Transparency of Foreign Influence bill officially withdrawnFriday, 10 March 2023 14:06
The People’s Power-tabled Transparency of Foreign Influence bill has been officially withdrawn. Thirty-five MPs voted against passing the bill with the second reading, while one lawmaker voted in favor. A total of 112 MPs underwent registration.
The parliamentary majority on Thursday decided to withdraw the Transparency of Foreign Influence bill following the consultations between the ruling Georgian Dream political council and the People’s Power parliamentary faction.
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili explained that the initiators of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) also withdrew the bill.
MEETING OF SHALVA PAPUASHVILI WITH THE EU AMBASSADOR AND THE AMBASSADORS OF THE EU MEMBER STATESThursday, 02 March 2023 10:18
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili held a meeting with the EU Ambassador and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States for deliberation on the Draft on Transparency of Foreign Influence, and the Act on Registration of Foreign Agents.
As the Speaker noted, at the meeting the concerns have been discussed that are expressed concerning the hereof Drafts.
“We have already discussed it and I understand that the concerns may exist, especially since these discussions are themselves stigmatized. The fact is that we have initiated an exact copy of the American Act and even the Law was titled not American but Russian. The discussion is becoming absurd and we understand that some forces try to stigmatize the discussion. Despite the immense wave of stigmatization, we have held long conversations about the importance of transparency, similar to our yesterday’s meeting with NGOs; we have achieved an understanding that transparency concerning the actors engaged in the formation and adoption of the political decisions is a request of our citizens and the Parliament is assigned to ensure the realization of this request. We discussed these needs, declaring that we intend to submit these Drafts to Venice Commission for its opinions; meanwhile, we have time plenty to hold other discussions”, - the Speaker stated and hoped that the civil society will actively cooperate with the Parliament instead of imposing stigmas and taboos, to eliminate the legal gaps related to insufficient transparency.
“I do hope that the civil society, instead of imposing taboo on the discussion concerning transparency, will demonstrate that they feel confident and powerful in this issue and that they are right and like they speak behind the closed doors, they consider that transparency is important and the degree of transparency we have today is not sufficient, and I hope they will get actively engaged in these issues and cooperate with the Parliament to ensure transparency and eliminate the gap in our system. All actors participating in the formation of the political decisions, state institutions, parties and public officials are transparent in their finances and the only actor – the non-governmental sector – is opaque in this regard, more precisely, such organizations manifest various types of transparency and this gap shall be eliminated”, - he added.
Administration of the Parliament
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI INTRODUCED THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO IPUThursday, 23 February 2023 11:57
“Last year, Kigali, Rwanda hosted the IPU on October 11-16; the Georgian Parliamentary Delegation attending the event was represented in the full composition of the Majority and Opposition MPs”, - the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili stated at the plenary session when introducing the Annual Report of the Parliamentary Delegation to IPU.
As Speaker Papuashvili noted, the Assembly was attended by up to 125 countries and about 600 MPs. The attendees deliberated on the threats posed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and the non-recognition policy.
“The Assembly was attended by up to 125 countries and about 600 MPs, including 40 Speakers. We had an opportunity to meet with the Parliamentary Delegations of 19 countries from 4 continents; we as well held meetings with 14 Speakers, including the Parliamentary Delegations from Korea, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Australia, Rwanda, Malawi, Fiji, Seychelles, Tanzania, Guyana, Serbia, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini, Chile, India, Jordan, and Great Britan. We also held a meeting with the Parliamentary Delegation of Ukraine headed by the Vice-Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada. At the meetings, we deliberated on the threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as the non-recognition policy. It’s crucial to take advantage of the attendance at such assemblies to establish direct contacts with our colleagues, with which we may not share close geographical communication”, - the Speaker stated.
As he noted, the agenda of the Assembly also included the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The attendees adopted the Resolution condemning the illegal invasion of Russia into Ukraine.
MEETING OF SHALVA PAPUASHVILI WITH THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE OF SPAINTuesday, 21 February 2023 11:10
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili held a meeting with the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate of the Kingdom of Spain; at the meeting, the Georgia-Spain close cooperation has been positively estimated.
The Speaker expressed his gratitude to Spain for supporting the territorial integrity and European aspirations of Georgia.
“We highly appreciate the assistance and support of Spain in terms of the facilitation of our territorial integrity and the non-recognition policy. The support of Spain is expressed not only in words but in deeds by participating in the EU Monitoring Mission”, - Speaker Papuashvili noted and dwelt on the progress of Georgia in compliance with the EU recommendations hoping that the Parliament will have fulfilled all the recommendations within the spring session.
