Georgian Dream lawmakers have given mixed reactions to the January 10 statement of the ruling party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, in which he accused MP Eka Beselia of “acting against the team” in the Supreme Court appointments dispute.
Eka Beselia was the first to respond to GD leader’s remarks, saying she will “shed light on everything” on January 14. “I am sure that the public will learn the truth and I am sure of the truthfulness of this struggle,” the lawmaker noted.
Beselia’s allies have followed suit, with MP Gedevan Popkhadze saying his team spirit is best expressed in “loyalty to the values and principles” that brought victory to the Georgian Dream party in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
“My team is those [political] prisoners who prayed for our victory and those who stayed overnight at polling stations; this is my team and I will never betray them… appointing Saakashvili’s oppressive judges will never be acceptable for these people,” he noted, urging Ivanishvili to “stay loyal to the team that won the 2012 elections.”
Popkhadze also stressed the GD leader has to clarify his position on the proposed list of Supreme Court judges.
Similar messages were voiced by MP Levan Gogichaishvili. “We believe that those who supported the nominations list, including Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, as well as those affiliated with him, should not have a leading role in the process; if they have, this will reduce trust towards the Parliament and the process,” the lawmaker said.
Positions differ in another group of Georgian Dream lawmakers.
“Our differences are not about the Supreme Court judges; our differences lie in how we handled the process – I think the actions, decisions and messages of Eka Beselia and Gedevan Popkhadze were not in line with the reality,” said MP Giorgi Volski.
“I do not see myself together with those who are trying to impose hasty and imprudent decisions on the country,” he added.
MP Giorgi Kakhiani echoed the message, saying Beselia’s decision to voice her position on the Supreme Court appointments process publicly, without consulting with other lawmakers, has harmed the Georgian Dream party.
“When majority of team members consider that the decision [on the appointments process] has to be made through discussions, and when some lawmakers start speaking about the issue openly, this harms the team, and it seems as if other team members think differently about the process, which is not the case,” he said.
“There are some in the 10-member list who are perceived positively [in the ruling team], there are those who trigger questions and those who are perceived negatively,” Kakhiani explained.
The lawmaker added, however, that the ruling party is unanimous that there are shortcomings in the legislation – allowing the High Council of Justice, the body in charge of judicial appointments, to nominate the candidates “in a hasty manner.” He stressed the Parliament will set out specific criteria for candidate selection and nomination.
Kakhiani also commented on Beselia’s possible dismissal from the GD faction, saying it is not on the agenda, but will depend on her future decisions. “All I can say is that she is a valuable member of the team and I would like her to stay in the Georgian Dream,” he noted.
MP Archil Talakvadze, leader of the Parliamentary majority, took a more moderate stance.
“This is not the first time the ruling party lawmakers have expressed divergent positions; our position, including mine as the majority leader, is to combine these arguments to the extent possible and adopt a consolidated decision,” he said.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili commented on the matter as well, saying the way the appointments list was compiled and submitted “was not right.”
She believes the list has to be recalled by the High Council of Justice pending legislative reform of selection and nomination procedures. “I believe the High Council has to withdraw the list and resubmit the candidacies only after respective legislative changes are introduced,” she added.
“The selection criteria and procedures have to be outlined clearly and coded in the legislation,” the Deputy Speaker also noted.
MP Eka Beselia and several other MPs accused the party’s parliamentary leadership, including Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, of lobbying the controversial list of judicial nominees. They claim the list has to be recalled as some candidates served Mikheil Saakashvili’s “oppressive regime.”
Positions differ in another group of lawmakers, which, among others, includes Speaker Kobakhidze and Georgian Dream faction chair Mamuka Mdinaradze. They argue Beselia’s resignation is not related to the appointments process, and insist that the the issue has to be discussed within the party.