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Majority, minority meet Venice Commission members

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, April 27
Members of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority and the European Georgia minority have separately met representatives of the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law.

The meetings came amid key changes being made to Georgia’s Constitution, as the state commission working on the changes has already completed its work and sent the draft of the amendments to the legislative body for further discussions.

In their comments in the wake of the meetings, the majority and the minority voiced different massages, with the majority saying that the Venice Commission “prised the planned changes”, and the opposition claiming that the Commission recommendations over the amendments would be “negative.”

“According to the assessment of our European colleagues, the changes in the constitution are very positive and a serious step forward in all directions,” First Deputy Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Tamar Chugoshvili, stated after her meeting with Thomas Marcert, Secretary of the Venice Commission, in Strasbourg.

The press service of the Parliament of Georgia reported that Chugoshvili and Marcert talked about the efforts of the State Constitutional Commission and the issues related to the constitutional reform, which caused different opinions.

Chugoshvili told the media that Mercert confirmed that the changes drafted by the State Constitutional Commission concerning the rule of election of Supreme Court judges and the Security Council are in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

She also added that the Venice Commission had no remarks, and positively assessed the changes to the proportional electoral system, the 5% election barrier and the banning of election blocs.

However, the Vice Speaker stated that the Venice Commission may have recommendations over the distribution of mandates after the parliamentary elections, as the current draft says that instead of equal distribution between the elected parties in parliament the votes [mandates] of those parties who gain some votes but fail to overcome the 5% threshold would go to the party with most seats in the legislative body.

Chugoshvili stated that the Commission may also have a recommendation about the note in the draft which says that the marriage is the voluntary union inly between a man and a woman.

Meanwhile, representatives of the European Georgia David Bakradze stated that they informed the Venice Commission that the current authorities were trying to tailor the changes to their own interests.

Bakradze stressed that they also told the Commission members that the current draft wasn’t supported by the opposition members of the 73-member state constitutional commission, as well as by a large portion of Georgia's NGOs and the Public Defender.

The head of the State Constitutional Commission, Irakli Kobakhidze, vowed that no change would be brought to the Constitution if it was disliked by the Venice Commission.

The Venice Commission will present its final recommendations in the summer.