MEP Michael Gahler calls on Georgian opposition parties “to keep their demands for fair treatment, but take up their seats.”
Georgian Public Broadcaster interviewed a German politician about Georgia’s ongoing political processes and a plan to apply for EU membership in 2024.
“Whenever there is a complaint or an argument about fair or not so fair elections, and the opposition normally feels disadvantaged. Please, take up your seats, and say it in public in the parliament, from the rostrum of the parliament, there it gets so to say into the fields, and there is the legitimate place to argue. Because, certainly if anybody, be it an Albania or somewhere else in Balkans, or Georgia, or somewhere in the Caucasus when everybody boycotts the parliament, he will still be of the opinion that at least the seats they have got officially, there must be even more legitimate, so my idea would definitely be and call on them, keep your demands for fair treatment, but take up your seats. And of course, when there is an investigation, it must be the entire electoral process, not only what was correctly counted. I am pretty sure that all the people sitting in the polling stations know how to count,” he noted.
MEP recalled his visit to Georgia in 2016 when the parliamentary elections were held. Gahler said he saw “black SUVs with some strong men sitting inside or outside near the pollings station.” He thinks “it was more something of intimidation than of fair election.”
Gahler urged the opposition to improve the system for future elections, come together, consider ODHIR or Venice Commission recommendations.
“Find something and unique not to invent the wheel. There are many things that can be reformed, and it’s not the first time. We have the same problems in all of the reform countries,” he stated.
German politician noted that “there is this wheel in Georgia that has been changed, but then in a way, certain reflects still come back.”
“It is the willingness, the political will of the stakeholders to sit together, to accept the mediation. I mean, the delegation of the European Union is doing an excellent job for quite a while, and that is why we are very upset when you got some time criticism. And I don’t care whom it comes it’s from the government side or opposition party,” he stressed.
Michael Gahler said that there are many challenges amid pandemic that must be addressed. He once again called on politicians to “come together and find solutions, and people will reward it otherwise, they will seek extremists solutions, and that is not in the interest of the people.”
“We are really doing our very best within an honest approach, within a non-partisan approach for the sake of democracy. And the Citizens party, they are the ones who are getting fed up with all political parties when they see that the political decision-makers are the ones who are dealing with themselves while there is a pandemic and the economy needs to be strengthened, there is education, health, pension, and all the things that are on the agenda in all of our countries. They must be dealt with and not the attempts of one or the other to get an advantage here or there,” he said.
As for Georgia’s plan to apply for EU membership in 2024, Gahler thinks Georgia still has a lot to do in this regard. “It’s a bumpy road. You must prove that you are fit in order to be accepted. What is currently happening is not a good signal for us to believe that you are already politically on a good track,” he noted.
“One can always apply whenever. We have Article 49 of the Treaty for every European country. If somebody thinks he is fit for that, shall he do it, but I warn of any illusions, we are watching things as they are. I would wish that we would not have that situation after the elections. I would wish there were more political culture of cooperation towards this European agenda. You need all joint forces to reach an ambitious goal. Certainly, you have to prepare yourself. You are bright, you must make yourself attractive. I would like to come into the situation when you are irresistible. Currently, I think, there would be some resistance to accept such an application when we see how you are struggling with each other. The more you work on the implementation of the Association Agreement (AA), the closer you come, and at some point, I hope, such an application will be a credible one,” he stated.