GEORGIA - Revision of the Constitution - Statement by the Venice Commission President Gianni BUQUICCHIOSaturday, 02 September 2017 11:58
Strasbourg, Council of Europe – The revision of the Constitution of Georgia is a major reform meant to transform the current political system into a genuine parliamentary democracy.
In June this year, the Venice Commission issued a positive assessment of the draft revised Constitution, including the declared move towards the fully proportional system of the election of all the members of Parliament. Moreover, we specifically welcomed active co-operation and the commitment of the Georgian parliament not to adopt any amendments negatively assessed by the Venice Commission.
Therefore, the postponement of the introduction of the proportional system to 2024, as well as the repeated failure of the Georgian parties to reach consensus on the revised Constitution through negotiations is disappointing.
The meeting on 6 September 2017 in Strasbourg has been cancelled. I would like to stress that it is essentially up to the Georgian parties themselves to conduct further negotiations and the involvement of the Venice Commission is not required for this process. We encourage all the parties to come to a large consensus on the text through constructive dialogue.
We expect to receive shortly the revised draft of the Constitution from the Georgian authorities and will issue an opinion on it in one month, at the October plenary session (6-7 October in Venice). We encourage the Georgian parliament, before finally adopting the revised draft, to make changes in the light of this opinion and of the dialogue with all Georgian political parties.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met today in Batumi with President Gianni Buquicchio of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
The parties discussed the constitutional amendments initiated by the ruling team, which seek to put in place a well-balanced constitution grounded in democratic principles.
According to the Prime Minister, these amendments, developed based on unprecedented public debates by the Constitutional Commission bringing together politicians, NGOs, and independent experts, will enable Georgia to have a constitution that ensures a comprehensive parliamentary model of government, greater effectiveness of the government, better defined functions of the president as a neutral arbiter, and stronger protection of human rights and society as a whole.
The conversation also involved the date of switchover to proportional representation planned in 2024. The Prime Minister emphasized the fact of the introduction of proportional representation being a demonstration of the ruling team's political will, it is a great achievement, as this issue never even was on the table under the previous governments.
The meeting was also attended by Georgia's Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Speaker of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, and parliamentary majority leader Archil Talakvadze.
The meeting between the Georgian Prime Minister and the President of the Venice Commission was held under the 17th Congress of European Constitutional Courts in Batumi.
According to Gianni Buquicchio, the President of Venice Commission, the general constitution of Georgia corresponds to the international standards, but it needs to improve.
As he said after the meeting with Irakli Kobakhidze, he welcomes the readiness of the Speaker of Parliament, the concerns and opinions of Venice Commission to be provided in the changes of constitution.
"I am a friend of Georgia. I have been here many times for the past 20 years. Being Italian, I understand the Georgian mentality, our properties, our problems, we understand each other well,”-he said.
The Venice Commission Delegation, with invitation by the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Mr. Irakli Kobakhidze, is serving the working visit to Georgia on January 20.
The Delegation, chaired by the President of the Venice Commission, Mr. Gianni Buquicchio, will hold the meetings with the Chairman of the Parliament, the representatives of the executive and legislative authorities and the President of Georgia. On the first day of the visit, the Commission will visit the Parliament to meet with the Chairman.
The Venice Commission will also meet with the representatives of the Factions “Patriots of Georgia” and the Minority Factions.