In view of the run-off for the Georgian presidential elections on 28 November, Joseph Daul, the President of the European People’s Party (EPP) made the following statement:

“I would like to express our strong support to Grigol Vashadze, UNM candidate for the presidential elections, experienced politician and diplomat, a trusted partner, who acts in the interests of Georgian people. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank European Georgia for keeping to the EPP agreement and supporting the united candidate from the opposition in the second round. In order to move forward and to strengthen democracy, Georgia needs to develop a strong multi-party system.

The EPP closely followed the first round of Georgia’s presidential elections. In spite of the positive indications, the first round of was unfortunately marred by violations, violence and the misuse of administrative resources.

Ahead of the second round, we are deeply concerned by the recent attacks by high-level officials on well-respected non-governmental organisations, fulfilling their duty by monitoring the election process. In addition, a number of alarming incidents have raised serious concern in the international community, undermining whether the elections can be classified as free and fair. This includes accusations of printing fake ID cards by a government agency; a debt write-off scheme which can enable vote-bribing; the lack of transparency in selecting the election date, which, by holding the vote on a weekday for the first time, makes it more difficult for the diaspora to vote.

On Wednesday, the Georgian people must be free to cast their ballots peacefully. Violence, intimidation, abuse and fraud have no place in a democratic election. The second round of these elections is a test for the rule of law and democracy. The legitimacy of the vote’s outcome is at stake.

Georgia should continue along its trajectory as a success story and a role model for the region. We support the efforts of UNM, European Georgia and the members of the coalition of opposition parties “Strength in Unity” in pursuing a European path for Georgia, strong support of the rule of law, democracy and media diversity.