over the seizure of Georgian Dream members’ bank accounts stating, “disproportionate fines” imposed by the State Audit Agency “effectively undermine the normal political activity of the opposition party."

Michael Aastrup Jensen from Denmark and Boriss Cilevics from Latvia, stated that seizure of the Georgian Dream members' bank accounts was undermining the opposition coalition’s participation in the election campaign for the October 1st parliamentary elections.

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

“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 forthcoming elections, and their democratic conduction, 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.” the PACE reporters’ statement reads.

The above mentioned two reporters plan to visit Georgia on September 11th-12th as part of the PACE pre-election mission.