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Discussions over Constitutional Reforms will be held on Friday

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, August 18
Georgian Dream invited all interested parties at a roundtable

For Georgian political parties it is difficult to find a common language, however, on August 16 eight opposition parties have published a joint announcement addressed to the government, as a response to the Georgian Dream leader Archil Talakvadze’s offer to hold a meeting to further discuss the constitutional amendments. According to Talakvadze, the ruling team is ready to use the remaining time for a political dialogue before the fall session starts in Parliament.

The constitutional reform is one of the most important processes for the state. Despite the fact that the ruling party has a constitutional majority to ensure more legitimation of this process, Georgian Dream offered active involvement in discussions to representatives of civil sector, experts, and political parties. To this end, open public discussions were held in all major cities of Georgia, where the population, NGOs or the opposition parties had the opportunity to express their opinions. However, meetings over draft amendments were accompanied with sharp debates and some negative assessments from the side of opposition and President’s office. The Parliament has already approved the package of amendments with two hearings. In case the Parliament approves the draft with the third hearing in fall this year, Georgia will have an amended constitution.

In the new package of amendments:
• The provision, which stipulates the integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures as the country's main foreign policy course, has been added;
• State provides special measures to ensure equality for men and woman;
• The guarantees of independence of Public Broadcaster, Prosecutor’s Office and Judiciary have been increased;
• The quorum required for the establishment of an investigative commission of the Parliament has been decreased;
• All undistributed mandates go to one political party which takes the first place;
• The president will be elected by the Parliament;
• It is stated that ‘a marriage is a union of a man and a woman;’
• The Parliament elects the Supreme Court judges who will hold the positions permanently by simple majority.

The initiatives were intensely discussed and have strong supporters and opponents. Special attention was paid to changes concerning changing the rule of direct elections of the President and the rule of distribution of mandates. Since the country’s constitution concerns all its citizens, it is necessary to have a maximum of public agreement to proceed with changes. This week, the Georgian Dream leader Talakvadze offered the opposition parties to continue discussions to which the opposition responded with a joint announcement signed by eight political parties: New Georgia, European Georgia - Movement for Freedom, United National Movement, National Democratic Party, Free Democrats, State for People, Civil Alliance for Freedom and Democratic Party of Georgia.

"If Georgian Dream is indeed ready to carry out the changes under the conditions of public-political consent and continue the reform that is at the dead-end at this moment, the government must return to initiation on holding of 2020 parliamentary elections with a proportional system of elections, offered by themselves," the statement reads.

Their remarks also referred to the rule of distribution of mandates and abolishment of the rule of direct presidential elections. The opposition agreed to meet with the Georgian Dream and discuss the conditions of future meetings on Friday, August 18.

The constitutional reform is a sensitive issue and is observed carefully within and outside the country.

"I cannot see the dialogue between the two sides. My message would be the following: Talk to each other," said the President of Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio, during his visit to Tbilisi in June referring to the process of preparation of draft constitutional amendments.

Thus, taking into account the country is trying to join such organizations as NATO and the EU, it is vitally important for Georgia to carry out the process of introduction of constitutional amendments transparently and democratically, in order not to harm the image of the country and reach a consensus within the country. It is in the state’s highest interests that the international society recognizes current constitutional reform is being implemented based on democratic principles and this fact needs to be given better consideration by all parties summoned at a roundtable.