US, UK, Netherland Embassies praise Georgia’s local elections

Unemployment, social poverty and restoring Tbilisi’s old and damaged districts are the top three issues locals want solved by the new city Mayor. Photo by N. Alavidze., 17 Jun 2014 - 12:53, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three international Embassies based in Georgia are praising the country for hosting "successful” and "well-organised” local self-government elections on June 15. 

In a joint statement the United States Embassy, the United Kingdom Embassy and the Embassy of the Netherlands said they had jointly observed Sunday’s elections and the occasion was supported by the majority of the population.

"The strong performance by opposition parties and second round elections in several localities demonstrates the growing pluralism in Georgian democracy,” the statement read.

The group believed these elections were a "historic step in strengthening local governance”, which constituted an important development ahead of the signing of the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU) on June 27.

The three Embassies jointly observed the June 15 local elections through 95 monitors in 23 electoral districts. The group also visited more than 600 Precinct Election Commissions (PEC).

In the statement, the Embassies said their observers noted the voting environment was generally very calm and there were relatively few violations reported at the 3,600-plus polling stations.

"In the majority of electoral districts the pre-election environment was calm and only minor complaints were registered, but [we] note with concern [of] reports of campaign incidents and allegations of pressure on candidates to withdraw and of aggression toward election officials in certain specific locations,” the statement said.

The Embassies encouraged the Georgian Government to "objectively investigate” these allegations ahead of the second round of voting and to take any necessary steps to ensure Georgia’s elections meets the highest international standards.

The group also encouraged all political parties to work together to promote Georgia’s economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions and advance Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Meanwhile in response to the statement, Georgia’s State Minister of Europe and Euro Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili said it was the position of the capital cities of the US, UK and the Netherlands, that had helped Georgia to take an important and historical step and host democratic local elections.

"Despite relatively few violations, this election was a serious reflection on the fact that Georgia is composed as a consolidated democratic country. We must continue to work towards pluralism,” Petriashvili said.

He was confident after Georgia signs the AA with the EU next week, the Government would implement several steps aimed to enhance Georgia’s final goal becoming a member of the EU and NATO.