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More Opposition talks on draft Constitution

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, September 10
Discussions on the changes to the State Constitution with the non-parliamentary opposition continued on September 9 when the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Davit Bakradze met members of the New Rights Party. “We may not reach a common position but the fact that our meeting has been held is a good precedent for expressing our readiness to talk on burning issues like the State Constitution, despite the differences in attitudes,” Bakradze said at the meeting. Stressing he didn’t have any illusion about the changes within the constitutional draft, Davit Gamkrelidze the leader of the New Rights still expressed his hopes regarding possible agreement in opinions.

“There has been a serious disagreement in the relations between the Government and the Parliament of Georgia. We suggest that the new draft Constitution weakens the parliament’s authority. If Georgia was a super presidential country, the new constitution will make it super prime ministerial one – that’s one thing we oppose in the draft along with other important details. It will be difficult for me to predict what they will decide but we really provided the side with serious objections,” Gamkrelidze told the media. The other area of concern the New Rights’ pointed out to the Parliamentary Chairman was the abolition of the Organic Law. “The Tax Code will no longer be changed with by a majority vote by Members of Parliament. Employers, investors, etc will all be defended in the country with the proposed tax environment. The rights of employers should also be secured through the fixed Labor Code,” he said explaining that all these issues including healthy cooperation with staff will ensure the prosperity of the Georgian economy.

The issues of property ownership were also discussed by the New Rights leader and the Parliamentary Chairman. Davit Gamkrelidze claimed there was “a good record” within the constitutional draft referring to this very issue, which was recently re-written differently. “The State Constitutional Commission and the Chairman of the Parliament promised to restore the initial record protecting owners’ rights by the State Constitution as fully as possible,” Gamkrelidze concluded.

The Chairman of the State Constitutional commission, Avtandil Demetrashvili spoke of the importance of the non-parliamentary oppositional parties’ engagement in discussions of the new constitution. “Rational ideas [offered by the opposition] which don’t oppose our project will be considered by the Commission. Consultations are always sensible as there will always be issues on which both sides can agree. Thus dialogues should continue [with the opposition] so that we can prove to our opponents how the abolition of the Organic Law will be beneficial for Georgian legislation and the statehood,” explained Demetrashvili.

Talking about the importance of the debates on the State Constitution Mamuka Katsitadze, member of the New Rights said the party had taken the responsibility to become engaged in the process and express their concern about the changes to the State Constitution. Encouraging parties isolated from the discussions, Katsitadze offered to present alternative ways of why they had avoided the debates.

The Industrial Party was also in the list of participants for discussions about the new constitution with the Parliamentary Chairman and the State Constitutional Commission. Tkemaladze wondered to whom the Government and the Prime Minister will be responsible according to the new legislation. “I think that the Government of Georgia should be responsible to the Parliament to keep balance between the authorities. It is crucial that the Government expresses its trust in the Parliament through the new draft constitution but the PM is entitled to appoint or remove ministers without consulting Parliament. These are somehow controversial facts creating misbalance...we have better talk about the various issues and emphasise what we want from our constitution, our Government to be like; we have to share our positions in spite of scolding and talking nonsense,” Tkemaladze told the media.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger that he didn’t understand the “short meetings” between the sides with completely different attitudes over the issue. “When one side opposes the “super prime ministerial model” it means that the negotiations must start from the very beginning. The principal remarks made by the opposition were said not to be considered by the Commission but the other small remarks will have no great importance for the draft. What’s more the opposition seems to be in a critical situation because the discussions on issue are about to end thus the remarks made by the interested sides can’t be considered properly due to a lack of time. I think that the presidential model which is more familiar to our statehood should have been improved rather that creating an absolutely new model. No one was talking about fundamental changes to the Constitution, which will now unfortunately be followed by mistakes as usual,” Sakvarelidze told us.

The Chairman of Parliament of Georgia and the state Constitutional Commission still welcome the non-government opposition engagement in discussions around the new draft constitution which will be moved to the Parliament of Georgia for further discussion next week.