According to the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Antonio Gutiérrez Limones, the Spanish Delegation is composed of members of various political groups, though all of them strongly support the EU candidacy for Georgia.
“When Spain assigns the EU presidency in the second half of 2023, it will serve as an additional trigger for granting the EU candidacy to Georgia, which is the will of the President of the Senate of the Kingdom of Spain as well. We recognize Georgia as a part of Europe”, - he stated.
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI: GEORGIA SHALL LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF FREEDOMTuesday, 27 December 2022 15:13
"Your Excellencies, I would like to express my gratitude to you for your efforts, for standing in for Georgia throughout the world and defending our country's interests. Think upon the Parliament as your ally” - the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili stated at the opening of the Ambassadors Conference 2022.
The Speaker gave a welcome speech to the attendees of the annual convention of Georgia's diplomatic missions overseas. The Speaker focused on the security environment, regional and global concerns, and Georgia's foreign policy priorities. He claimed that 2022 was a challenging year for international relations and that it was in this challenging environment that Georgia had to focus on preserving its borders, growing its alliances, and fostering regional stability, security, and prosperity.
The Speaker focused on the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia and the efforts made by the state on this path. Shalva Papuashvili thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the heads of Georgian diplomatic missions abroad for their work.
"The relationship between Georgia and the EU in 2022 will go down in history. The European perspective that is acknowledged by the European Union has securely sealed for the future Georgia's long-cherished sovereignty and independence, which is the legacy of our ancestors and generations. The state was well-prepared to take on this challenge. The entire nation got engaged after the application for EU membership was submitted. We were able to independently complete the membership application in the least amount of time possible because state agencies and civil employees operated at the highest level. We carry out the EU's proposals with the same level of accountability. We made a significant effort, analyzing the legislative frameworks and practices of Georgia and other nations, initiating, debating, and adopting essential amendments with the help of the Georgian Parliament, state institutions, and civil society. In 2022, the Georgian Parliament passed 30% of the laws necessary to implement the EU's recommendations. We will conclude a number of documents at the spring session, including the draft laws that were given to the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for review. We anticipate that the European Union will recognize this work in a proper manner", - Shalva Papuashvili remarked.
SPEECH OF SPEAKER SHALVA PAPUASHVILI AT FIRST PARLIAMENTARY SUMMIT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMEA PLATFORMWednesday, 26 October 2022 10:23
Speech of Speaker Shalva Papuashvili at First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform
Zagreb, 25 October 2022
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am glad, even if with heavy heart, to speak to you at the first Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform among like-minded friends and partners of Ukraine in the period of the most difficult security challenges of modern times.
On February 24, the Ukrainian people woke up under the rain of rockets. This may have caught many people in the West by surprise. But unfortunately, we, Georgians, Moldovans, Ukrainians, have known this all too well for many years now. Georgian people experienced this ruthless invasion in 2008, which is well known, but also in the early 1990s in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.
We have seen Russian tanks raiding Georgian villages and Russian airplanes bombing our hopes for the better future. We have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people expelled from the homes of their ancestors, escaping the massacre and ethnic cleansing, and finding shelter for their children and loved ones inside the cold walls for many months and years.
There is only one answer from us, which is the same answer we had to Russian invasion in Georgia: we strongly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexations of its regions.
Russia must recognize Ukraine’s territorial integrity; must withdraw from the occupied territories; and must respect Ukraine’s independence.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our experience of the invasions of 2008 and the 1990s provides us with at least three lessons:
First, documenting all crimes of the aggression is key in serving justice and curtailing any temptation for others for similar aggression, no matter being part of the Rome Statute or not. Georgia co-authored the application to investigate Russia’s activities in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. Winning the legal battle matters in the long run.
Second, maintaining unity and solidarity of international community matters until the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and of others similarly violated by Russia, is fully restored. Otherwise, Russia will not stop its military adventurism in its neighborhood and beyond. We voiced our solidarity to Ukraine in all major international organisations, and will continue to do so in future. Georgia also will not allow using Georgia’s territory and financial system to ease the effect of, undermine or avoid the existing international sanctions imposed after February 24.
