IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Georgian National Platform letter to Commissioner Stefan Fule
To: European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle
Cc: Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark
Cc: Minister for European Affairs , Nicolai Wammen, Denmark
March 12, 2012, Tbilisi, Georgia
Dear Commissioner Füle,
We would like to share with You our concerns regarding the amendments of the election legislation, particularly to the Organic Law of Georgia on "Political Unions of Citizens" approved by the Parliament of Georgia in December, 2011. In broad consensus, more than 200 Georgian civil society activists, non-governmental organizations and media representatives as well as 1500 individuals signed a Petition in February 2012 demanding anew amendments to the election legislation inasmuch as current regulations deteriorate the election enviornment, limit civic activity, property rights, freedom of expression and political acivity, while can impose severe and unjustified responsibilities on voters, resulting in a chilling effect on freedom of speech and civic engagement. The statement of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (February 13, 2012) echoes these concerns emphasizing, inter alia, that the new election legislation creates „unequal political playing field”.
The campaign under the title „This Affects You Too“ has been initiated countrywide by civil actors and media with the aim to reach out wider public and mobilize support for free and fair election environment in compliance with Georgia’s international committments, including those under the EU-Georgia ENP Action Plan and Eastern Partnership framework.
In order to avoid the abovementioned risks for democratic development in light of pending elections and meanwhile, ensure accountable and transparent party finance system, the legislative proposal - a package of draft laws prepared by civil society organisations has been submitted to the Parliament on February 17, 2012. The proposal has been presented to foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations, government officials, parliamentary and non-parliamentary political parties, as well as NGO and media representatives on March 2, 2012.
The Parliament of Georgia has recently stepped in consultations with the civil society pledging to consider some provisions of the legislative proposal and subsequent amendemnets to the Law. 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.
Furthermore, the Georgian civil society organizations address the Government of Georgia and the OSCE/ODIHR with a request to support the invitation of the ODIHR long term election observation mission to Georgia that could largely contribute to genuinely democratic pre-election environment. We take a notice of the President Saakashvili’s recent address to the Parliament of Georgia (February 28, 2012) reiterating Georgia’s commitment to hold free, trasparent and democratic elections in 2012 and inviting the „local and international observers to maximally engage in monitoring process.“ Hence, we appeal to You to support the initiative of civil society actors and encourage the Government of Georgia to issue the respective invitation to the OSCE/ODIHR.
We would like to once again thank you for Your efforts to support the free and fair elections in Georgia and express our hope that the issue remains a priority on EU-Georgia communication agenda.
(51 signatory member organizations)