TBILISI, DFWatch – Germany wants to send in extra long-term election observers to Georgia ahead of an important parliamentary election which sees two political blocs for the first time competing against each other.
The extra observers will be working for the European Union, it emerged after talks between the German foreign minister and the opposition bloc, Georgian Dream.
In the talks with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, special attention was paid to a wave of interrogation of party activists in regions of the country far away from the capital Tbilisi, according to Irakli Alasania, one of the leaders of Georgian Dream.
Westerwelle sat down with opposition leaders and organizations after meeting with his counterpart in the Georgian government.
“The most important thing the German Foreign Minister told us is that he is personally working so that there will be an EU long-term monitoring mission of the Georgian electoral process. In addition, he remarked the importance of democratic elections being conducted in Georgia, which will be radically different from the elections conducted for the last 20 years,” Irakli Alasania said.
He noted that he and Davit Usupashvili, both members of the coalition Georgian Dream which was started by the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, informed the German Foreign Minsiter about the massive interrogations of Georgian Dream activists.
“Special attention was paid to the terror which lately takes place from government against citizens having different opinion,” Alasania says.
Guido Westerwelle visited Georgia Thursday, on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Germany.
The visit was part of a trip to the South Caucasus together with Markus Loning, the German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, and a group of German businessmen. He met the Georgian president and the foreign affairs minister, and also had meetings with the opposition and organizations.
Westerwelle’s main message during his visit was that Germany supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and the deepening of Georgia’s partnership with NATO.
He held a lecture at Tbilisi State University about the history of German and Georgian relations and other important issues for Georgia.
These were also the main topics during his meetings. According to the president’s administration, they discussed a wide range of issues, including deepening bilateral relations.
They focused on what in diplomatic lingo is called the ‘multi format’ of Georgia-German relations; and the current situation in the occupied territories of Georgia, as well as perspectives on Georgia’s integration with NATO and EU.
The German delegation rated positively the economic, social, political and institutional reforms implemented in Georgia.
A briefing was held after the meeting with the foreign minister, at which Westerwelle summed up the results of the meetings.
According to the Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, the two sides discussed all important issues; it was about Georgia’s Euro Atlantic aspirations, which Germany actively supports.
Guido Westerwelle says Germany is the first country after the U.S. which actively cooperates with Georgia in various issues.
He said that Georgia has done many things to develop its state structure and he hoped that the country will continue after the parliamentary and presidential elections. Westerwelle also said he had discussed circumstances which one should be aware of in the elections.
He adds that the decision made in Bucharest is a common goal for Germany and other NATO member countries.
Westerwelle said Georgia is making an important contribution to stabilizing the world, and that the Afghanistan mission is also a good impulse that a step forward will be achieved at the NATO summit in Chicago in May.
When it came to Russia, he said there are fundamental differences between Germany and Russia and ‘we openly say that.’
Despite this, Westerwelle hopes that the gap won’t become. For this it is important to make pragmatic steps and as one of such steps he mentioned Georgia’s decision to accept Russia as a member of the World Trade Organization.
Westerwelle said Germany supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and that it’s very important to carry out practical and humanitarian aid to people in the conflict region.
He also noted that he hopes to see constructive negotiations continuing in the Geneva talks, a regular meeting between the warring parties of 2008, and that Georgia will take into account the proposals made by Germany. Westerwelle did not say what these proposals were.
“The main principles by which the problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity should be solved are already known, but we cannot get deeper into the details right now. I want to say that we do not only support Georgia’s territorial integrity, but we also work on it,” he said.
Later on March 15, Westerwelle met opposition leaders and representatives of the civil sector. The meeting was attended by Irakli Alasania, leader of the Free Democrats, Davit Usupashvili, the Republicans leader, Magda Anikashvili, Representative of the parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats Movement. Also present were Eka Gigauri, the head of Transparency International Georgia and Tamar Chugoshvili, head of Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
After the meeting, they said the discussions were mainly about the upcoming elections and the importance of conducting them fairly.
Eka Gigauri says they raised the issue of inviting long-term international observers to Georgia to observe the election campaign.
“I personally talked about the election environment and how important it is to invite international observers several months earlier before the elections,” Gigauri explained.
“The German Foreign minister openly told the Georgian president that Germany supports inviting a long-term OSCE observation mission to Georgia, but for this it is important for to Georgian government to send an official request regarding the issue,” says Davit Usupashvili, Republican Party leader.
He says if the government refuses to make an official statement about inviting a long-term observation mission, then it will answer the question of whether government wants to conduct fair elections.
Westerwelle was also expected to be meeting with former president Eduard Shevardnadze, but no information is available about whether the meeting came about.