And third, the international community must insist on upholding the fundamental principles of international law. Violating the principle of territorial integrity by force is unacceptable and may only lead to the undermining of the international order. We have seen that neglect of aggression in the past has generated new tremors in the international system, which are more difficult to deal with now than in their early stages.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Georgia’s support to Ukraine is unconditional and timeless. We stand by the Ukrainian people, despite the fact that Georgia itself is under the existential threat as our own historic regions have been long occupied by Russia. We will not swerve from this commitment in the name of both Georgian and Ukrainian peoples.
I wish Ukraine strength and victory in this epic fight for freedom and independence. Georgian people and government will always be with you.
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI: THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO YET AGAIN SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR UKRAINETuesday, 25 October 2022 17:00
"The Parliamentary Delegations will have the opportunity to yet again show their support for Ukraine on the International Crimea Platform”, - the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, who, attending the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform in Croatia along with the Parliamentary Delegation, stated.
According to the Speaker, Georgia is well aware of what Russian aggression means and how important it is to respond appropriately from the international community.
"As for our delegation and my speech, based on the experience of Georgia, we will focus on the meaning of Russian aggression, possible improper response of the international community at the time, and the correct response to Russian aggression. We are a country that has experienced Russian aggression several times and we know very well what the right reaction should be. Based on our experience, we will dwell on what solidarity with Ukraine should mean”, - Shalva Papuashvili stated.
The Speaker is expected to address the participants of the session of the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform.
43 delegations of 32 parliaments, 5 international parliamentary organizations and 26 parliament chairpersons are participating in the Platform.
As part of the visit, bilateral meetings of the Speaker and the Parliamentary Delegation are also scheduled.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia is composed of the Vice Speaker, Archil Talakvadze and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nikoloz Samkharadze.
ADDRESS OF THE SPEAKER, SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO THE PACE PRESIDENT, TINY KOXMonday, 24 October 2022 11:13
The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, wrote a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Martinus Tiny Kox, stating that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in the amendment to the Resolution changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution and undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of the organisation in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. "News Day Georgia" offers this statement in full:
To the PACE President, Tiny Kox
A long-standing partnership of the Parliament of Georgia with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe allows me to address you with regards to Resolution 2463 (2022): “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, debated under the urgent procedure of the fourth part of the ordinary session. Despite our full solidarity to Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, approval of the following amendment has prevented the members of the Georgian Delegation from supporting the Resolution: “the Assembly calls on the Russian authority 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 other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili – a Ukrainian citizen and former President of Georgia)”.
We believe that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in this amendment (a) changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution, and (b) undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of organization in upholding human rights, democracy and rules of law across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights issued over 100 judgements during Mr. Saakashvili’s rule, including 13 cases on Article 2 (right to life), 34 cases on Article 3 (prohibition of torture), 15 cases on Article 5 (right to liberty and security), and 44 cases on Article 6 (right to a fair trial). Moreover, the Court underlined in its Alexander Girgvliani murder case (Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia) that Mr. Saakashvili hindered an effective investigation and appropriate punishment.
The Report on Human Rights Development in Georgia in 2004-2012 made by Mr. Thomas Hammamberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in 2013 is a testament to systemic violations of the Convention-related rights during Saakashvili’s presidency. It identifies an alarming situation in areas of judiciary, penitentiary, law enforcement, rights of minorities, rights to take part in public affairs, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and social justice. Mr. Saakashvili has been convicted in Georgia in two criminal cases (the one on the above-mentioned Girgvliani case and the other on organizing an attack against opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili).
Three other criminal cases are pending (on the exceeding and abusing of official powers during the breaking up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007, and the subsequence seizure of Imedi TV, an independent television broadcaster; on embezzlement of funds from the State Protection Service for personal use; and on illegal crossing of the Georgian state border). The ECHR refused to accept Mr. Saakashvili’s case regarding his treatment by Georgia’s penitentiary system. ECHR has found there were no “special circumstances” in the application relating to respect for human rights, which would have required the body to continue the examination of the case.
The decision of the European Court has once again confirmed that the rights and interests of Mikheil Saakashvili were fully protected in the penitentiary system per the standards of the ECHR. Georgia has both a clear track record of protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law since 2012 and closely cooperating with the ECHR in implementing its judgements. Georgian cases to the ECHR dropped 5,5 times in 2013-2021 compared to Mr. Saakashvili’s rule in 2004-2012, owing to the progress in credibility, independence and professionalism of the Georgian courts.
This progress has been duly reflected in the Resolution 2438 “The honoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia” adopted by the Assembly during the second part of the 2022 ordinary session. Having this in mind, we believe there is no evidence of political motivations in the charges against Mr. Saakashvili other than politically-driven speculations. Therefore, the adoption of language as in amendment 4 represents an unsubstantiated challenge for the Georgian legal system, invites unjustified suspicion against our country in international fora and undermines Georgia’s reform progress in human rights and the rule of law since 2012.
