New Cabinet Led by Giorgi Gakharia Wins a Vote of Confidence in Parliament
The Government of Georgia led by Giorgi Gakharia wins a unanimous vote of confidence, with 85 votes in favor, in the Parliament.
The Cabinet features one new member, namely Gocha Lortkipanidze who will serve as Justice Minister.
The legislative body also voted in favor of the 2021-2024 Government Program: Toward Building a European State.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks to Media at Parliament
Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: Today was a great opportunity to come to Parliament with our new USAID Mission Director, John Pennell. We had a chance to talk about the many different areas of cooperation and partnership that USAID has throughout Georgia, from economic growth to energy independence, basic education, vocational education, industry-driven skills development, and of course, democracy and governance. We’ve done a lot of good work over the decades with Parliament on developing its oversight capabilities and helping to draft legislation in a number of different important ways that also protect the human rights of Georgian citizens. So, this was a wonderful opportunity to introduce our new USAID Mission Director. As the Speaker himself pointed out, much of his career has been spent in the development sector, in civil society, and so it was useful for us to exchange views on just how important of a role civil society and development organizations play in any government, especially here in Georgia where we’ve had such a long partnership over the last 30 years. I would say in that respect, some of the attacks against civil society have been particularly surprising. As many of the Members of Parliament who have worked in civil society before coming into government know, civil society plays a critical role in a healthy democracy. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to hear feedback from civil society, but that is their role. Their role is to protect the interests of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. Sometimes that feedback is uncomfortable, but they’re not there to work for the government. They’re not there to work for particular political parties. They’re there to work for the public and the rights of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. I think Georgia is fortunate to have a number of very professional, strong civil society organizations that are doing exactly that, whether it’s helping to clean the air, address climate change, or to help develop regulations that protect workers that improve communities. Civil society works across so many different sectors, and I think we should appreciate the good work that they do every day.
Question on new members of People’s Party
Ambassador Degnan: I’m not going to comment on the political developments in Georgia. I think the Georgian public can see very well what’s going on here. There is a confusing message coming from the government between aligning with those who seem to be moving to undermine the partnership between Georgia and the United States, and the statements from the Prime Minister and others about the importance of the partnership between the United States and Georgia and other strategic partners. I prefer to deal with facts. There’s plenty of disinformation and conspiracy theories out there. The facts are that for 30 years the United States has been committed to helping Georgia strengthen its security and supporting Georgia’s sovereignty. For 30 years, the United States has been supporting Georgia in developing its economy, in creating better jobs. I would say some of the good economic figures that we’re seeing in Georgia right now in part relate to the support that the United States, the EU, and other friends of Georgia provided to help cushion the outcome of the Covid pandemic and to help Georgia be in a good economic position coming out of this unprecedented situation, on top of the impact of the war or Russia’s war against Ukraine. For 30 years, the United States has also been trying to help Georgia build its democratic institutions so that the people of Georgia can have greater confidence that this country is moving toward a stronger, healthier democracy. That is what the people of Georgia have said they wanted for decades. The United States has been very proud and pleased to be able to help Georgia with all of those goals: stronger security, a stronger economy, and stronger democratic institutions. We look forward to continuing that partnership. Our meeting today with this speaker and his cabinet was a good chance to renew that partnership and to talk about the ways going forward that USAID and the US Embassy can continue to support Georgia on its path toward a Euro-Atlantic future. That’s what we all want to see: Georgia more fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family.
Question on de-oligarchization
Ambassador Degnan: The issue behind de-oligarchization in any country is how to address undue influence by anyone in the political or the economic processes of a country, anyone who’s trying to influence the operation of government and society through excess money or influence. It’s an issue that many countries grapple with, including my own. There are different ways that countries address undue influence in the political sector, and I think each country needs to debate that and come up with its own solution. I personally don’t think it’s always helpful to just borrow somebody else’s without tailoring it to the specifics of your country’s situation. There are many good examples out there that can be examined and crafted into something that is appropriate for Georgia, and the underlying problem, which is undue influence that affects the political will of the people. For instance, instead of having an election that reflects what the voters have voted, you have a distorted view because there’s been an undue influence on the process. What any law like this is meant to do is to try to ensure that there is transparency, accountability, and a level playing field so that the people’s voice is heard.
