President Criticizes MFA for Declining to Streamline Emigrant Voting

The President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia for failing to facilitate the exercise of voting rights by a large number of Georgian emigrants. The President delivered her critical remarks in the beginning of the meeting with the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the representatives of the Public Defender’s Office, civil society organizations and the EU Delegation to Georgia.

Civil society organizations and the opposition have been calling on the Georgian authorities to streamline the voting rights for emigrants by opening more polling stations abroad. According to Eastern European Center for Multiparty Democracy – EECMD, over 860 thousand Georgians live outside the country, while only twelve thousand were able to vote in the last parliamentary elections. 

President Zurabishvili emphasized her online meetings with the Georgian diaspora aimed at encouraging them to vote, adding that “the first very important shortcoming is that the Foreign Ministry does not participate in these meetings, refuses [to participate], shrugs off the responsibility, which is quite incomprehensible, because this whole process is very much related to the work of the Foreign Ministry.”

In her remarks, the President underscored the vital importance of the collaboration between the Central Election Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lamenting the current state of exchanging blame, which she likened to “ping pong”.

The President of Georgia also noted the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry to launch the registration campaign, including on the websites of Georgia’s diplomatic missions, which, according to President Zurabishvili, has not yet started. “This is important to be done now, and not in 4-5 months.”

President Salome Zurabishvili emphasized the importance of cooperation with partner countries where Georgians live. According to her, the Ambassadors of Georgia’s partner countries expressed their readiness to provide support in this regard, however, “as far as I know, and if it is not so, I am ready to hear the correction – there has been no conversation from our Foreign Ministry with the Ambassadors present here to advance this issue and find ways”. In this context, she mentioned the relevant experience of Moldova.

Speaking about the availability of necessary resources, the President noted that there are “many solutions” to the challenges. She noted that it is a law that requires to ensure that emigrants can vote, and its important to ensure that there is no discrimination against Georgian citizens abroad.

Meanwhile, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze reacted to the President’s remarks, saying that she has no moral right to talk about the elections and meet with the CEC Chairman, accusing the President of trying to undermine the elections.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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