Parliament will move and let its rebels back in
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 28On October 24 two constitutional changes were voted on in Parliament and adopted with 111 votes for and only one against. One will allow Georgian Parliament plenary sittings to be held in Kutaisi, and will come into effect after the next Parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2012. The second one concerns the MPs who refused to take their seats in Parliament after the last elections. Under the new constitutional amendments these politicians will be entitled to reclaim these seats. Opposition members wishing to reenter Parliament should inform the Parliament Speaker, Davit Bakradze, of this by 1 January 2010. Although 12 Deputes refused to take their seats two were ‘majoritarian’ Deputies (elected in single-member constituencies rather than from the concurrent proportional list), and these will not be able to return to Parliament as by-elections have already been held to replace them. The other 10 however have been given the opportunity to participate in Parliamentary life.
So far none of the opposition members elected in May have expressed a wish to change their minds. Speaking at a press conference on September 24 Pikria Chikhradze of the New Rights said that the three elected party members were still not going to take their seats. It has been suggested that Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the leader of the Freedom Party, may do so but he has not confirmed this and is in the US currently.
The evening session on the same day was almost completely dedicated to the Government’s hour, in which Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Davit Tkeshelashvili and Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli made speeches. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure is still in the process of being formed, but despite this some serious and important projects have already been undertaken. Among these are the rehabilitation of roads, restoration of water pipe networks and repair of irrigation and sewer systems. Kindergartens and schools have also been restored and repaired. The Minister drew attention to the State Programme of Village Assistance and underlined its importance and success. He said the programme had been implemented in 3,487 villages after consultations with the local inhabitants and 4,668 projects have been undertaken based on village people’s wishes and needs. Davit Tkeshelashvili added that, “We are planning to continue building highways in 2010 and a new bypass road for the Adjara Region is to be built. The Gombori road will be finished by September 2010. A project will also be implemented in Svaneti, a road connecting Zemo Svaneti to Samegrelo.”
Bakur Kvezereli stated that the Georgian Government has a special plan for helping citrus fruit growers and is searching for new export markets for them. Negotiations are being held with Ukraine and Belarus. It is expected that Georgian citrus fruit will also be exported to the Baltic States. The Minister of Agriculture outlined the Ministry’s future plans: “An agreement has been signed with Japan, and under this 250 pieces of agricultural machinery will be sent to Georgia by November 2009. Their cost is 13 million dollars.” Kvezereli said that the Ministry’s future priorities will be protecting local producers and helping farmers form different co-operative enterprises.