07TBILISI1477, OSCE AMBASSADORS GROUP UPBEAT ON ELECTION REFORMS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1477 2007-06-19 13:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9491
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1477/01 1701303
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191303Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6723
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001477 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2017 
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: OSCE AMBASSADORS GROUP UPBEAT ON ELECTION REFORMS 
 
REF: TBILISI 1036 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (B) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: During a June 18 meeting, the OSCE 
Ambassadors Group on Elections offered a glowing report on 
GOG efforts to implement suggestions delivered to Speaker 
Burjanadze and MP Giga Bokeria on May 2 (reftel).  Council of 
Europe (COE) Ambassador Igor Gaon said there has been "good 
progress" in clarifying the voters' list, building the 
capacity of election administration at all levels, amending 
election legislation, ensuring elections are set well in 
advance, and reaching out to ethnic minorities.  He said the 
amended election law will be forwarded to the COE's Venice 
Commission for review in July.  The Ambassadors agreed to 
request a meeting with President Saakashvili in September -- 
once the Venice Commission had completed its review -- to 
discuss what remains to be done to ensure the elections are 
free, fair, and inclusive.  In the meantime, the group agreed 
to continue working with the CEC and to reach out to the 
Parliamentary working group on elections, a body comprised of 
ruling party and opposition MPs as well as NGOs, with an eye 
toward resolving outstanding election issues before January 
2008.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
A Message Heard Loud And Clear 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (C) During a June 18 meeting, the OSCE Ambassadors Group 
on Elections offered a glowing report on GOG efforts to meet 
the suggestions delivered to Speaker Burjanadze and MP Giga 
Bokeria on May 2 (reftel).  Citing increased motivation and a 
new willingness to cooperate at the CEC, Council of Europe 
(COE) Ambassador Igor Gaon said that the Group's message had 
clearly been heard.  A European advisor managing an 
assistance project at the CEC agreed, adding that the CEC 
Chair and his staff have begun to show "real energy" in 
implementing the groups suggested reforms. 
 
----------------------- 
Progress on Every Point 
----------------------- 
 
3. (C) Gaon said the CEC would undertake a nation-wide 
door-to-door campaign, with the participation of opposition 
parties, to clarify the voters' list in September.  He added 
that this was a joint effort supported by the COE and GOG and 
that the final results would be audited by a local NGO, the 
International Society for Free Elections and Democracy 
(ISFED), in cooperation with the CEC.  On election 
administration, Gaon praised increased cooperation by the CEC 
with NGOs and opposition groups on an Action Plan that would 
be completed by July. 
 
4. (C) Gaon also cited progress on amendments to election 
legislation, and was hopeful that the Parliament will lower 
the threshold for garnering party-list representation in the 
legislature from 7% to 5% of the national vote.  he was also 
optimistic that the Parliament would move the announcement of 
the date for elections from 60 days to 90 days before 
election day.  He added that all changes to the election 
legislation must be completed by January 2008.  He said the 
revised voter's list and other election-related documents 
will be distributed by the CEC in Russian, Armenian, and 
Azeri to ensure that ethnic minorities are properly informed 
of developments. 
 
---------- 
Next Steps 
---------- 
 
5. (C) Gaon said the Parliament was working at full-speed to 
finish amendments to the election legislation which they will 
submit to the COE's Venice Commission for formal review.  The 
Commission will complete their review and forward any 
proposed changes to the GOG in September.  The Ambassadors 
agreed to wait to request a meeting with President 
Saakashvili until the Venice Commission's findings have been 
published in September, in order to discuss what remains to 
be done to ensure free, fair, and inclusive elections. 
 
6. (C) In the meantime, the group agreed to continue working 
with the CEC to improve their implementation of reforms, 
public outreach strategy, and to ensure they remain on 
schedule.  Gaon added that the group needs to work with the 
CEC Chair, Guram Chalagashvili, to ensure he "remains 
transparent."  Gaon added humorously that the CEC had just 
addressed a serious conflict of interest concern by replacing 
Chalagashvili's mother-in-law as CEC finance manager with 
someone who is not a family relation, a move that not only 
pleased observers, but "also made Guram very happy!"  The 
group also agreed to reach out to the Parliamentary Working 
 
TBILISI 00001477  002 OF 002 
 
 
Group on Elections -- a body comprised of ruling party and 
opposition MPs as well as NGOs -- with an eye toward 
resolving outstanding election issues before January 2008. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
7. (C) Comment: This 180 degree turn-around on the part of 
the CEC and the other efforts underway in Parliament are good 
news for Georgia's upcoming elections.
 It also offers more 
evidence that the GOG will respond quickly and convincingly 
when approached by representatives of the international 
community who share a common goal and offer specific, 
concrete recommendations.  End Comment. 
TEFFT

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