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EU Ambassador Issues Starkly-Worded Statement on Georgia Runoffs

EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, together with EU Heads of Mission, issued today starkly-worded statement on Georgia’s local runoffs, stressing that instead of taking meaningful steps to address the first round shortcomings, additional issues have emerged, including the misuse of administrative resources and “violent rhetoric” by Georgian political leaders.

Alluding to controversial remarks by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, the statement said “suggestions made before these elections that the central government would not cooperate with local councils, should they swing towards another majority, are of concern as they seek to restrict the electorate’s choice and to limit pluralism.”

“Following the first round, we stated that the reported malpractices must not become a norm in Georgia. We deplore that these elections have been a missed opportunity in this respect,” added the statement statement.

EU Ambassador and EU Heads of Missions called on all parties to stay engaged in the electoral process, noting that public trust in election integrity requires an inclusive and transparent recounting process and fair adjudication of complaints and appeals. They highlighted “key responsibility” the Central Election Commission and the courts have in this regard.

“We expect that genuine efforts will be made by Georgia’s leaders to build a political climate conducive to meeting the expectations of the citizens of Georgia,” the statement went on, adding that “this includes fulfilling repeated commitments on meaningful reforms, notably in the judiciary, as well as resuming the implementation of our agreed EU-Georgia agenda, based on the values of democracy, respect for human rights and upholding the rule of law.”

The statement also welcomed OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament international observation mission.

“While this mission again concluded that the elections were generally well administered and that the campaign was competitive, it also observed an escalation of negative rhetoric, persistent allegations of intimidation and pressure on voters and sharp imbalances in resources, which benefited the ruling party and tilted the playing field,” the EU Ambassador and Heads of EU Mission noted.

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