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Parliamentary opposition meet diplomats

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, June 3
Representatives of the Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrats met the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia on Tuesday to discuss the constitutional reform plans presented by the Christian Democrats and the UN Secretary General’s recent report on Georgia. The leader of the Parliamentary minority, Giorgi Targamadze, said prior to the meeting that Ban Ki-moon’s report included a “dangerous tendency” and expressed his “concern” about it. “The UN and Security Council should remain faithful to the positions outlined in the documents adopted by them in previous years, where support for Georgia’s territorial integrity is expressed,” Targamadze said.

After the meeting the sides stressed the necessity of “result-oriented” negotiations between the opposition and Government. Giorgi Targamadze said it is important that the Government takes concrete steps to discharge the political crisis in Georgia. “The more we deal in illusions, the longer it will take to solve the problems,” he said.

“Our position is that we should modify the Georgian Constitution in a way which will create the conditions for long term stable development. At the same time steps should be taken to resolve other issues, for instance, establishing an appropriate electoral environment, raising the level of objectivity of Georgian TV and so on. This is what has to be done,” Targamadze stated.

Ivan Jestrab, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, said that his country supports Georgia’s territorial integrity. The Ambassador pointed out that the issue of responsibility was “widely discussed” at the meeting with the Christian Democrats. Jestrab said that taking responsibility for the political, economic and social future of the country is an important issue, not only for politicians but the “whole of society”.

Christian Democrat Nika Laliashvili said that the UN report on Georgia was an issue for discussion at the meeting as well. “The last document adopted by the UN cannot be considered a triumph of Georgian diplomacy. We asked the representatives of the diplomatic corps to continue supporting us and maintain the categorical position they have about Georgia,” Laliashvili noted.

The Chairman of the Special Commission which is due to work on amendments to the Georgian Constitution was nominated last month by the Parliamentary minority group. Former Chairman of the Constitutional Court and specialist in constitutional law Avtandil Demetrashvili accepted nomination on May 22. Demetrashvili is yet to be approved as the Chair of the Commission.

On Tuesday the Georgian Patriarchate released a statement regarding the Commission. The statement, read by Father Mikael Botkoveli, says that some politicians have suggested that representatives of the Georgian Patriarchate should be part of this Commission. “We would like to state that the status of the Church, defined by the constitutional agreement between the State and the Church, is absolutely acceptable for us and we consider it unacceptable to revise it even in the case of constitutional changes (now or in the future). The involvement of the Church in the discussion of other constitutional or legal issues is not justified, because this process will of course develop through political debate, and the Church should remain politically neutral, in order to carry out its important function as a unifying institution,” the statement reads.

Another leader of the Parliamentary opposition, Georgian Democratic Party MP Gia Tortladze, presented his views on the ways out of the crisis. Tortladze spoke about his 10-point plan at a special press conference on June 2. Like his colleagues from the Christian Democratic Movement, Tortladze said “it is necessary” to work out constitutional changes in order to “balance” the branches of Government. Tortladze’s plan also envisages creating a new election code in order to ensure democratic elections in Georgia and implementing court system reform to achieve the “complete independence” of the courts. The opposition MP said a law on lustration should be adopted and a state commission should be created to investigate the coup d’etat in 1991-1992.

Under Tortladze’s plan the Georgian Labour Code should be amended and reforms should be made in order to regulate the taxation system of small and medium-sized businesses. “A state programme designed to improve the social conditions of IDPs from Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia) should be prepared, as should a strategy of steady development and a new security concept,” Tortladze said. “I am sure that these initiatives will return the country to normal,” he added. The opposition MP said he is going to start consultations with different political forces about his 10-point plan.

Changes in the Constitution are very important, but new constitutional norms should not exist only on paper but in real life, analysts say. Political commentator Gia Khukhashvili has stated that changing the Constitution is not the way out of the current crisis. “Short-term, urgent system changes are needed instead of a long-term process of change. We have a bad Constitution now, and some people manage to violate the norms of this “bad” constitution and place themselves above those norms. There is a lack of trust in the Georgian Constitution, this is the main problem and this situation should change,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger. As for Tortladze’s proposal, Khukhashvili noted that the points in his proposal are good, but should be implemented by the Government without waiting for dialogue with the opposition. “These are issues that the Government should be working on daily, without needing any consultations with any opposition force,” Khukhashvili said.