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More hasty changes in the law regarding time frame for granting citizenship

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 10
The set time frame of one week laid out in the law for delivering a conclusion to those appealing for Georgian citizenship has now been removed by the decision of the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

Until now, after a special appeal had been made to the President by the citizen of a foreign state, the Civil Agency Service was obliged to prepare a special conclusion regarding the person and the case within a week’s time. According to the recent decision of the President, the Civil Registry will not have a defined time frame to comply with anymore.

Due to that there are now some specific issues regarding this; the commission will also be enabled to discuss the granting of citizenship by taking state and social security into consideration and use the rules commonly adopted by the Ministrie of Justice and Interior.

The decision was immediately followed by speculations that such a decision significantly lengthens the time it takes to grant citizenship to citizens of a foreign state and that the decision was the direct result of Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s coming to politics. Representatives of those parties which are allied with Ivanishvili however claim that the decision will have no effect on the businessman’s case. “Of course the decision is to be discussed in the frame of ‘Bidzina’s law’, which was made after Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to come to politics, however our appeal is an absolutely different sort and foresees a natural way of getting citizenship rather than being granted it,” one of the leaders of the Republican Party, Tina Khidasheli, told The Messenger, and mentioned that such decisions are a shameful act by the authorities and further reveal the Government’s true face in regards to Ivanishvili. As for future plans, Khidasheli said that they will use all legal means to achieve their aim. “The authorities have no formal ability to reject our appeal, we are now waiting for a response and will act based on the outcome and the mistakes made by the President.”

The opposition claims that the Government’s sun is moving around Ivanishvili, which is not serious but is already causing irritation.

Majority Representative Davit Darchiashvili told The Messenger. “They think that all the decisions we now make are against their new favourite…” As for the decision in question, Darchiashvili mentioned that one week was too small a time to make such a serious decision and that the time limit therefore was flawed. “Speculations that the process of granting citizenship would be unduly lengthened are unfounded. Every year there are many such appeals and all of them are given a timely response. At the same time the Civil Registry should be given a reasonable time to consider a special appeal and not have its decision time be limited to one week.”

According to analyst and expert on issues concerning the constitution, Vakhtang Khmaladze, no changes have yet been made to the timeframe for the President’s final decision. “The Civil Registry might take up to two weeks, one month or more to deliver its response, while the President still has three months (from the time of applying) to either agree to the appeal or not.” The analyst thinks that removing a concrete term for the Civil Registry’s answer was a “principally wrong decision” as it enables the Agency to keep a man in uncertain circumstances regarding his citizenship for too long.