U.S. Interagency Delegation sums up visit to Georgia
U.S. Interagency Delegation led by Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas O. Melia of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor held a pressconference today summing up the delegation`s visit to Georgia.
"The message that we have conveyed privately to the various stakeholders has been identical: The United States supports the Georgian people’s aspirations for a free and fair democratic process. We do not favor any particular party or candidate, and look forward to continued close cooperation with the leaders the Georgian people choose.
"It is essential that the political environment is conducive to full participation in the campaign by all parties on equal terms. Notwithstanding a variety of shortcomings in recent months, it is clear that there is a competitive campaign underway.
"We have heard from all the political parties we have met that they have been able to travel the country, hold rallies, and get their messages out to the voters. At the same time, all parties should renounce violence and avoid provocations.
"We applaud the electoral reforms enacted late last year that expanded access of parties to the mass media during the 60 day campaign. More recently, we were encouraged to see the implementation of “Must Carry” legislation during the campaign period and we strongly support its extension through the post-election grievance process and beyond.
"We have every expectation, based on the political parties commitment to contain any violence and the government’s commitment that security forces will be scrupulously professional, that election day and its immediate aftermath will unfold peacefully. We certainly hope this will be the case. We remind all parties that after October 1, they will need to work together constructively in the new parliament to advance Georgia’s democratic and economic development, and they should conduct their campaigns in that spirit", the deputy assistant secretary said.