The messenger logo

Tension on the top

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 14
The Administration of the President of Georgia has announced that the president will not participate in the activities of the Constitutional Commission, which will be established to intoduce amendments in the country’s main law.

The statement came after a recent announcement of the Parliament Speaker of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, who stated that in 2013 the Commission would be established in Parliament - now under his leadership - and would be composed of representatives from President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s administration, members of the majority and minority, experts, civil sector representatives and people from key constitutional institutions.

Kobakhidze’s statement has turned down the President’s previous initiative on the creation of such a Commission co-chaired by himself, the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker.

Responding to the establishment of the Commission under Parliament again, the President’s representative Giorgi Abashishvili stressed that the Commission would have a “low level of legitimacy”, as it declined to include the President, who does not represent any political group.

Abashishvili stressed that the President’s representatives would not be present in the Commission, and instead the President’s administration would be “very actively” involved in public discussions of the draft of amendments after it were presented by the Commission before April 30 next year.

“Surprising, wrong and regrettable,” majority representative Mamuka Mdinaradze said while evaluating the President’s decision over the issue.

He stressed that drafting the Constitutional amendments was the prerogative of Parliament, and not representatives of the executive government.

A fellow representative of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, Gia Volski, stressed the President “should support” the activities of the Constitutional Commission otherwise he would “contradict” the state interests.

Members of the United National Movement opposition stated the rejection of the President’s initiative over co-chairing of the Commission was related to the Georgian Dream party founder's negative attitude to Margvelashvili; tension between Bidzina Ivanishvili and the President has now been public for many years..

The opposition claims that one of the amendments introduced in the Constitution would be related to changing the method of electing the President; allegedly Parliament will approve the new President in 2018, and the post will no longer be elected by the population.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes the President’s decision not to participate in the Commission’s work would be “unbeneficial for him and his team first of all”, as through this step the President is cut off from state activities.

The analyst says that, as a rule, such decisions were not characteristic of the President.

Fellow analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili says it would be better for two different versions of the Constitutional amendments to be drafted and all interested sides to have an opportunity to compare them.

Major changes in the Constitution were introduced under the United National Movement leadership in 2010, through which the country moved to a mainly parliamentary ruling system from a Presidential model, with the Prime Minister and not the President becoming the top political figure.

However, the Georgian Dream leadership, which defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement in 2012, stressed the changes caused a “serious misbalance between state institutions” and were fitted to the interests of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, “who wished to become Prime Minister after his two term as President expired in 2013”.

To amend the Constitution and to make it “balanced and in full compliance with European standards”, a constitutional Commission was established in 2013, with the leadership of then-Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili and 57 members from the President’s administration, minority, majority, NGOs, experts and the heads of the Supreme and Constructional courts.