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Parliament Weekly: 18-24 February

NSC bill passed - Anaklia safe: Minister - Beselia et al quit - GD loses Constitutional majority - One year since Tatunashvili death - 1921 Soviet Occupation marked

Plenary sessions

  • Bill on National Security Policy Planning and Coordination

On February 19, the Parliament’s plenary session was opened with the lawmakers’ statements.

MPs discussed and adopted with its first hearing the Bill on National Security Policy Planning and Coordination.

The bill foresees a new National Security Council functioning under the Prime Minister, responsible for national security policy planning and coordination, as well as for advising the Prime Minister on decisions affecting national security and state interests.

This advisory body will be chaired by the Prime Minister and will have eight permanent members: the Ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and finance, heads of state security and intelligence services, and chief of the defense forces. One of the National Security Council members will serve as its Secretary. The President of Georgia will not be represented in the Council.

The majority of questions asked by MPs were just related to the modalities of  involvement of the President, who by the Constitution holds the position of the Commander-in-chief, in the Council’s activities, since she is not foreseen to be its permanent member. In response, Natia Mikeladze, the government’s parliamentary secretary, noted that if interested, the President will be briefed about the work of the Council. According to Mikeladze, Prime Minister will be also be authorized to invite other, non-member officials, including the President, to the Council meetings.

  • Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure on the floor

On February 20, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Maia Tskitishvili reported to the Parliament on the 2019-2025 Decentralization Strategy and Action Plan of the Ministry for 2019-2020.

She noted that the key principles of the strategy involve increased powers for local self-governments, adding that the ministry is actively working in this direction. The Minister also focused on infrastructure projects planned by her agency, noting that GEL 2 billion will be invested for this purpose.

Amid recent developments around TBC Bank, a great part of MPs’ questions were just related to the construction of Anaklia port. Georgian TBC Holding associated with TBC’s Mamuka Khazaradze has been awarded the contract to build and operate deep-sea port on Georgia’s Black Sea coast in Anaklia, close to breakaway Abkhazia. In response to the lawmakers’ question, the Minister noted that if the Holding performs its obligations, the port construction will face no threat from the state.

  • MP Beselia’s initiative

On February 21, MPs discussed a legislative proposal submitted by MP Eka Beselia and eight more lawmakers on suspending lifetime appointment of city and appeals court judges until 2025.

The parliamentary debates were held amid strong confrontation among the majority MPs with part of GDDG lawmakers, including Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, slamming the proposal as “unconstitutional.” Kobakhidze accused the sponsors of the legislative proposal of having links with the opposition National Movement, triggering Beselia’s anger.

Ultimately, MPs have voted down Beselia’s legislative proposal, with 45 lawmakers voting for and 17 against. An significant number of remaining MPs were present, but did not vote.

  • Resolution on declaring the National Movement’s rule as “Saakashvili-Bokeria repressive regime”

On February 21, the Parliament discussed the draft resolution developed by the Alliance of Patriots faction on declaring the National Movement’s rule as “Saakashvili-Bokeria repressive regime.” The resolution called for bringing all key figures of “the regime” to justice within six months, as well as for punishing all perpetrators in high-profile cases. The draft resolution was voted down as only 45 lawmakers supported it and 16 voted against.

  • MPs Quit Georgian Dream

MPs Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili announced about quitting the Georgian Dream party, a day after the Parliament voted down their legislative proposal on suspending lifetime appointment of city and appeals court judges.

  • Planned amendments to the Law on Accumulative Pension

On February 22, MPs discussed the bill initiated by MP Beka Natsvlishvili on pension savings scheme. Natsvlishvili’s initiative was voted down that prompted the lawmaker to quit the Georgian Dream majority group. In protest against his colleagues who did not support the proposal, MP Beka Natsvlishvili also quit the ruling majority. Together with earlier defections, it left the Georgian Dream short of its constitutional majority in the Parliament. At least 113 lawmakers are required for any constitutional amendment to pass. After MP Natsvlishvili’s decision, the Georgian Dream has 112.

Meetings

  • On February 18, Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze met with Austrian Ambassador, Arad Benkö to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation potential.
  • On February 18, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sophio Katsarava met with Swedish Ambassador, Ulrik Tideström to discuss Georgian-Swedish bilateral relations agenda and cooperation priorities.
  • On February 19, Chairman Kobakhidze held a meeting with Charge D’Affaires of Iraq, Ali Mohan Alwan Al-Mijbilee to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation perspectives.
  • On February 19, Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with the EU Ambassador, Carl Hartzell to discuss the ongoing projects, future cooperation aspects and selection of the Supreme Court judges.
  • On February 20, Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with the Head of the EU4Justice – Judiciary Support Program, Renate Winter and the project expert, Aleš Zalar. The parties discussed justice reforms in Georgia, selection of the Supreme Court judges and future cooperation prospects
  • On February 20, the Head of the EU4Justice – Judiciary Support Program also met with MP Eka Beselia.
  • On February 21, Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Sophio Kiladze met with the Director of Democracy, Governance and Social Development at USAID Georgia, Adam Schmidt to discuss various issues, including the Code of Children’s Rights.
  • On February 21, Vice Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili met with the Head of EUMM, Erik Høeg. According to the Parliament’s press office, the parties discussed the situation at the administrative border lines.
  • On February 21, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze met foreign diplomats, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the judiciary to discuss the procedures and criteria for selecting the candidates of the Supreme Court judges. A meeting in the same format was also held on February 22.
  • On February 22, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Irakli Kovzanadze met with the IMF Mission Chief, Mercedes Vera-Martin and the IMF Resident Representative to Georgia, Francois Painchaud to discuss Georgia’s macro-economic parameters, state budget implementation, pension reform, bank oversight and other issues.

Visits

  • On February 20, the parliamentary delegation led by Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili met with NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Congressmen, lawmakers from NATO member states and top officials from the Alliance in Brussels. The parties discussed the Black Sea security challenges, NATO’s open door policy and NATO-Georgia practical cooperation priorities.
  • On February 22, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sophio Katsarava addressed the OSCE PA Winter Session, focusing on the situation in the occupied regions. On February 22, Chair of the Health Care and Social Issues Committee, Akaki Zoidze participated in the high level roundtable in Armenia.

A year passed since Archil Tatunashvili’s death

On February 22, the members of the parliamentary majority group visited the Mukhatgverdi cemetery and laid a wreath at the grave of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year-old Georgian citizen, who died at the hands of the Russian-backed authorities in Tskhinvali a year ago.

Marking Soviet Occupation

On February 23, when Georgia officially marked the Day of resistance to Soviet Occupation. Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Defense Minister Levan Izoria and some lawmakers laid the wreath at the memorial of Georgian cadets killed during the defense of Tbilisi in February, 1921. Tbilisi eventually fell to the invading Soviet army on February 25, 1921

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