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Different organizations discuss status of 7 cities

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 30
A total of 120 public, media and non-governmental organizations have addressed Speaker of Georgian Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili with the request not to abolish the self-governing status of the seven cities of Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Mtskheta and Ambrolauri.

The organizations believe that this action will be a step backwards for the country. According to them, it is unacceptable to abolish the self-governing entities, which were formed after 2014.

The organizations remind the government that the formation of an effective self-governance was one of the promises of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

“In 2013, the Government approved the "Basic Principles of Decentralization and Local Governance Development Strategy" and in 2014, Parliament adopted a "Code of Self-governance". Within the first stage of the reforms, the number of self-government cities was increased and mayors/governors were directly elected. These steps were praised by the Council of Europe and other international organizations,” the statement of the organizations reads, adding that the reduction of the self-governing cities would be a violation of the reform.

The address reads that contradictory statements have been made by the representatives of the ruling party recently.

“They say that the self-governing status will be abolished for 7 cities. This will definitely be a step backwards. We urge the Government to formulate a clear position and not make a decision that would hamper the process of development”, says the address.

The organizations believe that cities which do not have elected Mayors or Governors, and do not have their budget and income, will 'lose future perspectives'.

At present, there are twelve self-governing cities in Georgia. The ruling GD party stated earlier this month that the number of such cities would be reduced to five.

Consultations over the issue are still underway between the majority and the cabinet members.

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said the issue needs detailed discussions, and only afterwards the decision should be made.

“With regards to local government, it is very important to have a careful approach towards the issue. Detailed discussions are needed to determine the positive and negative sides of the initiative. I do not have any position over the issue yet,” he stated.

In case the change takes effect, during local elections Mayors will be only elected in Tbilisi, Batumi, Rustavi, Kutaisi and Poti.