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Venice Commission not to participate in dialogue

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 5
A Member of the Georgian Dream majority, Irina Pruidze, says that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe will not become involved in the dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition over the planned changes in the state constitution.

“This is an internal issue and the Venice Commission will not be involved in it,” Pruidze said.

Pruidze has made the statement in the wake of the majority and the opposition’s failure to reach an agreement on controversial constitutional issues through the dialogue. This has led to the cancellation of a planned meeting between the majority and opposition in Strasbourg through the mediation of the Venice Commission.

According to her, the Parliament will adopt the changes in the constitution with its third and the final reading and the country will have the “best ever” version of the constitution.

MP Pruidze also says that there will be allegedly “no changes” to the law, which were being demanded by the opposition, as the dialogue failed “due to the ultimatums of the opposition”.

She stressed that the Georgian Dream party was devoted to its promise that there would be no changes in the constitution if they were disapproved of by the Venice Commission.

Over the question as to whether the ruling party was ready to take the Venice Commission’s recommendations to move to fully proportional elections from 2020,Pruidze commented that the Commission did not touch “concrete political issues”.

“The Venice Commission shows interest how democratic a constitution is and how much it encourages the state’s democratic development in the long term perspective,” she said adding, “The initial recommendations of the Commission over the draft say that it fitted with all international standards.”

Before adopting the revised draft,Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio called on the Georgian Parliament to make changes through the dialogue with all Georgian political parties.

“Georgia's integration into Europe will end as soon as the draft constitution is adopted and approved,” Levan Berdzenishvili from the Republicans non-parliamentary opposition said.

“The constitution adopted in Georgia serves the interests of one party [Georgian Dream],” one of the leaders of the United National Movement opposition, MP Roman Gotsiridze, stated.

Gotsiridze stressed that if the ruling team adopted the draft constitution, it would ruin the country's image and create serious problems on the international arena.

The initial draft of the constitution sent to the Venice Commission reads that Georgiawill move to fully proportional elections from 2020 and not from 2024; the latter date is currently written in the revised draft through the initiative of the ruling party.

The key demands of the opposition included a full move to proportional elections from 2020, the direct election of the president, the fair sharing of undistributed votes (the votes received by parties failing to overcome thresholds in the elections) between the parliamentary parties and the possibility to create election blocs.

The Venice Commission will provide its recommendations over the revised draft in a month’s time.