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Georgian democracy proclaimed at Batumi conference

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, June 27
An international conference called Past and Future of Constitutional Control in Young Democracies was opened in Batumi on June 25. Judges of European Court of Human Rights; the President of the Venice Commission and Chairmen of Constitutional Courts of tens of countries, including Ukraine, Italy and Hungary attended the two-day conference dedicated to the 15th jubilee of judges of the Constitutional Court.

The sides familiarized themselves with the achievements of the Georgian Constitutional Court, discussing its role and achievements and defining improvements for further efficiency. Expressing his pleasure towards Georgia’s success in the democratization process, the Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio praised Georgia’s achievements as a full member of the European Constitutional Court and hoped that the bilateral cooperation would help them create a fairer court in Georgia with one of the most democratic constitutions in the world.

“Our cooperation has a long history – I have been to Batumi several times before and when I first came to this town there was an absolutely different situation. I’m really glad that Georgia’s democratic institution is now located here and I want to congratulate the President and the entire population with such rapid steps towards development,” Buquicchio said stressing that he felt part of Georgia.

Congratulating the judges on the momentous date, President Saakashvili spoke of the judiciary reforms and the increase of public trust towards the system. Sharing Georgia’s legal traditions with the guests, Saakashvili gave a brief introduction to the improvements made within the judiciary system. Explaining that there have been some obstacles with the creation of a good constitutional court in our country the President praised the Georgian practice in handling legal and political disputes through court.

“It’s more difficult to develop a good judiciary system than a good police or a good customs office because, for example, the policemen may be changed with trained newcomers while no judges can be brought from a street. That’s because the judges need great work ethic and integrity which we unfortunately lacked in Georgia,” Saakashvili said welcoming the appointment of young judges with experienced people at various levels of the court. These judges according to the President have the full institutional independence which means that they are free of any political bias.

“You all know well that I have never headed any of the sittings of the Council of Justice even when I had the authority to do so, the only thing which I initiated was to move the Constitutional Court to Batumi,” he stated. Highlighting the importance of decentralization of the country, Saakashvili spoke of the “historic importance” of the distribution of state bodies in different parts of Georgian territory. “This is the new Georgia where everything is being planned not by the one and the same 100 people living in the middle of the capital but the 4 million 700 000 people taking decisions on the future of their country,” he stated.

Praising the young judges in developing their ethics through practice, Saakashvili explained that these people are absolutely protected by law against any illegal interference. Discouraging the “gossip television and dirty insinuations of dirty newspapers” of underestimating the reforms of the judiciary, Saakashvili stressed that the majority of Georgian people (around 60%) expresses their confidence towards the progress achieved by the system.

Analyst Vakhtang Khmaladze gave a brief explanation of the situation within the Georgian judiciary system to The Messenger. “It’s really exaggerated to claim that the system is fully independent and the statistical analysis of the court decisions would prove it,” the analyst told us. “It’s almost impossible to dispute about the criminal or administrative cases with the court officials. The process of investigation is not so developed in Georgia to prove that all the claims have been thoroughly considered by the prosecutors and that all the charges against the detainees need no additional contradiction,” Khmaladze explained.

The situation is almost the same with administrative cases although the analyst could see some improvements with the constitutional court. “I may not be satisfied with all the decisions made by the constitutional court but they are always followed by the relevant explanations and leave the impression of professionalism even if someone isn’t content with the sentence,” the analyst told us. Worrying that the courts don’t fully use their authority, Khmaladze explained that there are practically no disputes among state bodies. As the analyst told The Messenger there are often cases when one particular state organ interferes with another’s authority without further complications. This all, according to Khmaladze, makes us feel that the court either lacks professionalism or depends on state policy.