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Parliament Weekly: March 4-8

On March 4, the parliamentary bureau discussed a number of issues put on the March 5-7 plenary agenda and took note of the information by the parliamentary majority on secession of Levan Gogichaishvili, Beka Natsvlishvili, Zviad Kvachantiradze, Gia Zhorzholiani and Mirian Tsiklauri from the majority group.

Plenary sessions

  • The Bill on setting up the National Security Council

On March 5, the Parliament’s plenary session was opened with MPs’ statements. Later, the lawmakers discussed the Bill on setting up the new National Security Council in its second hearing.

Natia Mikeladze, the government’s parliamentary secretary, who presented the bill, noted that the remarks made by lawmakers during the first hearing on informing the President were taken into consideration.

Addressing the MP criticism regarding f the President/Commander-in-Chief not being the permanent member of the NSC, she noted that the consultations with the President’s office were held a new formulation was found, foreseeing the possibility of the President’s nominee being present at the NSC sessions.

MP Irakli Abesadze of the European Georgia said this correction did not amount to much, since according to the draft, the Prime Minister already had the authority to invite any person to the NSC session.

  • Salome Zurabishvili delivered her first annual state of the nation address in the Parliament

On March 6, Salome Zurabishvili delivered her first annual state of the nation address in the Parliament. Her address focused on the country’s domestic and foreign policies, as well as recent political developments in the country.

MPs of the United National Movement and European Georgia did not attend the President’s address as a sign of protest against electoral violations identified during the recent presidential elections.

  • Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture on the Floor

On March 7, Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Levan Davitashvili reported to the Parliament on the Ministry’s performance and future plans.

Final meeting on the Supreme Court judicial candidates selection criteria

On March 6, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze held a final meeting with foreign diplomats, parliamentary opposition and representatives of the judiciary to discuss the bill on the procedures and criteria of selecting the Supreme Court judicial candidates.

Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili said that the bill ensures transparency of the process of selecting candidates and meets the CoE recommendations. He also noted that the bill will be officially submitted for the Parliament’s review in the near future.

Eka Beselia’s initiative on the rule of selecting judges

MP Eka Beselia, who recently quit the parliamentary majority, unveiled her own initiative on the rules and criteria of selecting judges at a news briefing on March 7.

The bill is signed by 13 lawmakers, including those who recently quit the parliamentary majority. Some lawmakers of the Alliance of Patriots party are among the signatories as well.

Beselia noted that the bill on selecting judges guarantees a high degree of transparency.

She also explained that everyone is eligible to participate in the open competition if the standards envisaged under the law are met. A person aged at least 30, with legal education and relevant professional experience will have to fill out a special questionnaire prepared, as Beselia noted, by the Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary. Afterwards, the list will be discussed by the High Council of Justice and submitted to the Parliament.

MP Beselia said that the main vetting process will start in the Parliament, where an ad hoc group composed on professional grounds will work. The group will be in charge of collecting detailed information on candidates and submitting it to a relevant committee. To be approved, the candidate would require – according to the proposal – support of the qualified majority  of MPs (i.e. more than a usual half of present and voting).

Committee hearings

  • Zurab Abashidze reported to the Foreign Affairs Committee

On March 4, Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia and Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Russia, Zurab Abashidze reported to the foreign affairs committee. Despite the opposition lawmakers’ criticism, the sitting was held behind the closed doors.

According to the Parliament’s press office, the issues of occupied territories, non-recognition policy, Geneva International Discussions, “Abashidze-Karasin” format and Georgia-Russia WTO Agreement of 2011 were discussed.

  • TBC Bank founders report to the Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee

Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, founders of TBC Bank, reported to the Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee on March 4. During the presentation and question-and-answer session, Khazaradze offered some striking details of an unfolding scandal around TBC Bank.

During the committee sitting, Khazaradze spoke of the “orchestrated attack”, “blackmail” and “threats” by politicians and public officials, directly accusing the Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

  • Draft Code on the Rights of the Child

On March 4, Sophio Kiladze, chair of the Parliament’s Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration, presented the draft Code on the Rights of the Child to the joint sitting of nine committees.

Kiladze said that the draft code recognizes the rights of the child as follows: dignity of the child, life, salvation and development, prohibition of discrimination, etc. She also explained that new services will be created to render assistance to child victims.

Kiladze noted that a special council will be set up to monitor the issues related to the rights of the child. All the committees supported submitting the draft code to the Parliament’s plenary session.

