EU, UNDP heads in Georgia evaluate election environment ahead of presidential runoff

EU ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell says that the Georgian election campaign has been accompanied by aggression.  Photo: EU in Georgia press office., 13 Nov 2018 - 12:13, Tbilisi,Georgia

Heads of the EU and UNDP representations in Georgia have evaluated the election environment ahead of the presidential runoff and mentioned high competition, a democratic election process but that the election campaign period has included aggression.

EU ambassador in Georgia Carl Hartzell says that it is “regrettable” that the election campaign includes aggression, “but it is the choice of presidential candidates.”

He says that the use of hate speech and threatening of candidates are unacceptable and that law enforcement agencies should investigate such incidents in a timely manner.

UNDP head in Georgia Louisa Vinton has stated that the election process in Georgia is underway in a democratic environment and the competition is high between presidential candidates.

UNDP head in Georgia Louisa Vinton (in the middle) spoke about a competitive election environment in Georgia. Photo: UNDP Georgia. 

She stated that year on year the Georgian media has provided better broadcasting of election issues and expressed hope that before the runoff, media outlets will be more focused on analytical shows with more detailed information regarding the election programmes of the candidates.

Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze shared the EU ambassador’s view concerning the aggression in the election process and stated that the only candidate who has refrained from making aggressive statements is the ruling party-endorsed presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili.

He said that the United National Movement opposition has always been engaged in making aggressive and negative statements.

However, they will never achieve this goal,” Kobakhidze said.

Kobakhidze also spoke about the importance of quickly investigating incidents of aggression and threats towards presidential candidates and others.

Zurabishvili stated yesterday that she and her family members have been threatened by former soldiers affiliated with the United National Movement.

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria also said that she has become the subject of attack for her statements.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia is investigating the cases.

The first round of elections was held on 28 October and as none of the presidential candidates were able to receive at least 51 per cent of votes, the runoff will take place no later than 2 December.

The two candidates who will run in the second round are Salome Zurabishvili and the united opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze.