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Parliament Weekly: April 8-12

Grilling of NBG chair continues - Beselia Supreme Court bill tanks - Sexual harassment sanctions to toughen - Land ownership bill clears committees - 9 April commemorated

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Parliament’s extraordinary plenary session

By decree of the President of Georgia, an extraordinary plenary session of the Parliament was held on April 8 where MPs continued hearing of President of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), Koba Gvenetadze.

At the session, lawmakers also voted in favor of the amendments to the Law on General Education, envisaging the abolition of school graduation exams.

Committee hearings

  • Legal Issues Committee

On April 11, the Legal Issues Committee deliberated, among other issues, on the package of amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts with its first hearing. The package was initiated by independent MP Eka Beselia and 12 more lawmakers.

MP Eka Beselia explained that the bill aims at establishing an independent and effective justice system and improving the procedures of election of the Supreme Court judges. The committee members did not support the bill.

  • Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee

On April 11, the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee deliberated, among other issues, on the ruling majority-initiated package of amendments to the Labor Code of Georgia. The bill aims at regulating the issue of sexual harassment in labor relations.

In addition, along with defining sexual harassment in public places, the bill envisages sanctions once the fact of sexual harassment is established.

  • Legal Issues and Human Rights Committees

On April 11, the bill on ownership of agricultural lands was discussed at a joint sitting of the Committees for Legal Issues and for Human Rights and Civil Integration. The bill was presented by MP Otar Danelia, chair of the Agrarian Issues Committee. He explained that the bill aims to establish property rights to an agricultural land with full observance of public and private interests; to promote the state policy on sustainable land management; to protect national security policy and develop local farming.

According to the initiated amendments, an agricultural land may be owned by the state, autonomous republic, municipality, legal entity of public law, Georgian citizen, legal entity of private law registered in Georgia on condition that a Georgian citizen or any above mentioned entity is a dominant partner.

According to the bill, a dominant partner shall mean a partner or group of partners of a legal entity of private law registered in Georgia, who owns over 50% of shares and/or represents the majority of partners or founders/members and has a practical possibility to decisively influence the legal entity’s decision.

Considering the remarks voiced at the hearing, the committees decided to discuss the bill at a plenary session.

The bill initiated by 32 lawmakers on amendments to the Labor Code of Georgia and to the Law on Accumulative Pension was also discussed at the same sitting. The bill was presented by one of its sponsors, MP Beka Natsvlishvili. The committee members did not support the package of amendments.

Visits

  • On April 8, Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze attended the 140th IPU Assembly on “Parliament as the Platform to Enhance Education for Peace, Security and the Rule of Law” in Doha. As part of his visit, Speaker Kobakhidze met Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, discussing bilateral and multilateral relations. It was decided in Doha that in 2020, Georgia will host the 7th Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians.
  • On April 8-12, the parliamentary delegation led by First Vice Speaker, Tamar Chugoshvili visited Strasbourg to participate in the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). As part of her visit, Chugoshvili met with PACE President, Liliane Maury Pasquier; Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland; Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, as well as PACE Co-rapporteurs on Georgia.
  • On April 10, Anri Okhanashvili, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Sophio Kiladze, Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, and Giorgi Kakhiani, Chair of the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee, visited Germany upon invitation of the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ). As part of the visit, the Georgian delegation met with Chair of the G10 Commission, Andreas Schmidt, as well as German counterparts.
  • On April 10, OSCE PA held a bureau meeting in Denmark presided by Georgian MP, OSCE PA President Gigi Tsereteli. OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger and President of Albania, Ilir Meta also participated in the sitting. According to the Georgian Parliament’s press office, Tsereteli raised the issue of reflecting the crimes committed in the occupied regions and the human rights situation of locals in the OSCE resolution.
  • On April 10, the parliamentary delegation led by Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili held meetings in Geneva with the representatives of the UNHCR, IMO and IPU.
  • On April 11, Irine Pruidze, member of the Georgian Parliament’s permanent delegation, addressed the PACE spring session. MP Nino Goguadze of the parliamentary majority also addressed the session, focusing on Russia’s occupation of its neighboring countries and violation of CoE principles by it.
  • On April 12, Sophio Katsarava, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, who paid a working visit to the United States, met with Senator Roger Wicker and discussed Georgia-U.S close bilateral relations, reforms implemented by Georgia on its path towards NATO integration, Georgia’s sovereignty, situation in the occupied regions and deepening of inter-parliamentary relations.
  • On April 12-14, Head of the Parliamentary Delegation to NATO PA, Chair of the Defense and Security Committee Irakli Sesiashvili participated in the NATO PA 99th Rose-Roth Seminar in Turkey.

Meetings

  • On April 10, Chair of the Sports and Youth Issues Committee, Mikheil Kavelashvili held an introductory meeting with the newly appointed Ambassador of Swiss Confederation, H.E. Patrick Franzen. According to the Parliament’s press office, the parties discussed Georgia-Switzerland parliamentary cooperation and Swiss investments to Georgia.
  • On April 10, Chair of the Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee, Beka Odisharia met with Chief of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission to Georgia, Sanja Celebic Lukovac. According to the Parliament’s press office, the sides discussed future cooperation plans.
  • On April 12, First Deputy Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Beraia met NATO Liaison Officer in Georgia, Rosaria Puglisi to discuss NATO-Georgia cooperation mechanisms.
  • On April 12, First Vice Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili participated in the event World in Turbulence: Challenges and Advantages held within the Young Global Leaders’ Summit of the World Economic Forum. According to the Parliament’s press office, Chugoshvili touched upon the challenges facing Georgia, as well as the country’s global role and importance. She named Russia and the problem of occupation as Georgia’s primary challenge.

Other events

  • April 9

Georgian lawmakers commemorated the tragedy of April 9, 1989, when Soviet special forces dispersed peaceful protesters on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, killing 16 on the spot and fatally wounding 4 more, who have succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.

30 years have passed since the tragic events of April 9.

  • The Parliament’s chamber of plenary sessions named after Zviad Gamsakhurdia

Paying an official visit to Doha on April 9, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze offered to name the chamber of plenary sessions after Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first President.

  • Zurab Zhvania’s commemorative star plaque placed in Strasbourg

On April 10, a star plaque commemorating late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was opened in front of the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.

His famous phrase “I am Georgian, therefore I am European” are also inscribed in the star. Zhvania said these words at the PACE session after the Assembly supported Georgia’s accession to the Council of Europe.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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