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Constitutional Reform of Georgia to be discussed further

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, September 14
The State Constitutional Commission, chaired by Avtandil Demetrashvili, summarized the draft of the new constitutional model at the Closing Meeting on September 13. After months of public discussions on the issue, the Commission prepared the document for the consideration of Parliament which is responsible for final confirmation of the new State Constitution. Stressing the recommendations from the sides about leaving the Organic Code as well as the Property Rights will be considered by the State Constitutional Commission. Davit Bakradze, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, said that the new constitutional project will be the main issue of discussion for the members of the Venice Commission and the Legal Issues Committee of the European Union on September 16, 17 and 18 who will be arriving to Georgia. “Recommendations of our foreign guests referring to the constitutional draft will be very important. So the Parliament of Georgia will discuss the issue after the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the Legal Issues Committee will be considered on the project,” he told his colleagues.

The new European model of the State law is oriented on creating a balance between the Parliament and the Government as well as defining the role of President and Prime Minister within the statehood. At the Parliamentary Committees, MPs will start detailing analysis of the State constitutional reform, putting a visa on the draft at the Bureau Sitting and then to the Plenary Sitting for final discussions. The Parliament and non-Parliament opposition participating in the public discussions hoped that their suggestions would somehow be considered in the draft, which will then be introduced to the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs. The Commission is expected to present its opinion on the planned constitutional reform in Georgia. “The organizational meeting of the State Constitutional Commission had to discuss the results of the consultations held during the previous months. All the reasonable recommendations from the different sides working on the issue will be shared with the Parliamentary Plenary Sitting which has to decide either to accept the changes within the draft or not,” Avtandil Demetrashvili told the media before the meeting.

Hoping to initiate an increase in the rights of the Parliament, the leader of Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Giorgi Targamadze, said the balance between the legislative and executive bodies could not have been imagined if the Parliament serves as “a supporting power” for the Government. “There are lots of issues which need serious discussion before adopting the final draft of the new constitutional reform. It will be better to consider all the recommendations given during the public discussions from the interested sides,” Targamadze told the media.

Claiming that August had not been the ideal time for discussions around the reforms within the major state document, the MP from the CDM, Levan Vepkhvadze, said CDM had already expressed their opinion about the new draft which, according to him, still needs certain improvements. “Strengthening the authority of Parliament of Georgia, promoting the rights of minority as well as the issue concerning the Organic Law are the subjects requiring more negotiations,” explained MP.

Public discussions which started in late July were led by a 36-member group. The process adopted was a formal procedure required for any constitutional amendment before it is discussed by the Parliament. Bakradze, with the several senior lawmakers from the group, held meetings with the leaders of non-parliament opposition parties (Our Georgia-Free Democrats, New Rights and Industrial Party) to hear their criticism of the proposed draft. Stressing it was not possible to agree on all the remarks expressed by the opposition representatives, Bakradze promised the group that public discussions would try to take into consideration at least some of the opposition’s concerns.

“We just want to know what the ideas suggested by the sides were, during the public discussions around the state constitutional reform. We don’t actually have some great illusions but still wonder whether our suggestions will be considered in the final draft,” Mamuka Katsitadze from the New Rights Party shared with the media.

Analyst Soso Tsintsadze, who had been actively engaged in the public discussions, said that the recommendations of the various sides have been considered by the State Constitutional Commission. The new European model of the major legislative package will be introduced to the Venice Commission and the Legal Issues Committee of the European Union before its final adoption by the Georgian Parliament.

“Any kind of trade has a particular strategy which the Government of Georgia has used concerning the State Constitutional reform. I just wonder what they wanted either from the Organic Law or the Property Rights. The fact is that the opposition has remained content with the tiny changes suggested by them while the more serious issues such as the imbalance between the state bodies claimed by them has remained unchanged. Effectively, the Government has won this round of the game,” Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger.