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The News in Brief

Tuesday, February 14
Georgian parliament overturns president’s veto of judicial bill

Opposition parties in the former Soviet republic of Georgia warn that the independence of the courts will be weakened after the ruling party overturned the president’s veto against a judicial reform bill.

The so-called third wave of judicial reform was vetoed by President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili on January 24, as he found the document incomplete, but the majority Georgian Dream overturned his veto February 8.

In his proposed changes, based on recommendations by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, the President argued that the legislative package, which will amend the Law of the General Court, includes some provisions which contradict to the principles of judicial independence and the impartiality of judges.

The President’s most important objections against the bill concerned the procedures for electing the chairperson of the courts and that the bill will do away with the three year trial period for new Supreme Court judges

The President’s parliamentary secretary, Ana Dolidze, explained more specifically why the President saw the bill as a threat to judicial independence at a press conference on January 24. There are three sets of remarks, she explained.

The first set is about giving judges more autonomy; the second aims at offering judges more security and independence; and third is related to technical issues.

In particular, the President is against the Council of Justice appointing the head of the Supreme Court, and instead leaving that up to the judges themselves, which in the president’s view would ensure more independence of the courts and promote self-governance of judges.

The President also recommended the prevention of one and the same person from simultaneously occupying the posts of the chairperson of the court and the chamber, and called for the abolition of the three-year trial term for Supreme Court judges. He said the maximum number of Supreme Court judges should be specified by the law. Margvelashvili also wanted clearer and more specific rules for collecting and distributing information about candidates during a competition to replace a judge.

But the ruling party, Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia (GDDG), which also comprises the majority in parliament, was dissatisfied with the President’s decision and decided to use its power to overturn his veto two weeks later.

Speaker of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze said the reforms carried out by legislators have had unprecedented significance for the justice system, and that the President’s veto took focus away from that fact.

“It is regrettable that this veto somewhat overshadowed the importance of the reform,” Kobakhidze said.

This was the fifth time Margvelashvili has used his veto powers to block a decision by parliament.
(df watch)

Georgia- U.S. relations have never been so strong – Georgian FM

“The relations between Georgia and U.S. have never been so strong and close,” Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze has assessed his visit to the U.S.

He met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson within the framework of the visit.

As Janelidze told IMEDI TV, this was the most important visit in this very significant period, adding that the meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State represents a unique opportunity which confirms Georgia-U.S. strategic partnership.

“First of all, this is a result of the policy we have been conducting in recent years. This is a result showing that Georgia is a leader country in the region in terms of democratic transformation as well as reforms in respect of stability and development,” he has said.

According to him, the new U.S. administration sees Georgia as a country with great abilities and supports the policy according to which Georgia will become a regional hub in terms of economic cooperation.

President Margvelashvili congratulates Steinmeier on German presidential election victory

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has congratulated Frank-Walter Steinmeier on being elected the president of Germany.

In his congratulatory letter, Margvelashvili said that he believes during Steinmeier's leadership Germany and Georgia will further deepen their relations.

"Your conscientious leadership and devoted service to the country’s interests will earn you the special mandate and trust of the German people, which offers even greater opportunity for new state initiatives and their realisation,” Margvelashvili wrote.

He said that he is confident that Steinmeier’s presidency will be efficient in regards to solving challenges Germany and entire Europe currently face.

Margvelashvili stressed that Georgia attaches great importance in having friendly relations with Germany and is grateful to the nation for its support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

"I firmly believe that during your leadership the historic close cooperation of our two nations will further deepen to benefit both our countries”, Margvelashvili said.

Former German Foreign Minister Steinmeier was elected president by a parliamentary assembly yesterday. He won 931 out of 1,260 votes.