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Constitution scrutinised by Venice Commission during Tbilisi visit

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 20
The most important problems of the Georgian constitution are the provisions on the formation of the government and on the vote of no confidence - Thomas Markert, secretary of the Venice Commission, said on September 17 to the Parliament of Georgia, while the commissions’ representation’s visit in Tbilisi.

“The main, which imposes the growth of the Parliament role, based on the suggested constitution model is that the Prime Minister will be elected and dismissed by the Parliament, however the process of declaration of non confidence towards the PM is complicated and should be changed. Herewith the fact that Prime Minister can dismiss the Government members without asking to the Parliament should also be changed,” Markert stated. he has also underlined the threats which might be imposed of the existence of strong presidential post, “the Commission said that although the government’s powers would be increased, the President still retains important powers, including in the field of the international relations, the armed forces and the situations of emergency, as well as in case of situation when government faces vote of no confidence. In this case there is a risk of possible scenario, when President could come in conflicts with the other institutions – a scenario is enhanced by the fact that the President is directly elected.” the Secretary of the Commission stated.

As it has been voiced by Markert, the Commission would agree on a ban of taking some governmental post by the current President, after his presidential term expires, in the event that this decision is reached by means of consensus, “the Commission does not recommends this, however if the sides achieve consensus on the issue, it would be acceptable, as we foresee the political situation in the country, “Markert stated.

He also touched on the reason for the opposition's disenchantment concerning the constitutional issues, “I have listened to the members of the Georgian opposition and in general their attitude regarding the new constitution is negative. I think that the main reason for this is their lack of faith in the reform being carried out properly, “the Commission Secretary stated.

In general, the Commission has estimated the process positively. The Venice Commission has produced preliminary opinion on the draft and it was expected to table its final recommendations this week. But as there have been some amendments to the draft, the Commission decided to postpone its final opinion for mid-October in order to have the possibility to assess the refined version of the draft.

The opposition's attitude concerning the new constitution is negative and the greater part of them claim that the new constitution model is custom designed for Mikheil Saakashvili. Certain parts of the opposition, which get involved in the constitution discussing process, have their concrete attitudes and demands, “We suggest that the new draft Constitution weakens the parliament’s authority. If Georgia was a super presidential country, the new constitution will make it a super prime ministerial one – that’s one thing we oppose in the draft along with other important details. It will be difficult for me to predict what they will decide but we really provided the side with serious objections,” Davit Gamkrelidze, leader of New Rights, said. One of the main demands of Our Georgia- Free Democrats is that the current president will not be able to take any governmental post after his presidential terms expires. Herewith, the opposition forecasts that their demands will not be taken into consideration.

As Majority MP, Nugzar Tsiklauri told the Messenger, “We have listened to a lot of remarks, recommendations and statements from the opposition that their remarks have not been considered properly. As the process is going on, I am sure that more of their recommendations will be taken into consideration. There are stages after the final agreement. According to the parliamentary regulations, a constitutional law should be passed with three readings, whereby during the first reading lawmakers discuss the draft’s general principles; during the second reading MPs discuss the draft article-by-article, but no such amendment is permitted at this stage of discussion, which may change the substance of the entire draft in principle. During the third reading only editorial changes are possible. So, mainly, the recommendations would be foreseen during the first and the second hearings of the Parliament, “Tsiklauri stated.

Some Georgian analysts are also doubtful concerning the new constitution model, “I think that the presidential model which is more familiar to our statehood should have been improved rather than creating an absolutely new model. No one was talking about fundamental changes to the Constitution, which will now unfortunately be followed by mistakes as usual,” analyst Ramaz Sakvarelizde told the Messenger. According to Soso Tsiskarishvili, “The present Authority will adopt such changes which will be acceptable for them. I do not expect public opinion to be taken into consideration regarding the issue,” Tsiskarishvili told the Messenger. Different opinion has been expressed by the analyst Soso Tsintsadze for the Messenger, “I have been actively involved in the process and I can say how “active” the opposition were concerning the issue. Some of them even have not read the draft at all. While we have been discussing the draft, a very famous American scientist visited us, who recommended that our constitution to be as far from the American one as possible, as he does not like his country’s constitution. So, the perfect constitution does not exist. I have stated this several times. However this is the optimal version, from those which have been presented. If the opposition wanted something different, they had time to work in this direction. It is too late now, “Tsintsadze stated.