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Ruling Party: Further Consultations over Constitutional Reform ‘Senseless’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Sep.'17 / 15:45

The ruling party considers it “senseless” to hold another round of talks with the opposition over the constitutional reform process and plans to adopt the amendments without the support of the opposition parties, the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority said in its statement on September 1.

According to the statement, despite the ruling party’s “willingness to resume dialogue” over the constitution, the opposition parties failed to submit the list of the issues, the introduction of which in the Constitution would ensure their support to the document.

“Instead, the opposition parties tabled several ultimatums to the authorities and only as a precondition for initiating the dialogue,” the ruling party wrote, adding that the opposition’s “counterproductive activities made it impossible to hold a discussion within the parliamentary majority, and therefore, to resume dialogue with the opposition parties.”

“Since the opposition parties brought the dialogue process into deadlock, it is senseless to hold another round of talks within and outside of the country,” the parliamentary majority also said, effectively declining the Venice Commission’s offer to host the constitutional reform discussions on September 6 in Strasbourg.

The Georgian Dream parliamentary majority also stated that the Parliament would approve the constitutional amendments with its third and final hearing at its autumn session.

“As a result of the constitutional reform process, for the first time in its history since the restoration of independence, Georgia will have a constitution which rules out authoritarian governance in the country and ensures long-term, stable democratic development,” the party concluded.

The ruling party statement was met with heavy criticism from the opposition.

In the words of European Georgia’s Giorgi Tugushi, the Georgian Dream will “bring the country into deadlock,” while Zaza Bibilashvili of the United National Movement called the decision “an enormous step backwards” and added that “the Georgian Dream confirmed what we all knew full well that their objective was to adopt a single-party, anti-democratic and anti-state constitution.”

Representatives of both parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties held talks with the ruling Georgian Dream party on August 18 “to discuss all important issues of the constitutional reform.” The ruling party asked the opposition parties then to submit in written form the issues, the introduction of which in the Constitution would ensure their support to the document.

In response to the proposal, the opposition parties called on the government to return to discussing those draft constitutional amendments, which envisaged transition to the proportional electoral system in 2020. The parties also suggested to to hold a plebiscite for making a final decision on the rule of presidential elections, which is to be held indirectly beginning from 2023.

The ruling party said it was “impossible” to hold another round of talks with the opposition over the constitutional reform process on August 26 as well. Despite its refusal, however, some non-parliamentary opposition parties continued exploring ways for holding negotiations with the government, including through planning to attend the Venice Commission-moderated dialogue in Strasbourg.

The Parliament of Georgia adopted the constitutional amendments with its second reading on June 23. The third and the final hearing will be held in autumn 2017.

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