Inter-party discussion of constitutional amendments in Ureki
By Ana Robakidze
Monday, July 8
The Georgian Government and the opposition agree to create a state constitutional commission. The agreement was achieved at the Ureki private seaside residence of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on July 6.
The meeting was attended by the Parliament Chairman Davit Usupashvili and minority leader Davit Bakradze, with the goal to hold consultations on future constitutional amendments. The Georgian Dream coalition is going to carry out comprehensive constitutional reform in three stages. Usupashvili explained earlier on July 5 that the first two stages involve making urgent amendments and the third stage will be fundamental renovation of the constitution.
Before leaving for the meeting in Ureki, the United National Movement (UNM) MP Bakradze said a similar format provided a good opportunity for both sides to discuss all the issues "important for the society and for the opposition". Bakradze stated that quite tense relations between the government and the opposition might have been making dialogue difficult, but still he immediately agreed to attend the meeting in Ureki.
The leader of Parliamentary minority stated after the meeting that despite the fundamental differences that the Georgian Dream Coalition and the UNM have on a whole set of issues, the Ureki meeting should still be assessed positively.
According to Bakradze, the parties agreed that a constitutional commission will be composed by a wide range of political parties, civil society and legal experts, with the major goal being to elaborate an optimal model of the constitution, which should not require frequent amendments and be a permanent model for decades. “The goal of the commission will be to create a constitutional model based on a broad consensus," Bakradze said.
The state commission is planned to work for about a year.
The Georgian Dream Coalition has already finalized the first stage of the amendments, by passing constitutional amendments cutting presidential powers to appoint new government without parliament’s approval. The second stage of the amendments is currently in progress and public discussions are being held on several constitutional changes and the creation of the state constitutional commission should be the final stage of the process.
The PM and Parliamentary Chairman also discussed the UNM’s boycott with Bakradze. The party members started boycotting parliamentary sittings at the end of June in protest of the arrest of four senior officials from the Tbilisi City Council. According to Bakradze, he thinks it is quite possible for the UNM to cease the boycott. Therefore he is going to send the relevant recommendations to UNM MPs.
One of the issues Bakradze raised with Usupashvili and MP Ivanishvili was the legal proceedings against UNM donors. Several individuals who donated funds to the UNM ahead of the October parliamentary elections were summoned by law enforcement officials, although parliament had passed an amnesty act which exempted from legal proceedings the violation of party funding rules. According to Bakradze, the PM and Parliamentary Chairman agreed that legal proceedings would be ceased against the donors.
The parties agreed to hold meetings in a similar format in case it is needed. Similar meetings will not become permanent, but will be held occasionally every time a situation in the country requires it.
"I am glad to see that opposition decided to work together with us," MP Victor Dolidze said, commenting on the Ureki meeting. He says all the issues of sate importance should be solved via the similar format of consultations.
The meeting was also positively assessed by political experts. Head of the European Research Centre, Kakha Gogolashvili, says the Ureki meeting was a part of the co-habitation of the two powers. It has to be welcomed when the dialogue continues between the government and the opposition,” Gogolashvili said, adding that a similar format of dialogue should promote establishing more constructive collaboration between the political parties.