  • Healthcare Minister reports to the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee

On March 5, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, David Sergeenko reported to the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee. According to the Parliament’s press office, the Minister reported on his agency’s vision, implemented measures and future plans.

Sitting of the commission on selecting candidates for GPB’s Board of Trustees membership

On March 4, the Parliament’s competition commission selected the candidates for membership of the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees. Three of eight candidates participating in the competition – Mikheil Chikviladze, Manana Gogoberidze and Nino Mindiashvili – were submitted to the Parliament for approval.

Meetings

  • On March 5, Chair of the Permanent Parliamentary Open Governance Council, Irine Pruidze hosted the members of the Canadian Parliamentary Center visiting Georgia, the President and CEO, Jean-Paul Ruszkowski and the Director of the Partnership and Program Development, Ivo Balinov, as well as the Ambassador of Canada, H.E. Chris Cooter. According to the Parliament’s press office, the parties discussed importance of OGP and the progress achieved in this direction.
  • On March 5, First Vice Speaker, Tamar Chugoshvili participated in the meeting “Tech4Equality” echoing the topic of the International Women’s Day 2019 – “Acknowledge Equality, Build Reasonably, Use Innovations for Changes”. Chugoshvili spoke about gender equality in science and technology, noting that due to insufficient support and stereotypes, women are insufficiently engaged in the field of science and technology and said this should be changed.
  • On March 5, First Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nino Goguadze addressed the PACE Committee for Culture, Science, Education and Media and spoke about media literacy programs in CoE member states, as well as disinformation and propaganda threats, awareness of the society, best experience of European countries, social media etc.
  • On March 5, the Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee hosted the delegation of the Region of Catalonia and discussed the issues of development and decentralization of Georgian regions.
  • On March 6, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with German Ambassador, H.E. Hubert Knirsch to discuss the ongoing developments in the country and future cooperation. Levan Kobiashvili, member of the Sports and Youth Issues Committee, also held an introductory meeting with the German Ambassador.
  • On March 6, Sophio Kiladze, chair of the Parliament’s Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration, met with the representatives of NGOs to discuss cooperation issues.
  • On March 6, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with UNDP international expert for parliamentary development, Jonathan Murphy and EU/UNDP project manager, Sophie Guruli.
  • On March 6, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with the Director of Democracy, Governance & Social Development at USAID Georgia, Adam Schmidt and the USAID/PROLoG administration to discuss the changes within the 4th wave of the judicial reform and cooperation prospects.
  • On March 7, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili met with the Head of CoE Georgia Office, Cristian Urse to discuss enforcement of ECHR decisions by Georgia, the 4th wave of the judicial reform and future cooperation prospects.
  • On March 7, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sophio Katsarava and the Chief of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Government, Natalia Jaliashvili met with the Polish Ambassador, H.E. Mariusz Maszkiewicz.
  • On March 7, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze attended the presentation of the new initiative by Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze – “Education – Road to Freedom”.
  • On March 7, the Thematic Inquiry Group on Disinformation and Propaganda at the Foreign Relations Committee held the first working meeting with NGOs and research organizations. According to the Parliament’s press office, the parties outlined cooperation format and discussed the terms for the organizations to submit their positions. 26 organizations confirmed their commitment for cooperation.
  • On March 8, First Vice-Speaker and Chair of the Gender Equality Council, Tamar Chugoshvili held the meeting with the representatives of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UN Women to discuss aid rendered for capacity building of the Parliament and its outcomes.

Zhiuli Shartava Hall opened at the Parliament

The Zhiuli Shartava Hall was opened at the Parliament on March 7. Zhiuli Shartava, late Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, who was arrested and killed in 1993, as the Georgian government lost control of Sokhumi to the secessionist forces. The Hall was opened by Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.

Thematic Inquiry Groups Planned in the Parliament’s Gender Equality Council

On March 8, the Parliament’s Gender Equality Council organized an event on a topic “Parliamentary Oversight for Women’s Economic Empowerment.” Chair of the Parliament’s Gender Equality Council, Tamar Chugoshvili acquainted the participants with those directions, which, according to her, would make an important contribution to women’s economic empowerment. Among them she listed women’s participation in the state economic programs and access to vocational education.  Two thematic inquiry groups will be set up to work on these issues.

100th anniversary of the Constituent Assembly

A final sitting of the commission on the 100th anniversary of Constituent Assembly of the First Republic of Georgia was held at the Parliament on March 8. Chair of the commission, MP Giorgi Volski acquainted the commission members and journalists on the schedule of the anniversary events.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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