European Liberals voice concerns over democratic practices in Georgia
"Economic growth is only sustainable in the long run when built upon a strong democracy and the rule of law", said Lousewies van Der Laan, European Liberal Democrat (ELDR Party) Vice-president, during her visit to Georgia: "We strongly support the integration of Georgia into European and transatlantic cooperation and security structures and therefore expect the government to abide by European standards in building its democracy and society. We are deeply concerned by recent developments, including arbitrary arrests and detention without recourse to a lawyer, as reported by international human rights organizations. We call on all European governments, parliaments and politicians, notably those of the EPP, which is allied to this government, to hold the Georgian government to account."
Amnesty International reported that questioning of supporters of the main opposition block “Georgian Dream” (including ELDR member “The Republican Party”) was accompanied by violation of legal safeguards and the intimidation including invasive body searches.
Liberal International recently adopted a resolution demanding that there is a free, fair and competitive political environment in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2012. This resolution was adopted following increasing concerns over the Georgian government’s tightening of political party finance regulation that it used to harass and interrogate opposition sympathizers. International observation missions are encouraged to post long-term observers in the country as soon as possible to monitor developments, notably with regard to media bias and possible voters intimidation.
During the visit meetings were held with the leadership of ELDR member party Republican Party as well as the Party Our Georgia-Free Democrats. ELDR Vice President met also with Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the main opposition alliance “Georgian Dream”. Other meetings included government representatives as well as civil society activists.
The visit followed the annual ELDR Council meeting held on 11/12 May in Yerevan, Armenia.