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The President and the Constitutional Commission

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 8
Ana Natshvilishvili, the head of one of the most influential NGOs in Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, says that if the President of Georgia is not presented with important status at the country’s Constitutional Commission created in the future, the significance and status of the Commission working on constitutional amendments would be at risk.

She says the issue of the creation of the Constitutional Commission, as well as the revision of the current Constitution, is “very significant”.

“The format of the Commission that will work on the changes must be as transparent and inclusive as possible,” Natsvlishvili said.

The current Constitution of Georgia was drafted under the previous United National Movement leadership, which envisaged the establishment of a parliamentary ruling system instead of a presidential model.

However, many stated that the constitutional changes put forward by the United National Movement team running Georgia between 2003-2012 were “hasty and fitted to the interests of then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who wished to be the Prime Minister of Georgia after the expiration of his two-term presidency in 2013”.

However, in October 2012, the current ruling Georgian Dream defeated the United National Movement in the Parliamentary Elections, and stated that the Constitution included numerous drawbacks that caused misbalance and conflict between state institutions.

The Georgian Dream leadership put certain amendments in the Constitution, which is regarded as the main law of any country, but key changes were not put in place at the time, as the ruling team lacked the constitutional majority in Parliament, with 113 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body.

After the October parliamentary elections this year, the Georgian Dream party has 116 representatives in Parliament and consequently it has the power to amend the Constitution without the opposition's support.

One of the very first statements made by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is the key state figure according to the current Constitution of Georgia, was related to the necessity of the Constitutional changes through “large-scale public involvement”.

The initiative was shortly responded to by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who proposed the establishment of a working group, which would be co-chaired by the President of Georgia, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament, over necessary changes in the country’s main law.

The President also touched upon the issue in his speech at the first session of the new Parliament of Georgia last month.

He said the Constitution included a "range of drawbacks” that must be improved "based on large-scaled dialogue” involving a range of people.

“We must avoid fitting the Constitution to a certain political group’s interests. The Constitution must clearly draw lines between the obligations of various state institutions, ensure a balance is met and not a concentration of power only in one hand,” the President said.

Power resting in the hands of a single party always creates threats for democracy.

The work of the future Constitutional Commission will be one of the most important tests for the current leadership.

It would be better for Georgia's international image if the government will not copy their predecessors and try to fit the Constitution to their own interests.