TBILISI, DFWatch – Eastern Partnership Georgia appeals to the EU for help in the case of party financing rules.

Authorities in Georgia enforced new tough restrictions on party financing last December, and made the rules apply also to organizations and individuals ‘indirectly’ connected to parties, which sparked a protest campaign.

The Eastern Partnership is itself a project financed and controlled by the EU, but run by groups called non-governmental organizations, or NGOs.

In a letter to EU’s commissioner for enlargement Štefan Füle, Eastern Partnership asks for support for an initiative to call on the Georgian government to invite a OSCE/ODIHR long-term mission of observers to come to Georgia sooner than planned.

“Current regulations deteriorate the election environment, limit civic activity, property rights, freedom of expression and political activity, while can impose severe and unjustified responsibilities on voters, resulting in a chilling effect on freedom of speech and civic engagement,” says the letter, which is signed by 51 organizations which are member of the umbrella group Eastern Partnership Georgia.

The Eastern Partnership is an EU initiative intended to compliment the Northern Dimension and the Union for the Mediterranean to provide a forum for discussing visa arrangements, free trade and strategic partnership with the EU. It is controlled directly by the EU Commission and involves NGOs in implementing these aims.

“As the process is ongoing, we call upon the EU to render special attention to the new legislation, including the assessment and provision of relevant recommendations over the amendments of December 2011, in its official communication with the Government of Georgia,” the letter says.