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Political actors in Georgia should resolve deadlock and participate in the work of the new parliament, OSCE PA leaders say

Thursday, November 19
COPENHAGEN, 17 November 2020 – Amidst demands by the opposition for repeat parliamentary elections in Georgia and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the South Caucasus country today, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s political and security Chair and the leaders of the OSCE’s recent election observation mission reiterated that political deadlock must be overcome in order to ensure that the voters’ will is respected.

“Despite the grave challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, up to two million citizens of Georgia went to the polls on 31 October to make their voices heard,” said Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE election mission Elona Gjebrea Hoxha (MP, Albania) today. “The highest voter turnout since parliamentary elections in 2012 was a testament to the importance of these elections and the strong democratic commitment of all Georgians.”

Hoxha noted the importance of ensuring an inclusive process of reviewing complaints. “Such a process is critical to maintaining Georgian voters’ confidence in the electoral processes developed in recent years,” she said. “Now that this process is concluded all political parties elected should take their mandates, enter parliament, and continue their work within the institutions.”

Finnish parliamentarian Pia Kauma, the Head of the OSCE PA’s delegation of observers, recalled that the 31 October elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected. “The observers found that Georgia, after long consultations facilitated by its international partners, had implemented important democratic reforms to advance its democracy by amending its constitution, improving the parliamentary governance model and setting in motion the transition towards a new electoral system,” Kauma said. She urged stakeholders to overcome the current polarization and to work together for a stable political framework.

“The parties involved in the political deadlock of this moment need to find a way to overcome it,” said United States Congressman Richard Hudson, who serves as Chair of the OSCE PA’s Committee on Political Affairs and Security. “While the complexity of this task is clear, a positive outcome is vital for Georgia’s democratic future.”

Hudson added that Georgia can continue to count on the support of its partners, including those on the ground who are doing an admirable job in trying to help the parties reach agreement, even if it ultimately remains up to Georgians themselves to address the current situation, defuse the political crisis and restore trust in the electoral process.

The opposition is responding to a statement from the OSCE PA that "political actors in Georgia need to get out of the impasse and get involved in the work of the new parliament."

As Nino Burjanadze, the leader of United Georgia, says, "No one can order the opposition to enter a parliament that is rigged." She reminded, that she was once OSCE Vice-President herself, thus knows the Charter and it's functions well enough to argue that the OSCE is not a body that can order anything to the political spectrum of any sovereign state. According to her, the Georgian government will definitely have to compromise because a one-party parliament is such an anachronism in the 21st century, even if such a parliament is formed, it will not work for more than 2-3 months.

Davit Bakradze, one of the leaders of European Georgia, says that "breaking the deadlock is not entering a falsified parliament." Bakradze says OSCE's statement was not surprising, since they are practically repeating what they said on October 31st, adding that unfortunately, this year the pandemic created a situation where the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other missions were represented on a very limited scale, with a small number of observers, small locations and for a short time.

"Therefore, unlike other elections, this time they had much less factual material, which we continue to deliver. As for getting out of the impasse, yes, the country needs to get out of, but it doesn't mean legalizing lawlessness. Breaking the deadlock is not entering a rigged parliament. Breaking the deadlock in this country is holding elections and deciding who should run the country" he announced, noting that if the Georgian people give a mandate of confidence to the Georgian Dream in fair elections, it's up to them, but the country needs a government that has the mandate of the people and not Tamar Zhvania.

Khatia Dekonoidze, one of the leaders of the United National Party, also responded to the statement: "I want to tell you that all this is an interim assessment of the OSCE, we continue to work with our international partners. It is very important to understand that in parallel with the protest, we have not left a legal loophole, including negotiations, which means that we want to get out of the crisis, so when there are free elections, the Georgian people will definitely use this mandate, but not now."