Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-16-Speech-3-437"

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". Madam President, Commissioner, congratulations, first of all, to our two rapporteurs. The report by Mrs Polfer comes just at the right time because, with the events in Georgia, we can see firsthand the difficulties of building democracy. This report is balanced, and sets out the major geostrategic challenges of the South Caucasus. It is important to remember that the neighbourhood policies commit us to supporting and accompanying these countries. We have a political and moral responsibility towards them, but they also have one towards us, particularly as regards human rights and freedom of expression, as you pointed out, Commissioner. For these three countries our support should also be more concerned with resolving the conflicts. Currently, the EU is only managing them. Without a political compromise between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, without a peace plan between Georgia on the one hand and South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other, these countries will not be able to restore relationships of trust or establish lasting stability between themselves and with their larger neighbours. As regards supporting democracy, we are doing this every day. Unfortunately, the events that shook Georgia pushed it into a political crisis that it has still not found a way out of, with the opposition taking to the streets to challenge the results of the first round of the presidential elections. Of course, by responding to the call for the President to resign, Mr Saakashvili caught the opposition unawares, leaving it very little time to organise the elections. Of course, this election campaign was not fair because two candidates were able to deploy considerably greater resources than the others. Of course, the campaign was marred by allegations and revelations of the orchestration of a post-election coup d’état by an opposition candidate, but nevertheless it should be noted that on election day – and we were there as observers – no major incidents were reported by the observers, and there had never been so many of them in such a small country to observe elections. With the international community and national and international NGOs, we were able to witness the freedom of expression of citizens generally, even if many irregularities and much intimidation were noted, though nothing systematic. In our conclusion, we stressed the obligation to continue the legal proceedings, to take all the complaints into consideration and not to consider the results definitive until all the disputes had been looked into, and dozens of polling stations were thus cancelled. Today, however, the situation has not been settled at all, and we must continue to appeal to Georgia’s leaders, on all political sides, to resume and continue the dialogue; we must appeal to the authorities to hear the opposition’s claims; and we must appeal to the opposition, which gained credibility during these elections, to assume its share of the responsibility for suggesting compromises, because Georgia really needs to get back to where it was before, the place it occupied after the Rose Revolution, that of a country that has turned the page on violence and instability. That is what Georgia’s people are demanding, and that is what they are also asking of the European Union today, and we must stick by them."@en1

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