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Tbilisi. A group of heads of diplomatic missions, accredited in Georgia, called on parties to make arrangement on rules of conducts before the parliamentary elections, scheduled for October 1, having supported principles, that had been initiated earlier in the framework of the campaign "This Affects You too", the UN Association portal civil.ge reports.
The foreign ambassadors state that they support Georgia's democratic development, namely, fundamental principles of free and fair elections, provision of equal possibilities for all participants, equal access to the Mass Media and the rule of law.
The Ambassadorial Working Group (AWG), which mainly brings together diplomats from OSCE participating states and usually gathers on election-related issues, said in a statement on August 17, that it "strongly supports Georgia's democratic development, and in particular the fundamental principles of free and fair elections, a level playing field for all participants, equal access to media, and respect for the rule of law."
"In this context, the AWG urges all political parties and authorities at all levels to adhere to the 17 point code of conduct proposed by the campaign 'This Affect You Too', and to respect both the election results validated by the Central Election Commission, and a process assessed by independent international observer organizations, in the first instance the OSCE/ODIHR, as having met international standards and norms," the statement reads.
"The AWG also underlines the important role played by civil society organizations (CSOs), and reminds all parties that CSOs and independent observer organizations should be allowed to operate without any undue pressure or interference," it said. "The AWG urges all political parties to adhere to the abovementioned proposals in the interest of advancing Georgia's democratic development by ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections."
In July This Affects You Too, a collation of number of local civil society and media organizations, offered political parties to agree on set of principles to secure peaceful and fair electoral process ahead of the October parliamentary elections and tabled 17-point Code of Conduct, which also involves provisions addressed to the executive authorities.
On August 17 This Affects You Too released a modified text of its proposals, called Agreement Between the Political Parties, which tries to accommodate both sides' interests over the issue which was the major source of controversy - political parties' response to election results.
The text, which is now made up of 18 points after incorporating proposals from the ruling party-offered declaration, including on non-use of hate speech, also includes in last paragraph following clause: "We declare publicly, that we will recognize results of elections, held under the abovementioned terms, [recognize election results] summarized in line with legal procedures and deemed legitimate by observer organizations with credible reputation."
This Affects You Too said that the proposed text might be further modified in the process of work with the political parties, "but it is important to immediately launch the process for reaching the final agreement."
The Ambassadorial Working Group welcomed "the improved access to a diversity of media sources" after "must carry rules" went into effect, but it also noted that "given the fact that some areas in Georgia have little access to cable television, the AWG encourages consideration of ways to further support wider access to free media beyond areas covered by cable television, especially in the regions of Georgia."
Among these principles are inadmissibility of encouraging activists for "aggressive and distractive actions"; informing relevant state agency in advance about planned campaign events; inadmissibility of attempts to discredit and to meddle in the work of "unbiased observer organizations"; not to engage in vote-buying and to protect related legislative norms; not to misuse administrative resources, as well misuse of budgetary resources including through use of personnel employed in the state agencies; promote political culture, including through encouraging issue-based campaigning; not to encourage violence on the election day, including through mobilization of supporters, which may potentially lead to disorders and destabilization on the voting day; provide equal conditions for the work of journalists during campaign events and not to allow pressure on and hindering work of media representatives; not to misuse media outlets for campaign purposes or for misinforming public; to promote "defusing tensions" between representatives of various media outlets.
According to the declaration, the executive authorities declaration should including following principles: a commitment to act solely in line with laws and in full compliance of a principle of political neutrality; equal and fair treatment of all political entities; inadmissibility of selective application of justice and discriminating approach; implementing of duties by the State Audit Service in manner that will not cause arbitrary restriction of political parties' finances; focusing more on prevention of offenses rather than punishment; facilitation by the State Audit Service observance of law by the political parties including through having consultations in advance, especially in matters related to donations; inadmissibility of attempting to hinder journalistic work and providing equal conditions for the work of all journalists; provide with all the available means public's access to diverse sources of information, which also involves unrestricted access to various television channels before and after elections.
Formulation of the point, according to which the parties, that have signed the declaration, must undertake a commitment "to recognize results of the elections, summed up by the Central Election Commission and recognized as legitimate by observer organizations with reliable reputation", caused disputes in party circles. Last week that point was changed as follows: "we state publicly that we recognize results of the elections, summed up, taking into consideration the above listed conditions and procedures, stipulated by the law and recognized by legitimate international organizations with reliable reputation". Besides, a point, concerning commitments not to use a language of hatred was added into the document.