European Council President Herman Van Rompoy calls for a fair election environment in Georgia. Parliamentary elections are expected in October. (IPN.)

TBILISI, DFWatch –European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says the upcoming elections will be a crucial indicator of the progress Georgia has made on its path to reform.

He thereby added his voice to many figures in the international community who continue calling for Georgia to hold democratic elections in the fall 2012 and provide for equal conditions during the election campaign.

“I encourage all political actors in Georgia to support a tolerant political culture and issue-based debates. Fair competition and general participation in the elections will be fundamental for ensuring legitimacy,” Herman Van Rompuy said after a joint press conference with President Mikheil Saakashvili.

“I made the same point to the opposition, when I met them earlier today. Building democracy needs responsible actors across the political divide,” Van Rompuy said.

After meeting with President Saakashvili yesterday in Tbilisi, the Belgian politician said Georgia achieved has progress on the way of modernization and reforms and this has made the country more business and investment friendly.

“Georgia serves as an example for many in the region and elsewhere,” he said.

The European Council president noted progress in negotiations on a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement and visa liberalization.

Speaking about the conflict regions, he said he shares an interest in resolving the conflicts regarding the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“I can assure you that the Union will remain engaged in a central role in the Geneva international discussions and also in EU monitoring missions,” he said.

“I would however also like to emphasize that Georgia and Russia need to find ways to normalize relations and one important step could be for all the parties of the conflict to agree on a non-use of force commitment,” he said. Georgia has so far refused to make a non-use of force commitment.

The Georgian president once again promised to hold democratic elections in fall

«Our election process must be transparent, open, free and clean of all kinds of manipulations – bribery, money, especially the influence of money brought from abroad,” he said.