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Christian Democrats seek to divide Ministry of Internal Affairs

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, July 7
Parliamentary opposition members have come up with an initiative to divide the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia into two separate entities, the Security Office and the Interior Ministry. Speaking at a special press conference on Monday Christian Democrat MP Nika Laliashvili said that such a reform is necessary to “remove the political element” from the Ministry of Interior. The draft project presented by Christian Democrats envisages that the Security Service will be responsible to Parliament.

“The Interior Ministry will be fully depoliticized; the political component will be absolutely removed from it and a new office will be established, a security office, which will answer to Parliament,” Laliashvili told journalists on July 6. “Parliament will appoint the head of this office for a 5 year term and his candidacy will be agreed by all Parliamentary factions. This action will help develop democratic processes in the country, and promote the creation of a more effective system of security in the country,” Laliashvili noted.

Under the draft project the Constitution will be amended to say that merging the armed forces, state security services and police is forbidden. Parliament will also be given the right to obtain information from the heads of the state security services, which only the President and Government can do now. The heads of all the state security services will be responsible to Parliament, meaning that Parliament can impeach them, Laliashvili noted. He said this project will be presented to the Constitutional Committee of Parliament.

Another Parliamentary minority member, Jondi Baghaturia, has also said that dividing up the Interior Ministry is “an essential precondition for carrying out democratic reforms.” He said the Ministry should be split into two offices – the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Security. He said that counter-espionage activities should also be taken out of the competence of the Interior Ministry, and the patrol police should be responsible to regional and municipal governments. “The fact that this initiative has been supported and shared by other Parliamentary minority MPs should be welcomed,” Baghaturia said. He noted that in the nearest future he will prepare a draft criminal code as part of the court system reform. “Effective steps should be taken to free the court system from oppression,” Baghaturia noted.

Gia Tortladze, from the faction Strong Georgia, said “Creating separate Ministries of Interior and Security will not be the lever for isolating this Ministry from political processes.” “I am not against creating two Ministries, but I don’t think this will bring more transparency. The transparency of those Ministries depends more on political will than on their division,” Tortladze said. As for subordinating the Security Office to Parliament, Tortladze said this is “impossible”. He said the Security Office should be wholly responsible to the Security Council and the President. Tortladze noted that taking into the account the proposed duties of the Security Office it would be impossible for Parliament to supervise its activities.

Political analysts suggest that under the current regime dividing the Interior Ministry has “no sense” and will achieve “no results”. Goirgi Khutsishvili, a political commentator, told The Messenger that in a “normal state” the two institutions would be divided. “However when the country is ruled by only a few people and it is common for people with one responsibility to interfere in other areas it is absolutely pointless to divide or unite anything, as this will not change anything anyway,” Khutsishvili said.