Georgia’s ruling GDDG party said that election of Georgian MP Gigi Tsereteli of the opposition UNM party as president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly could affect negatively on the Assembly’s role as an observer in Georgia’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
25th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which opened in Tbilisi on July 1, will be concluded with an election of the Assembly President on July 5.
MP Gigi (George) Tsereteli, who is one of the eight vice-presidents of the OSCE PA, is a candidate for the Assembly presidency along with an Austrian MP from the Social Democratic Party, Christine Muttonen. GDDG members of the Georgian delegation support Muttonen, citing GDDG’s affiliation with the Social Democratic political family.
In a written statement on July 3, GDDG also said that it believes there might be a “conflict of interests” if Tsereteli is elected for OSCE PA presidency.
“OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will represent one of the main observer missions in the October 8, 2016 parliamentary elections, while Gigi Tsereteli represents a participating party in these elections. A perception may arise that in case of his election as the president of OSCE PA, he will have a possibility to somehow influence [OSCE PA’s] assessment of elections. We believe that there is a conflict of interests,” the Georgian ruling party said.
Accusing UNM leaders of having an intention to come into power through “revolutionary scenario” – a reference to remarks made by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili last year, GDDG claimed that the opposition party’s “goal is to de-legitimize 2016 parliamentary elections through use of illegal and violent means.”
“Election of a candidate from UNM party as the president of OSCE PA may cast shadow on objective perception of election assessment made by the OSCE’s observation mission,” GDDG said, adding that UNM “is burdened by its track record of authoritarian rule” when the party was in power , which is “incompatible with OSCE’s standards and values.”
It also said that Tsereteli’s election as OSCE PA President will cause “questions in the Georgian public” and called on the Assembly to “take into consideration these circumstances when taking decision.”
MP Tsereteli dismissed GDDG’s arguments and allegations as “shameful” campaign against him, UNM and the European People’s Party (EPP) to which UNM is a partner party. “I do not know why they [GDDG] are so afraid of me becoming the president of the Assembly,” MP Tsereteli said.
A need assessment mission from OSCE’s democracy and rights arm ODIHR has recommended OSCE participating states to send 350 short-term observers to monitor election day on October 8 in Georgia.
Along with 290 observers from OSCE/ODIHR, 53 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA were monitoring Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections.