Speaking with the media at the launch of USAID’s Unity Through Diversity Program on 22 November, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan remarked that the call from the EU Delegation in Georgia for Parliament to request the Venice Commission’s Opinion on the draft de-oligarchization law is “very good advice.”
She noted that coming from the EU delegation that is working with Georgia on meeting the European Commission’s recommendations, this is “very important advice,” especially since Ukraine has just withdrawn its version from the Venice Commission “so, there is currently no request to the Venice Commission to review any de-oligarchization laws, whether in Ukraine or in Georgia.”
The Amb. also reiterated that it is particularly “important and valuable to have the legal experts of the Venice Commission review” the bill before it is passed since it falls under a “new area of law.”
“This, as I said, is a very complicated and important area of law that is new,” she underscored. “Getting the opinion of the European legal experts that make up the Venice Commission would be a very useful step for the Georgian government to take for the Georgian Parliament to take before passing this law.
The EU Delegation released its statement on 21 November, urging authorities to send the de-oligarchization law, which has just passed its second hearing in Parliament, to the Venice Commission for review. Notably, the Georgian Dream party has so far expressed no plans to send the law for review to the Venice Commission.
The draft law passed the second reading in the Georgian Parliament on 16 November. The law was drafted in response to the European Commission’s recommendation on de-oligarchization and has transferred the Ukrainian de-oligarchization law to Georgia, albeit with some changes like granting the Government the ability to compile the list of oligarchs instead of the President.
Notably, the ruling party has controversially maintained that Bidzina Ivanishvili – GD founder and ex-Prime Minister – is not an oligarch, despite many contending he is the sole person the law should target.
In that context, civil society organizations, international partners, and members of the opposition have taken a critical view of the proposed law. In that latest example, the Social Justice Center (SJC) published its opinion on the implementation of de-oligarchization on 17 November, which stated that “taking into account the contextual differences” between the countries, Georgia’s adoption of Ukraine’s anti-oligarchy law, “should not be considered a reasonable step.”