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.
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.
“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”.
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.
The Working Group at the Legal Issues Committee working on the judicial reform held a sitting with the agenda containing four issues.
According to the Chair of the Committee and the Head of the Group, Anri Okhanashvili, the Group has reconciled the positions on two issues.
“The first issue we discussed was the improvement of transparency of the election on the non-judicial members to the High Council of Justice. As we agreed, it is expedient for the election of the non-judicial members by the Parliament to make a certain record in the Rules of Procedure to ensure higher transparency and inclusiveness of the process. We agreed on yet another issue, envisaging the Conference of the Judges to, upon the election of the judicial members to the High Council of Justice, enjoy the opportunity to hear the positions of the candidates”, - he noted, adding that two out of four issues of the agenda were left unreconciled and postponed for further consideration.
“These two issues concern the election of the judicial or non-judicial members to the High Council of Justice twice in a row. The regulation, restricting the Council member to apply for the competition for the second term, has been modified since we considered it expedient to annul the restrictions for the persons with respective professional experience and skills. We failed to reconcile our positions on these two issues. Our position is that Venice Commission never mentioned that this rule shall be revised into the previous version, prohibiting the election with the second term in a row; while the civil society believes this to be true, though providing the context, it is expedient to revise this issue. We also failed to reconcile on the issue that the members of the High Council of Justice are allowed to at the same time be the Chairs of the Court, Chamber or Panel. Our position is that the international standard exists that the person going through the mobility within the Court shall carry no obligation to resign from a certain position; on the contrary, it shall be a flexible mechanism to alleviate the restrictions for the judges. In this case as well, the civil society believes that despite the international standards not binding for anyone to resign from the position of the Chair of the Court or Panel for instance in case of his/her election to the High Council of Justice, though they keep mentioning the context to be taken into account. We act according to and are guided under international standards. The Georgian jurisdiction and legislation cannot be used as a subject of the experiment, which is based on no experience”, - A. Okhanashvili stated.
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili held a meeting with the President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdulla Shahid.
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, the Speaker hailed the successful upheld of the 76th session by Mr. Shahid and expressed the supportive position of Georgia to the priorities established within the period of his presidency.
The Speaker overviewed the aspects of productive cooperation with the UN Offices in Georgia and underlined the importance of close links. Providing the global challenges, the parties highlighted the importance of the support of multilateral diplomacy, rules-based international order and active participation of women in politics. The parties discussed the grave situation in the occupied regions of Georgia.
Mr. Papuashvili thanked the Maldivian politician for the support of the territorial integrity of Georgia and the non-recognition policy by the Maldives and the UN General Assembly.
The Chairman of the Parliament, Mr. Shalva Papuashvili, with the members of the Parliament visited Georgian Border Police’s Border Sector ,,Sameba” (Akhaltsikhe Division).
Head of the Georgian Border Police, General-Major Nikoloz Sharadze and Deputy Head of Border Police, Colonel Gocha Janjgava hosted the Guests.
During the meeting General-Major Nikoloz Sharadze discussed the priorities, activities and ongoing projects of the Georgian Border Police and introduced the local border infrastructure to the delegation.
The Governor of Samtskhe – Javakheti and the representatives of the local government were attended the meeting as well.
MIA BORDER POLICE
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili met with the President of the Republic of Armenia, H.E. Vahagn Khachaturyan.
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, as the Speaker stated at the meeting, the first visit of the President of Armenia to Georgia is symbolic, which once again emphasizes the importance of the relations between the two countries.
The sides discussed the fruitful cooperation between Georgia and the Republic of Armenia in various domains. The increase in the dynamics of high-level visits was regarded as a positive development.
The sides also dwelt on the current developments in the region and discussed the steps taken toward establishing regional peace and stability.
The sides pledged to continue to enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries.