Tbilisi will host the 25th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for the first time on July 1-5 – probably the largest international event to be held in Georgia this year, which also appears to be turning into yet another political battlefield between Georgia’s ruling GDDG and opposition UNM parties.
A Georgian lawmaker from the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party, Gigi (George) Tsereteli, who currently serves his second term as OSCE PA’s vice-president, is one of the candidates of the Assembly presidency, opposed by the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG).
Two other candidates for the presidency are French MP Alain Neri and Austrian MP from the Social Democratic Party Christine Muttonen.
GDDG party supports the latter candidate, citing that she is from GDDG’s sister party.
Election of the president will be held on the last day of the annual session on July 5.
The session is the largest annual gathering of the Assembly, which is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE with over 320 lawmakers from the organization’s 57 participating states.
Unlike GDDG, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has backed MP Tsereteli’s bid for OSCE PA presidency.
“This is an important political and international event, which will be held for the first time in Georgia and where new president of the Assembly will be elected,” Georgian President’s spokesperson, Eka Mishveladze, told journalists on June 28. “Georgia has this unique chance for a Georgian lawmaker to be elected on the post. It will increase possibility for Georgia-related issues to be better represented at this important international organization.”
“Therefore, the Georgian President has publicly endorsed MP Gigi Tsereteli’s candidacy for the OSCE PA presidency and he calls on the Georgian delegates to do the same regardless of their party affiliation,” the Georgian President’s spokesperson said.
A senior lawmaker from GDDG party, Gia Volski, says that it would “not be the right position” to support MP Tsereteli’s bid just because he is from Georgia.
“But if Tsereteli declares that he is a neutral person and that he does not view Georgia’s interests the same way as his UNM party does, then I will probably think about” supporting him, MP Volski told Civil.ge on June 29.
MP Volski is one of the five members of Georgian delegation in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly; four others are: GDDG MP Tedo Japaridze; UNM lawmakers Gigi Tsereteli and Akaki Minashvili, as well as Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili of the Republican Party, who has not yet spoken publicly about his position over Tsereteli’s candidacy.
MP Volski also said that the European People’s Party (EPP) supports Tsereteli’s candidacy not because he’s from Georgia, but because UNM is EPP’s partner party and for the same reason GDDG will support a candidate backed by its partner political family. “Nationality of a candidate does not matter here… the Georgian Dream-[Democratic Georgia] party belongs to the Socialists group,” he said.
MP Tsereteli told journalists on June 29 that the issue should not have become a source of political confrontation.
He criticized the Georgian ruling party’s stance as “incompetent, politically immature, and harmful.”
“I think it is irrelevant to speak about political affiliation. What should matter is not to lose this chance for Georgia to be better represented and to hold more levers in [in this organization],” he said.
MP Tsereteli said that the Georgian President’s endorsement of his candidacy was an appropriate move, amounting to “supporting Georgia.”
He said that the Georgian government should have also followed the suit, instead of “casting shadow over the country.”