Georgian Charter: President Proposes Unified Goals for Short-Term Parliament, Technical Government

Speaking at the event dedicated to the celebration of Georgia’s Independence Day and attended by the general public, the diplomatic corps and representatives of the opposition, President Salome Zurabishvili presented the roadmap for resolving the political crisis and returning to the path of EU integration. She said that the October 2024 elections will be a referendum on the approval of the main provisions of this roadmap.

The President said that Georgia’s independence and its European path are inseparable and must be defended together. She said that there is no alternative to the European future for Georgia and that the Georgian society, which she said she knows, is waiting for concrete plans and “now it is my duty… and a responsibility to respond to this great expectation and to define together this path that will lead us first to ourselves and at the same time to Europe”.

This path, she said lies in the elections. The President said: “We have to approach the elections of October 26th with peace and stability! We must maintain the same level of mobilization and enthusiasm as before, while also ensuring the preservation of peace and stability” and stressed that now is not the time to succumb to nihilism, rivalry, or individual political ambitions.

She said that she had decided to announce at the Independence Day, “an action plan of sorts – the “Georgian Charter” and invited political parties to unite around this Charter, “agreeing to and pledging to fulfill all those matters necessary not only for European integration but also for the democracy of our country and the establishment of a just state.”

The steps that the signatory parties of this Charter would commit themselves to fulfill also reflect the 9 priorities put forward by the European Commission.

President called for “unity around the European future”, saying that a “unity does not mean unification of political forces” and that it should be solely centered on this Charter and its implementation. She further said that “consensus on this Charter does not require or imply a single electoral list or any other mandatory political alliances. Political parties should determine their own election tactics and strategies once they have signed the Charter—that matter is not mine.”

The signatory parties, if given a popular mandate in the elections of October 26, 2024, would commit to fulfill its objectives during the spring session and to schedule early elections for the autumn of 2025, creating the environment for free and fair elections. The technical, non-partisan government will be proposed by the President.

The Key Commitments of the Georgian Charter

  • The laws damaging to the European path will be withdrawn and abolished: the law on transparency of foreign influence, the law on repatriation of offshore assets, the law on surveillance, and several other laws.
  • All those who were penalized or detained for 2024 protests will be amnestied.
  • The justice system will be profoundly reformed:
    • Vetting will be conducted for all judges of the Constitutional Court, members of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ), all members of the Supreme Court, Chairs of the Appeals, and City Courts.
    • New judges will be appointed to alleviate case backlogs.
    • Jury trials would be extended to more categories of cases, including those of high public interest.
    • HCoJ competencies will be reduced – they won’t have disciplinary and administrative functions. The School of Justice will become independent. The judges will be appointed by the Parliament at the suggestion of HCoJ rather than directly.
  • The Prosecutor-General will be elected by the Parliament with a high threshold and will only be able to work for a single term.
  • State Security Service and the Ministry of Interior will be profoundly reformed to ensure effective parliamentary control and independence from political influence.
  • Special Investigative Service, which has the mandate for cases related to the offenses by the law enforcement bodies will be strengthened and become truly independent.
  • Anti-Corruption Agency will become an independent body with investigative rights. Its Chair will be appointed by the Parliament.
  • The independence of the National Bank will be restored, its board expanded, and unilateral decisions by the Bank Chairman, including those damaging to Georgia’s international obligations, canceled.
  • Regulatory bodies will be freed from the political influence.
  • The electoral system will be remodeled. The rules for composing the Central Election Commission and electing its Chair will be changed. The electoral threshold will be lowered, political blocks will be allowed again, party financing rules will be revised, and Georgians living abroad will have the right to participate in elections without an impediment.

President Zurabishvili said the parties have until June 1 to subscribe to these provisions and accept the Charter. She said she would be heading to Brussels, to present the Charter to the EC and hopefully restore the process of EU integration and open EU accession negotiations.

Georgian Charter – Full Text

The Georgian Charter reflects the demands and requests of society. In its essence and spirit, it also serves to take the main steps that are of existential importance to society today.

