A group of nine Georgian civil society organizations (CSOs), including the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the Transparency International – Georgia, released a statement on June 14, a day before the Venice Commission’s final opinion on draft constitutional amendments.
The organizations said that despite Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze’s pledges that the ruling party would be ready to consider all recommendations of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, following the release of the Commission’s preliminary opinion, Kobakhidze and individual ruling party MPs “stated that they do not share some recommendations of the Commission.”
The CSOs noted that the Parliamentary Chairman “does not share” several recommendations of the Venice Commission, including the recommendation on requiring a qualified parliamentary majority for electing the President in the first round and on electing the Supreme Court judges.
The organizations also pointed out that ruling party MPs “are periodically making statements” on intra-party disagreements over the proposed transfer to fully proportional electoral system and the postponement of indirect presidential elections to 2023.
These statements, the CSOs argued, “create suspicions that the government is trying to come up with ways to avoid full consideration of the Venice Commission’s recommendations and makes it seem like the authorities are trying to diminish the importance of some of the recommendations of the Venice Commission.”
The organizations called on the Parliament to adopt all recommendations of the Venice Commission and “not to conduct parliamentary readings of the constitutional amendments in a hasty manner and to allocate reasonable time for discussing revised amendments with relevant stakeholders.”
Speaking before her departure for the Venice Commission’s 111th Plenary Session, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili said the ruling party would “fulfil its pledges” and would adopt all recommendations of the Venice Commission. “The constitution that the Parliament of Georgia will vote on will be in full compliance with European standards, will be a coherent document and a very good constitution for Georgia,” she added.
The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, will discuss the proposed constitutional amendments at its 111th Plenary Session in Venice, Italy on June 16-17. Along with Chugoshvili, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and the President’s Parliamentary Secretary Anna Dolidze will also be present at the Commission’s session on Georgia.