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Georgian Politicians React to EU Statement on Court Reform Bill

On October 5, Lead Spokesperson for the External Affairs of the European Union (EU) Peter Stano slammed the Georgian Parliament’s passage of amendments reviewing the selection of Supreme Court justices without feedback from the the Council of Europe (CoE). Stano’s statement, which underscores the EU’s dismay over the court reform bill, triggered varying reactions among the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and opposition parties.

Ruling Party Reactions

“We had prior communication with our partners and they were fully informed that the fall session would close on exactly September 30,” Chairperson of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze said, emphasizing that a decision had to be made before the final plenary session of the 9th convocation of the Parliament came to a close.

“They [international partners] told us that the Venice Commission would only be able to approve of its opinions and recommendations in an October meeting,” Talakvadze underlined. “We [the ruling party] acted responsibly and waited for positions, opinions and conclusions, until the last fall session.”

Gia Volski, First Deputy Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, praised the Georgian judiciary system for achieving “a higher ranking than many democratic European courts,” and urged listeners to “not dramatize” the EU Lead Spokesperson’s remarks on the subject.

“The factor of trust in the court, which has been stated many times and I will restate it a thousand times, is high,” Volski said, adding that “there are some legal nuances which will probably be explained by the representatives of our respective committees.”

Opposition Reactions

Parliament Vice Speaker and opposition European Georgia MP Sergi Kapanadze warned the ruling GD party that its disregard of international recommendations “will lead to complete isolation from our international partners which will be a catastrophe for our national security.”

“The message from the Georgian Dream, in this case, to Western partners is that the most important thing for them is what Mr. Bidzina [Ivanishvili, GD chairman and benefactor] will say, and not what our friends [international partners] and the people will think,” Kapanadze concluded.

Alluding to GD naming EU accession as a key priority in its election program, United National Movement (UNM) MP Salome Samadashvili said that GD’s decision to push through with the court reform bill without awaiting feedback from the CoE demonstrates that the ruling party is not serious about EU membership.

“Such a [Stano’s] statement is further proof that GD is shamelessly lying and deceiving the Georgian people, because the country and the government seriously considering integration into the EU cannot ignore the recommendations of the Venice Commission,” Samadashvili stated.

MP Eka Beselia, chair of the For Justice party, underlined that she repeatedly warned GD not to push through with the court reform bill, and described the Georgian Parliament’s decision as “disrespectful” to international partners.

“This very reckless act on the part of the Georgian Dream causes further damage to trust in the judiciary, and also causes disappointment among international partners,” MP Beselia remarked.

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

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