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The News in Brief

Tuesday, May 3
Bill Allowing PM to Run for MP Without Quitting Cabinet Post Passed in First Reading

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted with 77 votes to 21 with first hearing a legislative amendment that would allow the Prime Minister to run for a seat in the Parliament in upcoming elections without quitting the cabinet post.

The amendment to the election code is designed to allow PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili to lead the party list of MP candidates of Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) ruling party; Kvirikashvili is set to become GDDG’s chairman at the party congress planned for May 14.

Under existing legislation, the PM and other members of the cabinet have to resign their posts to run for Parliament.

The bill, sponsored by lawmakers from the GDDG, Conservative and Republican parties, envisages excluding the PM from the list of those office holders, who are required to resign the day after being registered as an MP candidate. The bill must be passed with two more hearings by the Parliament.

Opposition lawmakers have criticized the proposed bill as Georgian Dream coalition’s attempt to tailor legislation to its political goals.

An explanatory note attached to the proposed bill says that it would not contribute to “stability” if the PM, and consequently the entire cabinet, will have to be replaced shortly before the elections if the head of the government decides to run for Parliament.

According to existing legislation, along with the PM and other cabinet members, the list of officials required to step down in case of running for parliament includes: the President and his advisors; cabinet members of autonomous republics; members of the board of central bank; head of the state audit agency and his deputies; provincial governors and their deputies; chairpersons of local councils (Sakrebulo); heads (gamgebeli) of local municipalities, mayors; judges; member of the High Council of Justice; Public Defender and his deputies; military and police officers, as well as officers serving in the State Security Service, Intelligence Service and Special State Protection Service; prosecutors and their deputies, assistants and investigators; head and deputies of public service bureau; members of Georgian National Communications Commission and Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission. The proposed bill envisages excluding only the PM from this list.

Minister Examines Gudauri Resort Development Plan

Vice Prime Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili attended a presentation of the Gudauri Resort Development Plan. The mega-project was prepared by a leading Canadian company, Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners.

The project was elaborated within the framework of the agreement signed by the Mountain Resorts Development Company of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and Ecosign in October 2015. The Project was developed by Canadian experts on the basis of a professional study and analysis of the resort.

According to Vice Prime Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili, consistent with the Development Plan, the lengths of the ski tracks will be tripled while the number of beds will go up to 16,000. As the Minister noted, these changes will help Gudauri to become an international mountain resort and increase the investment attractiveness of the resort as well as to create a number of new jobs.

The Gudauri Resort Development Plan is a fundamental document in terms of the proper planning and development of the resort. The masterplan will identify the needs to be extended in terms of the development of the resort, including the development of the several crucial components such as the layout and construction of cable cars, preparation of the ski tracks, defining the effective number of essential equipment, artificial snow-making system installation, the effective layout of parking lot, entertainment and catering facilities, creation of recreational facilities and other related activities, optimal positioning of skiers, the drainage system construction plan, etc.

The document includes the development of the concept of Gudauri as a four seasons resort. For this purpose, in addition to the optimal locations determination, several winter and summer activities and facilities were designed to be compatible with the resort development ideas.

It is of outmost importance that the studying process, the designing and the development of the concept of the northern extension (Kobi) zone of the resort will help to create appropriate infrastructure for a new resort.

The elaboration of the plan is important for the efficient and optimal development of the county's tourism infrastructure that will contribute to the development and promotion of both the resort and the region.
(Ministry of Economy)

Election of Technical University rector for the third term contradicts Georgian Law

Lecturers at the Georgian Technical University have gone on a hunger strike protesting the election of Archil Prangishvili as university rector for a third term. Transparency International Georgia believes that the lecturers’ protest is legally justified.

In January 2016, Archil Prangishvili was elected as rector of the Technical University for the third time. In 2008-2009 he served as the acting rector, after which he was elected as the rector three times in a row in 2009, 2012 and 2016.

The Minister of Education stated that considering multiple changes to the education legislation and legal status of the university over the past several years the ministry’s probe into the elections did not find any violations of the law.

The legal status of the university did change several times in recent years. According to a Government resolution issued in 2011 [1], the legal entity of public law Georgian Technical University was reorganized into a non-profit (non-commercial) legal entity. After this, another Government resolution issued in 2013[2] reversed the change. However, no changes were made to the Law on Higher Education, which prohibits heads (rectors) of state higher education institutions from being elected for a third term.

Georgian Technical University is, in fact, a state university. Even in the period from 2011 until 2013, when the university held the legal status of non-profit (non-commercial) legal entity, it was still registered as being founded by the Government of Georgia. Therefore, Archil Prangishvili’s election as a rector of a state university for the third term violates the Law on Higher Education. In other words, Prangishvili’s activities as rector are illegitimate.

The legal provision prohibiting the election of a rector for more than two terms existed during all three elections won by Prangishvili. The same provision was also present in the Technical University Statute. Therefore, the argument presented by the Technical University and the Ministry of Education that the change in legal status had activated new election regulations is groundless. The presented argument would suggest that a future change in legal status would enable Archil Prangishvili to serve another two terms as a university rector.

The reasoning behind the legal limit of two terms for a university rector is to prevent the same person from running a university indefinitely, ensure its autonomy and participation of students and the academic staff in the decision-making process. This reasoning remains unchanged regardless of the legal status of a university. Therefore, justifying Archil Prangisvili’s third term with the change in university legal status contradicts the Law on Higher Education.

The legality of the elections in the Technical University is currently being discussed by Tbilisi City Court. Until the court makes its final decision, we call on the Ministry of Education to:

Thoroughly examine the legality of the election of the Technical University rector for the third consecutive term.

Act as a mediator of negotiations between the academic staff and university administration for the purpose of diffusing tensions.