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Georgian Justice Minister Accuses President of Law Violation

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 12
Georgia’s Justice Minister, Thea Tsulukiani says President Giorgi Margvelashvili broke Georgia’s Law on Citizenship, when he ordered to move the Citizenship Issues Commission, responsible for granting citizenship of Georgia to foreigners, from the Justice Ministry to the Presidential administration.

This shift means that starting from January 15 this year the applicants will undergo all the proper citizenship procedures at the Presidential administration.

According to the President’s decree issued on December 26, the President’s administration will chair the Citizenship Issues Commission instead of the Public Service Development Agency under the Ministry of Justice.

Moreover, as Tsulukiani explained at a special press conference on Wednesday, the commission will have six members instead of four.

Apart from the commission head, President Margvelashvili will have two more representatives in the commission – one from the President's Administration and one from the National Security Council, headed by the President.

Tsulukiani said the Justice ministry will have only one member in the commission, instead of two.

“The President's decree contradicts other norms of the same decree and is not in compliance with the Organic Law of Georgia on Citizenship of Georgia. According to the Article 24, Public Service Development Agency discusses citizenship applications,” she said.

The minister said that last year President Margvelashvili refused to grant the Georgian citizenship to 565 foreigners, adding 89% of them were born in Georgia, used to be citizens of Georgia and their family members are Georgian citizens.

“Such a policy, I think, contradicts the spirit of the Constitution,” the minister said.

“I hope by moving the Commission to his administration, the President will not continue his last year’s policy and will change it with the positive and fair dynamics,” she added.

The recent report of Citizenship Issues Commission reads that in the period of January-October 2017, the commission discussed 5,321 citizenship requests and approved of 3,097, which were sent to the President to take further decisions.

The President approved 3000 applications and rejected 97. According to the report, out of the rejected requests, 70 persons were born in Georgia and 27 were former citizens of Georgia or their family member was a Georgian citizen.

The report also says that in 2017 President Margvelashvili granted the citizenship of Georgia to eight persons without procedures envisaged by the commission. In addition, the President granted the citizenship to 79 ethnic Georgians living in the Fereydan region in Iran.