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Saakashvili welcomes foreign election observers

by | Apr 2, 2012

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said he welcomes election observers and wants many opinion polls, while meeting with Euronest, the parliamentary component of the Eastern Partnership. (Official photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch – President Mikheil Sakashvili says Georgia as never before needs many foreign observers.

“We need many international observers not only on the day of the elections but today, tomorrow, and the day after. The sooner observers arrive from the European Parliament, the European Union, OSCE and other international organizations, the better.”

The Georgian president said this on Saturday during a meeting with members of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, a component of the Eastern Partnership. Yatsek Sariush-Volsky, vice president of the European Peoples’ Party and members of his party’s group in Euronest attended the meeting.

Also attending the meeting were 23 members of parliament (MPs) from different European countries, as well as Georgian colleagues.

The group left for Baku on Sunday together with Georgian MPs. They will participate in a plenary session of Euronest.

During the meeting with the president, the guests discussed issues and recommendations, and a report which will be reviewed at the plenary session in Baku.

The importance of Georgia’s European aspirations and democratic reforms were once more remarked at the meeting. As a result of these reforms and aspirations, Georgia managed to start negotiations with EU about association and deep and comprehensive free trade.

The Georgian president also remarked that it’s very important for the country that elections planned for autumn are conducted democratically. He underlined that it would be good if international organizations will immediately start observing this process.

He also spoke about the importance of surveys.

“It is our desire that international organizations administer many studies, study public opinion, so that various elements bought by money brought from abroad do not have a chance to manipulate the public on election day.”

A few days ago, the results of a new poll by the U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) became publicly known. The poll shows that support for the ruling party is four times higher than that of its main competitor, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition.

The poll has been cricized by many in the opposition, and Georgian Dream sent an open letter to the U.S. ambassador requesting American organizations not to conduct any more surveys about support for political parties before the election, because the results of these surveys are inappropriately used, and this has a negative influence on people’s attitudes.

But the president thinks international organizations should conduct public opinion surveys every week or at least monthly.

“This is why large international organizations, if possible, should administer studies of public opinion so that those desiring to sway public opinion are not able to discredit the process during the elections and after, and cause unrest. Despite their desire, I don’t think they will be able to accomplish it because we have a much more developed democracy, firmer institutions, and a more confident society. This is exactly why we need you to be more active, work more, research public opinion, and monitor the mass media as well as the entire election process. It is important to control the financing of the parties through international instruments, which means employing all international mechanisms accepted in a democratic society.”

The president doesn’t think its a coincidence that Russia is to conduct military exercise not long before the parliamentary elections in Georgia.

“Aside from this, [Russia] will use all possible means to discredit these elections, frighten Georgians through the use of force on one hand, and on the other hand buy Georgian voters by the money flow from that country. However, I think the year 2008 showed us well that it is impossible to change the unshakable will of Georgia by scare tactics and bribes. The Georgian people know well where they are headed. Our multi-ethnic society knows well what are in its best interest. It is not afraid, because it is building a free future for its children and society.”

Mikheil Saakashvili informed Euronest members about the Georgian parliament moving to Kutaisi, and explained that the new constitution increases the authority of the legislative body in the country.



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