Russia Violated International Obligations
On June 2nd, Speaker of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania held a briefing dedicated to the failure of process of withdrawal of Gudauta base. According to statement made by Speaker, terms of OSCE Istanbul agreement, under which Russia had to withdraw its two military bases (Vaziani and Gudauta) before July 1st 2001, have been violated. The sides would also have started negotiations on Russian bases located in Batumi and Akhalkalaki.
“Russia did not fulfill its obligations and did not finish withdrawal of military units and equipment” – stated Zhvania. He sais, that Russia’s desire to keep significant military presense in Abkhazia is evident. He also mentioned, that Georgia did suggest Moscow the alternate ways of withdrawal of military units from Georgia, but is never succeeded. “We hope that Russia would respect its duties” – added Zhvania.
Speaker also stated, the agreement has not been reached in regard of Batumi and Akhalkalaki bases as well. He assumes, that negotiations between Georgia and Russia should not become a victim of separatist regime’s ‘caprice’.
Central Election Commission Should Consist of 7 Members
The Majority and the opposition jointly expressed willingness to make constructive steps – stated Vice Speaker of the Parliament Giorgi Tsereteli during the meting of inter-faction group on July 4. However, the only result that parliamentarians reached at the meeting is that, the Central Election Commission would consist of 7 members and all of them would be representatives of non-governmental organizations.
Parliamentarians discussed an open subject of rule of composition of the commission as well. Member of faction “Industrialists” Vakhtang Khmaladze has presented joint version of the Opposition. Under this version, the commission will have 7 members, nominated by NGOs. And these organizations would be selected by consensus of 11 factions of the Parliament. Commission members would be approved by 2/3 of votes of the Parliament. Under this version, 3 members of each regional commission, (including deputy chairmen) would be appointed by the central commission and other members – by the parties that surpassed 3% ‘barrier’ in Parliament’s or local elections. Each party or block might appoint only one member. The same rules apply to district commissions.
Member of the Central Election Commission, Head of the Parliament’s Apparatus Khatuna Gogorishvili demonstrated Majority’s opinion regarding the version of the Opposition. The Majority agrees to have NGO representatives in the commission. But they must be elected not by the consensus of all 11 factions of the Parliament, but only by those subjects [in the Parliament] that have surpassed election barrier. Nowadays there are three such subjects in the Parliament – “Citizens’ Union”, block “Revival” and block “Industry Saves Georgia”.
The Majority assumes, that since the Central commission would have a trust mandate from all the factions, it would be appropriate if regional commissions would be appointed by the Central commission, and district commissions – by the regional ones.
The Opposition did not agree with the Majority on the rules of composition of regional and district commissions. They doubted that NGOs would not be able to supply members to all commissions from their own resources. However, leader of “Fair Elections” sated, that NGOs are read to accept a version under which full hierarchy of the commissions would be composed of NGO members.
It also should be mentioned, that faction “Agordzineba” declared its mistrust to NGOs and supported composition of the commission by parties’ members. However rest of the Opposition did not support the faction.
Meeting with the Turkish Defense Minister
On July 4 Speaker of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania met Minister of Defense of the Republic of Turkey Sabahatin Cakmakoglu. “The Turkish Government recognizes Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity” – said guest during the meeting. The Minister gave a high importance to Georgia’s role in maintaining stable and peaceful Caucasus. The Turkish Government reards Georgia as a strategic partner and participates together with the United States in rehabilitation of Georgia’s defensive and military infrastructure and human resources. In the nearest future Turkey will present Georgia with military helicopters. Speaker of the Parliament mentioned, “Turkish aid to Georgia must not alarm our neighbors since such cooperation is aimed to strengthening of the country’s defensive capabilities but not against someone else”.
Issues of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and Karsi-Tbilisi railway projects were discussed as well.
Majority and opposition could not Reach Agreement
Consultations between the Parliamentary Majority and the opposition concerning the Election Code and the bill on “Local Self-Governance and Governance” have failed.
After the July 6th consultations, opposition members Vakhtang Khmaladze (fraction “Industrialists”), Vakhtang Bochorsihvili (fraction “21st century”) and Alexander Shalamberidze (fraction “Traditionalist”) said to journalists, that they could not reach agreement with the majority, on each of the subjects, including the issue of composition of the election committees, on which the sides almost did agree just two days ago.
“Fortunately it did not finish with the fist fighting” – said Vakhtang Bochorishvili about July 6th consultations. “Negotiations reached a dead end. Further more, we have been blamed for the fact that Russian bases still remain in Georgia” – said Alexander Shalamberidze. According to his statement, the opposition might demand an extraordinary session, during which their bills on amendments to the Election Code and the Law on Local Self-Governance would be placed on the vote.
Speaker of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania also confirmed the failure of the consultations. He said, that there are certain forces within the opposition, which desire to hinder the preparations for the elections. “We do not pretend for majority and control in the election committees. However such approach does not mean that we would hand over management of the election administration to the opposition,” said Zhvania.
Zhvania also mentioned, that during the extraordinary session the majority is going to propose its own new version of amendments to the election code, according to which the election commissions will be composed of the “third sector” representatives only.
According to the Speaker’s announcement, meeting of leaders of all fractions might take place for July 9th. Extraordinary session would probably be held on July 17-18.
Meetings of the Secretary general of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer in the Parliament
During his official visit to Georgia on July 5-6, Walter Schwimmer met with the Speaker of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania, Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights Elene Tevdoradze and representatives of the Parliamentary Opposition.
Secretary General’s visit was preceded by the statements of the Parliamentary Opposition’s members saying that there is a high possibility of Georgia’s exclusion from the Council of Europe due to unfulfilled international obligations. The Opposition has been making emphasize on local self-governance in this regard. Despite the Opposition’s demands the Government does not wish to have a law, under which elections of governors and mayors would become possible.
At the meeting with the Opposition members, Walter Schwimmer said, that the Council wishes to see in Georgia the local self-governance system that is determined by the European Charter. However, he also added “Georgia’s obligations before the Council of Europe are not for the Council, but for Georgia”. Secretary General showed a deep interest in changes into legislation, currently being elaborated in the Parliament. Scwimmer received information on this issue from the Government and from the Opposition as well.