Recently appointed OSCE PA Special Representative on South Caucasus Kari Henriksen (Norway) and Secretary General Roberto Montella have just completed a visit to Georgia, where they held a series of meetings with government authorities, leaders of political parties and representatives of the international community. The visit on 18-19 September focused on domestic and regional challenges in Georgia and the South Caucasus.
“I have decided to make my first visit in this new capacity to Georgia, as the country has been an example in the South Caucasus of actively implementing political reforms to strengthen democratic principles and the rule of law. The OSCE PA has been closely following developments in Georgia for over 20 years now, recognizing its steady engagement in pursuing efforts aimed at building a stable and sustainable democratic system”, - said Henriksen.
The visit of Special Representative Henriksen and Secretary General Montella took place while campaigning for the 2 October local elections in Georgia was ongoing. In a number of meetings held with representatives of European Georgia, United National Movement and Georgian Dream, issues such as the pre-electoral environment, the conduct of the campaign and polarized dialogue in the public sphere were raised.
“Concerning the local elections, many interlocutors noted that despite the harsh rhetoric surrounding the campaign, the overall atmosphere has remained calm, and I sincerely encourage all stakeholders to further engage constructively in the time following the elections, not just on the local, but also the national level. Most importantly, all political stakeholders must refrain from incitement or carrying out any political violence”, - Henriksen said.
Montella and Henriksen also met with the Head of the ODIHR Election Observation Mission to the local elections in Georgia, Ambassador Albert Jonsson, and Deputy Head of the Mission Gilles Saphy, who briefed them on the ongoing work of the election observation mission, which has been present in the country since the beginning of September. Both Henriksen and Montella stressed that they fully support the work of the mission and look forward to the final assessment of the elections.
“We invite all stake holders to take good note of the ODIHR’s final report and to actively engage in further implementation of the electoral recommendations of the ODIHR”, - Henriksen and Montella underlined.