Parliamentary Chair and Alasania discuss new Constitution
By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, September 9The leader of Our Georgia - Free Democrats Irakli Alasania was the first non-parliamentary opposition representative to be interested in participating in discussions on the changes to the State Constitution on September 8. Our Georgia - Free Democrats has a different view regarding the state constitutional changes. The party suggests that the constitution has been perfectly fitted to suit the current President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili and should now be defined by Georgian society. The Parliamentary Chairman welcomed the non-parliament opposition’s engagement in the public discussions and encouraged other oppositional parties to hold consultations during the week.
Stressing that all public and political authorities had been offered the chance to cooperate in the public debates on the changes to the Constitution, Davit Bakradze made a short comment before meeting Irakli Alasania at the State Constitutional Commission. “The whole process of discussions had been transparent. All parties have a right to give suggestions on the issue but unfortunately lots of opposition parties refused to participate in the process aimed at creating and forming the main legislative document for the state. Still there are opposition parties who appear to have enough will and responsibility [to participate in discussions],” Bakradze said emphasising that such meetings “can” or “will” not lead to bilateral agreement but remain part of the civilized political environment in the country.
“We had discussions about the issues we can’t agree on…these are the main differences between the constitutional models. We disapprove of the parliamentary model with a strong Prime Minister and support the strong joint Presidential model under strong parliamentary control. The difference is that the Government of Saakashvili has been trying to fit the constitutional changes to their interests over all of the last years in order to remain in power,” Alasania said stressing the bilateral meetings between the opposition and the Government are always necessary for changing opinions in political processes through dialogue. Talking on the differences of the two sides' approaches to the constitutional models, the Parliamentary Chairman said that politicians should be able to talk about social and political issues trying to understand the different opinions.
Meanwhile the other non-parliamentary opposition parties disapproved of Alasania’s meeting with Bakradze claiming such consultations are senseless. Confident that the bilateral meeting between the Parliamentary Chairman and the leader of Our Georgia - Free Democrats, the leader of Democratic Movement – United Georgia Nino Burjanadze wondered why Alasania had made this step when no past meetings with the Government of Georgia had ever produced positive consequences. “If Alasania can name at least one unique successful case following dialogue with the Government I will say that this step can be made. Engagement in dialogue can only have a result when the opposite side is prepared to listen and share all your arguments ... otherwise each dialogue with them just serves to improve the Governmental facade. I remember when Saakashvili used to give false promises to the opposition, which later I had to explain to society,” Burjanadze stated.
The Chairman of Parliament of Georgia stated he would be ready to hold meetings on these very issues with all parties who express a willingness to cooperate. The next meeting with the non-parliamentary opposition is planned with the New Rights and the Industrialists on September 9. “The New Rights have been actively engaged in discussions on the constitutional changes with the State Constitutional Commission as well as the public and student Commissions during the whole summer,” Davit Gamkrelidze the leader of the New Rights said confirming he would meet Bakradze.
“There are some details which need to be improved within the draft but the general opinion about the new draft constitution has been positive as a whole,” the diplomats commented after the closed door meeting with Davit Bakradze earlier on September 8. Meetings with the Delegation of the Venice Commission and Legal Committee of Legal Affairs of the EU are also planned for the near future. “It is important not only to cooperate with Georgian society but our European colleagues,” Bakradze said stressing that the transparency of the process is also an important part for matching the new State Constitution with the best European traditions.
“I like the fact that the discussions over the European model of the State Constitution of Georgia have been transparent. I hope that the new legislative document will be a warrant for Georgia’s democratic development,” Per Eklund, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the EU to Georgia told the media.
Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger that the Georgian Government’s readiness to cooperate with the non-parliament opposition is an attempt to please “the naive foreigners”. “During the six months when the state constitutional model had been prepared by its authors they used to claim this very model had been aimed at weakening the presidential authority and strengthening the Prime Minister’s role. But when the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was discussing the issue with his colleagues at the Black Seaside in recent days he spoke of the strong presidential and parliamentary governance. His words appeared to be enough for the State Constitutional Commission to start claiming their model is exactly matching the President’s will…It’s difficult to be serious about this issue when this very model of the constitutional draft has been created for the unique political power in our country. As for the non-parliament opposition cooperating with the Government either they really like the model or just think it’s the shortest way to become close to the Government,” Tsiskarishvili told us.