The steps, that the signatories to this Charter are undertaking the obligation to fulfill, also reflect the 9 points of the European recommendation.

These steps are:

  1. Abolition of Laws Harmful to the European Course of the Country;

We will immediately repeal all laws that contradict the European way and European recommendations. In particular, the law “on Transparency of Foreign Influence,” i.e., the Russian law, changes in the election code, the so-called wiretapping and offshore laws, and others.

We will also repeal the politically motivated cases against the demonstrators of the 2024 protests and will issue an amnesty.

  1. Liberating the Justice System and Restoring Trust;
    • Liberating the Court:
  • We will liberate the court from clan rule by verifying the integrity of judges and inspecting the origins of undocumented properties.
  • The inspection will be carried out on those judges whose politically motivated decisions have undermined trust in the court and tarnished its reputation.
  • The inspection will be carried out on all members of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Council of Justice, the Supreme Court, as well as the presiding judges of the Court of Appeals and the City Court.
  • Inspection will also be carried out on all new judges. New judges will be added to the court, which will eliminate overcrowding and eradicate term delay violations during case considerations.
  • The electronic system of case distribution in the court will be fully implemented, in order to exclude political influences in the case distribution process.
  • Judges will not be able to hold an administrative position for a second term.
  • We will strengthen the mandate of the jury court and extend its jurisdiction to cases of high public interest.
    • The Fundamental Reform of the High Council of Justice Includes:

The excessive authority will be revoked, specifically:

  • The right to initiate disciplinary proceedings, which is a mechanism for persecuting judges.
  • The right to appoint chairpersons of administrative bodies.
  • The School of Justice will be independent from the Council.
  • The procedure for selecting judges of the Supreme Court will change: the Council will inspect candidates only according to the criteria established by the Constitution. It will submit a full list to the Parliament, which will elect them.

Members of the Council will be prohibited from:

  • Holding other administrative positions.
  • Being re-elected for a second term.

Non-judge members will have influence over important decisions within the Council.

  1. Other priority steps of the reforms will involve:
    • The Prosecutor’s Office
  • The Prosecutor General will be elected with a high quorum and will only serve for one term.
  • The Prosecutorial Council will be strengthened.
    • State Security Service (SSSG) / Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA):

In order to deconcentrate power, a fundamental reform of the SSSG and the MIA will be carried out. Effective parliamentary control will be established over the activities of each institution, which will protect them from political influence.

  • Special Investigation Service

We will strengthen and grant the institution real independence, in order for it to protect the citizens’ rights during cases of violence perpetrated by the law enforcement authorities.

  • Anti-Corruption Agency
    • We will separate it from the executive power and provide it with real means. First and foremost, we will equip it with investigative powers over corruption cases.
    • The head of the agency will be elected by the Parliament of Georgia and will be accountable to the Parliament.
  • National Bank
    • We will restore the independence of the National Bank by increasing the number of board members and creating a balance between the executive and non-executive members.
    • We will exclude the possibility of adopting single-handed decisions.
    • We will abolish the order issued single-handedly by the head of the National Bank that contradicts Georgia’s international obligations.
  • Regulatory Bodies
    • We will liberate regulatory bodies from political influence and independent heads will be appointed in a democratic way.
  • Improving the Electoral System

Appropriate conditions will be created to hold free and fair elections:

The process of appointing the Chairperson of the CEC and the process of staffing the CEC will be improved, the threshold will be lowered, the possibility of creating electoral blocs will be restored, the rule of funding political parties will be reviewed, and the diaspora will be given the possibility to participate in the elections without hindrance.

Creating a New Political Reality

We, the signatories of this charter, those who will receive a mandate from the Georgian people in the elections of October 26, 2024, undertake the obligation and give the promise to fulfill the steps outlined in this Charter before the end of the very first spring session. Upon completion of these steps, snap parliamentary elections will be prepared and held in a free and fair environment.

Furthermore, we promise that the government, which will be responsible for executing this action plan, will be nominated by the President of Georgia.

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


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