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Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform Appeal Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy

13.03.2012

Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform Appeals to the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark and Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, Denmark

March 12, 2012
Tbilisi, Georgia

Dear Commissioner Füle,
We appreciate the willingness and remarkable efforts undertaken by the European Union aimed at supporting Georgia to hold democratic elections in pending period. We take a notice of the EU Foreign Affairs Council recent conclusions (February 27, 2012) which underline the “utmost importance of ensuring that the Parliamentary elections in 2012 and the Presidential elections in 2013 meet internationally recognized democratic standards” and pledge to “closely monitor developments in Georgia leading up to the elections.”

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. 

Sincerely,
Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform
(51 signatory member organizations)

1. Transparency International Georgia (TI)
2. Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA)
3. Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
4. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
5. The Center for Strategic Research and Development
6. International Center for Civic Culture
7. Liberal Academy Tbilisi
8. Caucasus Institute for Economic and Social Research
9. Economic Policy Research Center
10. Institute for Policy Studies
11. Association “Green Alternative”
12. International Fund of Sustainable Development
13. “Healthy World"
14. Union "Ecotech"
15. Caucasus Environmental NGO network (CENN)
16. Energy Efficiency Centre 
17. Association of Business Consulting Organizations "ABCO Georgia"
18. Foundation for Media Development
19. Levan Mikeladze Foundation
20. Center for Environmental Law
21. Association "Woman and Business"
22. Human Rights Centre
23. Student Youth Council Guria
24. Youth Alternative
25. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)
26. Coalition for IDP rights
27. Free Development and Rights Protection Association
28. Georgian Trade Union Confederation
29. Caucasian House Georgia
30. United Public Movement "Multinational Georgia"
31. International Center on Conflict and Negotiation
32. Association DEA for Disabled Women and Mothers of Disabled Children
33. Civic Development Institute
34. Studio "Re"
35. Inclusive Foundation   (LGBT Georgia)
36. Association European Studies for the Innovative Development of Georgia
37. Free Media Studio
38. Youth Center - Georgia
39. Gori Information Center
40. Union "Article 42 of the Constitution"
41. European Integration Forum
42. Georgian regional Broadcaster Association
43. Association “Justice and Freedom”
44. European Youth Parliament - Georgia
45. Local Democracy Agency
46. Association "Green Wave”
47. Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Georgian National Committee
48. Georgian Civil Society Association
49. Georgian – Armenians Union  “Nor Serundi”
50. International Organization of Human Rights protection and Prisoners social welfare
51. Caucasian University Women

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