U.S. Embassy Statement on Parliament Overcoming Veto on Surveillance Law
Parliament’s decision to intentionally pass wiretapping legislation that expands the government’s ability to monitor its citizens does not comply with European standards and is against the clear recommendations of the Venice Commission and Western partners. This law moves Georgia away from European integration, not towards it.
THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER REPORTING TO THE PARLIAMENT FOR 2021
The Parliament heard the Report by the Public Broadcaster for 2021, introduced by the Chair of the PB Board of Trustees, Vasil Maglaperidze.
The reporter overviewed the program, context and activity priorities and informed MPs about the novelties of the broadcast network, ways of delivery of the product to the audience, platforms, program priority assessments etc. He highlighted the budget parameters and technical and technological novelties for the accounting period.
“The aspiration of Channel I is to join the Western civilization, which is inculcated through the news programs, documentaries or other material we offer to our audience”, - he noted.
After hearing the comprehensive answers, MPs their positions.
The Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Mikheil Sarjveladze, when estimating the report, stated that the “Public Defender is a platform realizing the projects without the analog, including in Georgia. The immense responsibility this institution carries is precisely fulfilled, which implies the impartial information and social programs in the direction of civil integration and education”, - he stated.
X CONVOCATION PARLIAMENT OPENS AUTUMN SESSION WITH STATE ANTHEM
Georgia's national anthem was played as the tenth convocation of Parliament opened the autumn session. According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, the Speaker of the Parliament, greeted the lawmakers at the start of the session.
"We are commencing the autumn session, and I want to start by wishing you everyone a productive session. We have a full schedule, so it's crucial that you all participate fully in the work and that we complete this meeting with as many decisions that will be beneficial as possible.
At the same time, I'd like to extend a greeting and best wishes for a fruitful and engaging session to the parliamentary media. We wish to work with you since comprehensive coverage of the Parliament's actions is highly essential to us", - Shalva Papuashvili addressed to his colleagues and journalists.
The Parliament convenes twice a year, in the spring and autumn sessions. The first Tuesday in September marks the beginning of the autumn session, which ends on the third Friday in December.
WORKING MEETING OF MEMBERS OF OPPOSITION PARTIES WITH CIVIL SECTOR
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, members of the faction "National Movement - Strength is in Unity" and political groups "Lelo - Partnership for Georgia" and "Reforms Group", as well as independent MPs, held a working meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations regarding EC’s 12 recommendations.
The parties discussed the legislative measures required for the execution of the aforementioned suggestions and gave their perspectives on each one.
"We began the implementation phase of EC’s recommendations in close collaboration with the civil sector. In all twelve directions, we summarized the current state of affairs. We talked about 4-5 themes that are being created as legislative initiatives as well as 7-8 specific draft laws. It was discovered that extra meetings are required in a number of sectors. We continue to believe that in order to accomplish this crucial phase, Georgia's forces must be united as a whole. There are a couple of issues that we have also identified where we might back a political product developed with input from members of the ruling team. The most important thing is that we begin the autumn session with serious thoughts and ideas related to this specific issue. The government's ideas and problems are welcome for discussion. Because Europe anticipates us to have solidified and agreed-upon positions, we are prone to seeking consensus", - David Usupashvili, Chairman of the political group "Lelo - Partnership for Georgia” stated.
"The work procedure is actually coming to a close. Only four topics — justice, de-oligarchization, electoral reforms, and media-related issues — will be the subject of additional civil sector perspectives next week. The final text will therefore be made available to the public following the gathering of these four working groups. By the middle of September, we anticipate submitting those legislative packages to the Parliament that have not yet been registered", - Giorgi Vashadze, a member of the political group "Reforms Group" stated.
He also thanked his opposition colleagues and representatives of the civil sector for their active cooperation in the working groups and noted that this is exactly the process that Georgia needs to get the status of the European Union.
"We will uphold a document that we can call - "Mechanism for rapid accession to EU candidate status". This will be a document that we will sign with its legislative amendments", - Giorgi Vashadze added.