More importantly, the unfounded provisions on Mr. Saakshvili jeopardize the credibility of PACE within the wider Georgian public and erode our efforts to solidify support for the ambitious reform agenda aligned with recommendations of the relevant PACE resolutions.
We remain hopeful that PACE members will in future be guided only by the best interests of the organization and its fundamental values. We stand ready to provide detailed insight on any issue of your interest about Georgia. Please, accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FIRST PARLIAMENTARY SUMMIT OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMEA PLATFORMMonday, 24 October 2022 10:57
The Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili and the Parliamentary Delegation serve the visit to Zagreb, Croatia on October 24-26 to participate in the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform.
The Speaker delivers a speech at the Summit.
The visit also includes bilateral meetings of the Speaker and the Delegation members.
The Summit is attended by 43 Delegations of 32 Parliaments, 5 international organizations and 26 Speakers. The program includes the plenary session and the panels.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia is composed of the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, Vice-Speaker Archil Talakvadze and the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nikoloz Samkharadze.
THE SPEAKER SIGNED THE DRAFT CHANGES TO THE CRIMINAL CODE OF PRACTICEWednesday, 14 September 2022 13:57
“There are no legal or expediency arguments that can impede the enactment of the hereof Law and hence, I signed the Law”, - the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili stated at the extraordinary briefing speaking about the process of the development of the Law and the Presidential veto.
He underlined that similar to Mme. Zourabichvili, who had no legal remarks concerning the Law, nor Venice Commission detected incompliance of the draft with the ECHR standards.
“As you may know, the President used her right of veto to the hereof Law on June 23, calling it a political veto and thus, underlining the fact of absence of the legal remarks towards it, however, she considered the adoption thereof as politically inexpedient due to the criticism by certain groups concerning the pace of the consideration of the hereof Law and the engagement of the parties concerned. Subsequently, the President addressed the Venice Commission appealing to provide their opinions regarding the Law. On August 26, the Venice Commission promulgated its opinions regarding the Law. Similarly to the Presidential veto, the Venice Commission failed to detect any contradictions to the European or international standards on human rights. At that, Venice Commission, based on their interviews with certain actors in Georgia, reiterated the opinion about the pace of the adoption of the Law and the engagement of the parties concerned. I hereby provide the perception, which has been unfortunately attempted to establish towards the hereof Law”, - he stated.
As the Speaker elucidated, the initiators have not required expedited consideration of the draft initiated on April 13, 2022, and hence, the draft has been under standard consideration procedure.
“Moreover, providing the particular interest to the Draft and based on the appeal of our partners, the consideration has been extended for 3 weeks. Eventually, the Parliament adopted the Law with the III reading in 2 months upon the initiation and providing the overcoming of veto, the Law has been adopted in 5 months, which has nothing in common with an expedited manner; All relevant state agencies, all NGOs concerned, and all international actors have been engaged in the initial consideration so in the overcoming of veto. The Draft has been under consideration not only in the Committees but at the Working Group meetings, including with the EU experts online. Every party enjoyed the opportunity and enough time to submit their contextual remarks concerning the incompliance of the Draft with any of the European or international human rights standards. You can find zero groups concerned capable of stating that despite their will to participate in the consideration, they lacked this opportunity, which has nothing in common with non-inclusiveness”.
The Speaker underlined that even 5 months after the initiation of the draft, no contextual remarks have been made that could put the compliance of the draft with any human rights standards under doubt. “On the contrary, the discussions with the local groups concerned or the international actors revealed that the hereof Law is in full compliance with the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. The consideration of the veto confirmed the absence of the answer to the reiterated question to specify the human rights standard that the hereof Law is in breach thereto”, - he noted.
The only opinion expressed concerns the expediency of the adoption of the Law, he added: “pursuant to Article 36 of the Constitution of Georgia, the Parliament is the supreme legislative body determining various directions of state politics, including the creation of the respective legal base in view of the higher efficiency of investigative actions. Hence, the issue of expediency of the adoption of the Laws is attributed to the exclusive competence of the Parliament. In sum, it took 5 months in the Parliament to discuss the hereof issue and on September 6, the Parliament ultimately confirmed its decision. Thus, there are no legal or expediency arguments that can impede the enactment of the hereof Law and hence, I signed the Law”.