PACE Monitors Conclude Tbilisi Visit

Co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlăţean (Romania, SOC), and Claude Kern (France, ALDE) met Georgian Dream and opposition MPs and Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze on December 10, concluding their fact-finding trip to Tbilisi.

In the co-rapporteur’s meeting with Georgian Dream chair MP Irakli Kobakhidze, Parliament Vice-Speaker Archil Talakvadze and lawmakers Mariam Lashkhi, Irakli Chikovani and Givi Mikanadze, the sides discussed ongoing political developments and Georgia’s reforms, the Parliament’s press service reported

GD chair Kobakhidze said that “we shared information on every issue pertaining to the domestic political developments. We covered all actual topics.” Vice-Speaker Talakvadze, on his part, said the GD lawmakers informed the monitors with their arguments and opinions which are “are grounded and reflect the reality.” 

Also on December 10, the co-rapporteurs met with MPs Akaki Minashvili and Zaal Udumashvili of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party, discussing the imprisonment of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and judicial and electoral reforms, according to the Georgian Parliament’s press service. 

“We also discussed that if we want to overcome the crisis in the country, political persecution, selective justice, and revenge must stop,” said MP Minashvili afterward, adding that the opposition lawmakers also informed the PACE monitors that jailed Saakashvili is “a victim of inhuman and degrading treatments, of persecution and vengeance.”

The lawmaker said they told the PACE monitors that anyone who has an opinion different from the government’s, opposition leaders, journalists of government-critical media outlets and activists are being “persecute on a large scale.”

“For the country to have a chance for economic development, carrying out real reforms and an independent judiciary are necessary,” said MP Minashvili, going on to criticize the GD for controversially appointing Supreme Court Judges. “Naturally, the country cannot come out of the crisis without electoral reform, [and] free and fair snap elections, in which citizens will be able to elect a government they can trust.”

The PACE Co-Rapporteurs also met lawmakers of Lelo party’s political group in the legislature, Badri Japaridze, Davit Usupashvili, Ana Natsvlishvili and Salome Samadashvili, discussing among other issues electoral and judicial reforms and the need to implement the April 19 EU-brokered deal, according to the Parliament’s press service.  

MP Natsvlishvili said “the discussion covered the steps taken by the Georgian Dream that were harmful for the country, from quitting the April 19 deal unilaterally to hostile rhetoric, politicized justice, pressure on media and political opposition…”   

Meanwhile, also on December 10, the PACE co-rapporteurs meeting with Parliament Vice-Speaker Levan Ioseliani of the Citizens party covered political polarization, judiciary and constitutional reforms.

“I told them it is very important to carry out the constitutional reform, which we had agreed on, and to set an election threshold for the next polls that political parties will [easily] be able to cross so that Parliament is diverse,” the Vice-Chair noted after the meeting.

Electoral and constitutional reforms were also the focus of the PACE monitors’ discussion with the MPs Pridon Injia and David Zilpimiani of the European Socialists party. The lawmakers told the co-rapporteurs they intend to endorse the constitutional amendments bill in its subsequent hearings, according to MP Injia. He also noted the party opposes holding snap elections, as it would “cause further turmoil” in the country.  

The co-rapporteurs also held three separate meetings – with New Political Center – Girchi MPs Hermann Szabó and Aleksandre Rakviashvili; independent lawmaker Tamar Kordzaia and MP Tamar Charkviani of Law and Justice party; and Khatuna Samnidze of Republican Party, independent MP Tariel Nakaidze and Paata Manjgaladze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli. 

Also on December 10, the PACE monitors sat down with Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze, discussing cooperation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, jointly implemented projects and ongoing reforms, according to the Prosecutor’s Office press service.

As part of the trip, the PACE monitors also met Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava, lawmakers of the Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee, Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of the civil society organizations.

The Co-Rapporteurs will submit a progress report of the monitoring, together with the relevant resolution, to the PACE for consideration and final vote at the second part of the Regular Session in Strasbourg, on April 25-29, 2022.

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