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OSCE Secretary General emphasizes dialogue, fairness as elections approach

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 11
Georgia’s concerns over the planned Russian military training exercises scheduled for this autumn can be brought to the attention of the OSCE Security Forum, said Lamberto Zannier, Secretary General of the OSCE, during his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze, on June 10. Zannier also met with Georgian opposition representatives and discussed the current political situation with them.

“Dialogue between the authorities and the opposition is important to ensure equal playing conditions for all sides,” the Secretary General stated. During the meeting with Vashadze, Zannier touched upon the information he had received prior to the meeting regarding the opposition claims of an unfair election environment, the disproportional attitude towards opposition supporters and the existence of an unfair court.

“350 short term observers will be sent to Georgia and will observe the election process. I think that the elections will be fair and will reflect the publics’ will,” Zannier stated.

The OSCE secretary General also emphasized the importance of negotiations pertaining to the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism and the Geneva talks. “We are interested in security and stability and appeal to all sides to exercise constructive attitudes. The OSCE is dedicated to the Geneva talks,” Zannier said.

“The OSCE is well aware of the political situation in Georgia and the monitors who will arrive shortly before the elections are abreast of the current issues that exist inside the country. The OSCE, as one of the major international monitoring organizations, is familiar with all the existing challenges in Georgia today,” Usupashvili, stated. According to representative of the Free Democrats, Viktor Dolidze, the opposition parties delivered quite a bit of information concerning the recent events to Zannier.

According to political analyst Zaza Piralishvili, the main threat to Georgia is its current leadership and not foreign forces. “By constantly talking about the Russian threat and increasing the number of Georgian troops in Afghanistan, Saakashvili is trying to present himself as an influential man on the international stage. However, all attempts will be useless if he has no constituency base inside the state,” Piralishvili said.

“Most important is how many people turn up to vote in the elections. It is important for the opposition parties to feel the public’s support and for people to realize that they are the main participants in the [democratic] process– their choice makes a difference,” the head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili explained.

According analyst Nika Chitadze, the arrival of the OSCE observers during the election period will have a positive effect on holding transparent parliamentary elections. “The OSCE and the EU have a lot of experience in observing elections. It is also important that the observers of those organizations make accurate and detailed reports documenting how fairly the elections were held,” Chitadze said, adding that the authorities are responsible for holding democratic elections, the non-use of administrative resources and the creation of fair and equal conditions for all participants sides,” Chitadze stated and added that in case of failure opposition should recognize defeat.