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Much ado about nothing

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 21
Currently Georgia is facing many serious problems, internal confrontation, the world economic crisis and its influence on the domestic economy, the results of the Russian military aggression and many others. Nevertheless Georgians manage to artificially invent new problems and discuss them as if they are supposed to be taken seriously.

Moving Parliament to Kutaisi, the second largest city of Georgia, has been suggested. Moving state structures out of the capital into different regions was initially President Saakashvili’s idea. He says Kutaisi is the second capital, and several state bodies were once slated to move to Kutaisi. The Chamber of Control, the Road Department and the State Regulatory Commission were supposed to move there, but so far only the State Regulatory Commission has, the rest having remained in Tbilisi for different reasons.

The Constitutional Court has been moved to Batumi and is functioning quietly. The media hardly mentions it and few people know what work it is actually doing over there on the Black Sea coast. When it was still in Tbilisi however different protest actions were held in front of it making various demands, some naive, some more serious, and people knew that this body existed. Some people might like to see people protesting outside the Constitutional Court all the time and some not, but whichever way you prefer the fact is that the Court is no longer a focus of street protests as it was in Tbilisi.

The idea of moving Parliament to Kutaisi was first presented by Kutaisi majoritarian MP Akaki Bobokhidze on July 17. He said that just about a month ago Kutaisi writers, actors and academics had submitted this initiative to him with 3,000 signatures and asked him to lobby for it. Bobokhidze wrapped the initiative in very patriotic rhetoric: “This is the only chance that Kutaisi and the whole of Western Georgia has to survive. If it is not done the regions will empty and everything will be concentrated in Tbilisi,” states Bobokhidze.

Some MPs, who received this information from journalists, consider the scheme a joke. Some others have refrained from comment, but some have supported of the idea. Vice Speaker Gigi Tsereteli considers that some part of Parliament could be moved to Kutaisi and it would be appropriate to hold bureau sessions in that city. However he thinks that most Parliamentary activities should be conducted in Tbilisi. Majority MP Shota Malashkhia gave additional spin to the fantasy by suggesting that Parliament should be moved to Sokhumi. We should add the Ministry of Defence to Tskhinvali. Why not?

The Parliamentary opposition is very sceptical. Christian Democrat leader Giorgi Targamadze called the idea utopian and suggested that it will result in an increase in unjustified and extra expenditure. A large amount of money has been spent on reconstructing and renovating the Parliament building in Tbilisi, and in Kutaisi an appropriate building must be found, reconstructed, renovated, furnished and equipped and MPs must be satisfied with the conditions. We should add that apart from the MPs administrative personnel will have to be transported, as will communication systems and different services.

Some ‘nasty’ opposition representatives are suggesting the real reason why the majority is seriously considering moving Parliament is that most Tbilisi residents are opposition-oriented. Moving Parliament to Kutaisi would make the protest rallies less visible as the crowd in Tbilisi will not protest in front of an empty building and to move the focus of the protests from the capital to Kutaisi will take some time. One of the opposition leaders, Eka Beselia, has commented mockingly that Parliament could run round and round until it finds shelter somewhere outside the country. Christian Democrat Giorgi Targamadze think the protest will be just as great in Kutaisi as it is in Tbilisi.

We think it is unlikely that this idea will prove viable as these kind of moves require serious legislative changes. However making these changes is technically possible, so let’s wait and see how seriously and promptly the majority in Parliament will start discussing them. When it wants to promulgate some new laws it can do so very quickly, as the speed of the amendments to the law on Manifestations being adopted showed.

Meanwhile opposition MP Jondi Baghaturia has put forward a new initiative of his own: to build a small church in the grounds of Parliament, saying that there was a big church there once which was demolished by the Communists. This idea, unlike the other, is likely to prove easier to adopt. As for reviving Kutaisi by moving Parliament there, economists think that there are more efficient ways of reviving the country’s economy and ensuring the welfare of the population which should be used.