Giorgi Margvelashvili (second from the left), September 11, 2017. Photo: president.gov.ge
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili offered the opposition parties to revise those provisions of the Georgian Dream-proposed draft constitution, which the ruling party and opposition failed to reach consensus on.
“Let’s take this document and mark those provisions, which caused major controversy. Let’s write our version, which you will agree on regardless of your differences and then propose it to the ruling party as a solution,” President Margvelashvili said at his meeting with opposition parties on September 11.
Representatives of parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties, who attended the meeting with the President, hailed the initiative and expressed readiness to participate in developing the new document.
“It is important to develop the document through consensus, which will then be offered by the President as an alternative,” Nika Melia, one of the leaders of the opposition United National Movement, told reporters after the meeting.
“We will definitely join the initiative. We have joined all the initiatives aimed at reaching consensus on the constitution. The opposition has again demonstrated its willingness to defuse tensions around the process and return it to its normal path. But, the reality is that the government is not interested in reaching consensus,” Elene Khoshtaria of the European Georgia noted.
“We will give another chance to the Georgian Dream to ensure that it saves its face and does not tailor the constitution to itself,” said Giorgi Vashadze of the New Georgia.
The ruling party denounced the President’s initiative as a groundless attempt, saying that the constitution has already been approved with two readings.
“I do not know what the purpose of his initiative is. I can only say that the draft constitution, which will definitely ensure the country’s democratic development, has already been approved with its two readings and we will approve it with its third reading as soon as we receive the Venice Commission’s conclusion,” said MP Giorgi Kakhiani of the Georgian Dream.
It is yet unknown when exactly will the political parties launch the working meetings on the initiative.
President Margvelashvili’s statement comes slightly over a week after the ruling Georgian Dream announced further talks with the opposition “senseless,” followed by the Venice Commission’s statement that “the repeated failure of the Georgian parties to reach consensus on the revised Constitution through negotiations is disappointing.”
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 late September, shortly after the Venice Commission submits its preliminary opinion on the revised draft of the constitution.
Opposition parties have been criticizing the ruling party for its “single-handed” changes to the draft constitution, including its decision to backtrack on the opposition-pushed and the Venice Commission-endorsed introduction of the fully proportional electoral system for 2020.