On 13 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution titled “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine” which condemned the fresh annexation of the Ukrainian regions by Moscow and declared the Russian regime “a terrorist one”.
At the Parliamentary Assembly, national delegations of deputies are present and they all vote in their individual capacities. 99 MPs voted in favor and 1 abstained.
Curiously, there are only two Georgian MP votes – MP Khatia Dekanoidze of the opposition United National Movement and Levan Ioseliani, from the Citizens’ Party, cast their votes in support. The ruling party MPs did not vote.
Who are in the Georgian delegation?
The Georgian Parliamentary Delegation which attended the Autumn Session and could vote was made up of:
- Four MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream: Irakli Chikovani, the head of the delegation, Irakli Kobakhidze, Givi Mikanadze, and Archil Talakvadze.
- One MP from the opposition United National Movement – Khatia Dekanoidze
- One MP from the Citizens’ Party, leaning towards the government, Levan Ioseliani.
Why did the ruling party not vote?
The ruling party apparently disagreed with the phrase in the resolution that reads:
“The Assembly calls on the Russian authorities for the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza. The Assembly also calls for a review of cases of other political prisoners opposed to Putin, in the Russian Federation and in other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukrainian citizen and former president of Georgia).”
The ruling party maintains that Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s former president and one of the founders of the United National Movement has been imprisoned following a fair trial. The UNM and most of the opposition disagree, while others in the opposition and the Public Defenders’ office point to Saakashvili’s deteriorating health condition that may serve as a precondition for his provisional release.
Where did the reference to Saakashvili come from?
This sentence was introduced into the text as an amendment. The 4th Amendment was introduced by 45 MPs, representing the wide cross-cutting of the political families. According to the voting record, 56 MPs voted for, 27 against, and 10 abstained, making this the most controversial of the passed amendments. One Georgian Dream MP, Givi Mikanadze, voted against this amendment. Others did not participate.
Most of the MPs belonging to the European People’s Party (the political family of the UNM) voted for. So did the representatives of centrist ALDE and the European Conservatives. Many, but not all members of the European Socialists (the European political family of the Georgian Dream) voted against it, although seven voted for it.
How is the voting organized?
At the PACE, MPs review the draft text, then the amendments are tabled. The Assembly either accepts the amendments by consensus, or the votes are cast. Then, the final version of the resolution is voted upon.
Voting on Resolution
MP Dekanoidze was the only deputy from the Georgian delegation who supported all the individual amendments and the overall resolution. MP Ioseliani did not participate in any other vote on the Amendments. He did, however, cast a vote in support of the overall resolution.
The Georgian Dream MPs, however, did not vote at all.
How does the Georgian Dream explain its stance?
MP Talakvadze remarked, “Georgia and the government team voted for the resolution supporting Ukraine at the meeting of the Political Committee. What happened next was certainly destructive and it was done precisely by the United National Movement and several MPs personally connected with Saakashvili. They initiated a change related to Saakashvili in this resolution which was supported by only 55 out of 600 MPs… It had a very toxic effect. I am sure that many, including Ukrainian MPs, were dissatisfied with the initiation of this change.”
MP Mikanadze, the only GD MP to have voted – against one of the amendments – underscored, “[The amendment to the resolution] once again made it clear that this was a specially introduced, provocative act, as a result of which the Citizens’ Party, Ukrainian MPs, together with the United National Movement were given the opportunity to adopt this absurd record…” “After that I left the hall since I considered the position, which the majority of people there accepted, to be absolutely unacceptable,” he stressed.
Asked about the resolution, Shalva Papuashvili, the Speaker of Parliament, slammed its inclusion of Saakashvili and took affront to him being labeled Putin’s prisoner. “This is a direct attack on the Georgian state, and of course, such a resolution will not have any support from my side and that should be clear for everyone…,” he emphasized. “Whatever the text and whatever may be written in it, when there is an attack on the Georgian state and the Georgian people, it will not have my or the Georgian Dream’s support,” he added.
The delegations head, MP Chikovani, also took issue with Saakashvili’s inclusion and said that it is “shameful for the European People’s Party that the leader of the political party associated with it [Mikheil Saakashvili] is a criminal, and therefore they are trying to cover it up with all kinds of political motives… We will never be able to convince and change the mind of the United National Movement, since the entire vertical composition [of the party] is focused on this, and Mikheil Saakashvili remains their leader.”
MP Kobakhidze refuted the claim that votes can be cast for individual amendments and the overall resolution, stating that “when the resolution is finally put to the vote, it is voted for in its entirety, taking into account all the changes that are included and reflected in it.” “I don’t know who they [United National Movement] will be able to deceive with such lies,” he added.
MP Dekanoidze retorted that “No amount of demagoguery can cover up the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted the most important historical resolution…”
She further lambasted the Georgian Dream party for not voting for a resolution that called for withdrawing Russian troops from the territories of Georgia and Moldova. “You could have easily voted against the amendment that you didn’t like, an amendment that was signed not only by Khatia Dekanoidze or Ukrainian representatives but by more than 35 deputies, members of the delegation who have a lot of influence,” she said. “Therefore, no demagogic statement, no matter what you say, can cover the shameful position that was presented by the Georgian majority in the Council of Europe,” MP Dekanoidze emphasized.
MP Salome Samadashvili, of the Lelo for Georgia party, likewise noted, “Georgian Dream decided today not to support the resolution and the record that directly declared Putin’s regime a terrorist regime. Let no one be fooled by the Georgian Dream, procedurally, they had the option not to support the amendment regarding Mikheil Saakashvili, but to support the amendments declaring Putin’s regime a terrorist regime.”
“The truth is simple, the Georgian Dream did not want to support the declaration of Putin’s regime as terrorists, and for this, they used the issue of Mikheil Saakashvili as an excuse,” she underscored.
MP Ioseliani, declared, “it was very important to support this resolution, although there was a moment there that was related to the addition about Mikheil Saakashvili, which is understandable for the Georgian Dream, it was a red line and they could not support it. However, I think they should have done what I did, supported the resolution and not supported this addition, which the Council of Europe rules allow for.”