Congress President condemns so-called “elections” held in occupied Abkhazia
Strasbourg, 16 March2022 - Reacting to recent so-called “parliamentary elections” held on 12 March 2022 in the Abkhazia region in Georgia, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, made the following statement:
“By organising these “elections”, the so-called “de facto” authorities of Abkhazia, once again, undermined the principle of the territorial integrity of Georgia forcing this region further into isolation, to the detriment of the local population.
The Congress has always shown its unrelenting commitment to the territorial integrity of member States within its internationally recognised borders. This principle is all the more important in the current context of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
Not only since 24 February we know that the illegal recognition of territories of other member States can be only one step ahead of further aggression and war. This is the bitter lesson we have to learn, eventually.
Therefore, all sort of action undermining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a member State, is to be strongly condemned. The so-called “elections” organised in Abkhazia fall under this category and do not recognise the illegal occupation of Abkhazia by the Russian Federation. The “vote” organised in Abkhazia on 12 March, instead of strengthening, further erodes stability in this region and is, moreover, the wrong signal at the wrong time.”
Prime Minister of Georgia meets Co-Rapporteurs for the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The key directions of cooperation between Georgia and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the agenda of Georgia’s ongoing and implemented democratic reforms were the main topics discussed at today’s meeting between Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Co-Rapporteurs for the Monitoring Committee of PACE.In the meeting held at the Government Administration, special emphasis was placed on the constructive work of the PACE Monitoring Committee’s Co-Rapporteurs for the monitoring of Georgia. The Head of Government thanked the Parliamentary Assembly’s delegation for productive cooperation.The conversation also touched on the security environment and challenges in the region and worldwide.The topics discussed included the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. The role of support from the Council of Europe for peaceful conflict resolution was underlined. Irakli Garibashvili thanked PACE for firmly supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.The meeting was attended by Co-Rapporteurs for the PACE Monitoring Committee Claude Kern and Edite Estrela, also by Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia Natalia Voutova, Georgia’s Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, and Head of the Government Administration Revaz Javelidze.
National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan took part in parliamentary elections
Today, National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took part in parliamentary elections of deputies of the Mejlis, members of the Halk Maslakhaty and Gengeshes.
Early in the morning, Hero Arkadag arrived in polling station № 48 of Kopetdag district of Ashgabat city located in specialized secondary school № 68 named after Annaniyaz Artyk for voting.
The National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan, having cast his vote for the most worthy candidate, fulfilled his civic duty and realized his constitutional right.
After voting, Hero Arkadag answered questions of numerous representatives of mass media present at the polling station.
Having underlined with satisfaction that the present historical social-political event is held in accordance with generally accepted standards of international law and Constitution of our country, the National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan wished success to the parliamentary elections.
THE PARLIAMENT HEARD THE ACTIVITY REPORT FOR 2022 OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO PACE
At the plenary session, MPs heard the Activity Report for 2022 of the Parliamentary Delegation to PACE, introduced by the Head of the Delegation, Irakli Chikovani.
“One of the acute issues for the PACE and for us was the devastation in Ukraine entailed by the Russian aggression and the decision made on the exclusion of Russia from the Coe and the preparation for a new Summit that is scheduled in May 2023 and that shall be dedicated to the planning of the further steps of the organization”, - he stated.
According to him, the Georgian Delegation was one of the main Delegations that approved the exclusion of Russia at the emergency session convened by the CoE. As noted, sundry resolutions have been adopted in 2022 related to the situation in Ukraine, where the Georgian Delegation in full composition, including the Majority and the Opposition MPs, unanimously approved the documents except one resolution providing the record about the third President of Georgia.
“This Resolution was connected neither to Georgia nor the situation in Georgia or the democratic reforms; it was an attempt, which by the way was quite successfully conducted by the EPP members and the rapporteur of the Resolution”, - he noted and added that the Resolution on Georgia initiated by the Monitoring Committee and adopted by the PACE reflects the immense progress achieved by Georgia in the democracy, rule of law and human rights protection directions.
“This progress is clearly underlined and which is unambiguously confirmed by the CoE as a whole, though it also provides the challenges in Georgia being addressed by the Government”, - the reporter ended his speech.
Georgian draft law on de-oligarchisation: Supporting the goal of limiting excessive influence of oligarchs, Venice Commission calls for systemic reforms
Strasbourg, 14.03.2023 – In its interim opinion on the draft law of Georgia on de-oligarchisation published today, the Council of Europe’s body of constitutional experts, the Venice Commission, called on the Georgian authorities to adopt systemic reforms rather than targeting specific individuals, in order to achieve “de-oligarchisation”.
“Oligarchisation” is the result of a combination of non-transparent exercise of political power without a political mandate, influence on parliaments, governments, political parties, judiciary and law enforcement bodies; ownership or influence on the media; decisive, if not monopolistic, influence on a number of areas, such as energy, mining, oil and gas, metallurgy, real estate. Eliminating such excessive influence of vested interests in economic, political and public life is a novel and very complex issue.
The Venice Commission noted that while Ukraine was the first country to adopt specific de-oligarchisation legislation, the commitment to eliminate the excessive influence of vested interests in economic, political and public life was also the object of a specific European Commission recommendation to Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. Georgia has since prepared a draft law which is very closely modelled on Ukrainian Law. Each country, however, presents specificities.
The Venice Commission supported the goal of eliminating or at least limiting the influence of oligarchs in political, economic and public life. It highlighted, however, that the choice of the means to achieve such a legitimate goal is of decisive importance if the system is to be effective while respecting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. Any such measures should be commensurate to the goal pursued of achieving a level playing field for all actors in society.
The Commission stressed that de-oligarchisation should be ensured through a systemic approach, which has a preventative effect and targets numerous fields, such as legislation relating to media, anti-monopoly, political parties, elections, taxation, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering, etc.
The Georgian draft law instead focuses on a so-called “personal” (punitive) approach, seeking to identify so-called “oligarchs” through specific criteria, such as wealth and media ownership, to publicly label them as “oligarchs” and to subject them to series of blanket limitations that include exclusion from the financing of political parties or activities, exclusion from privatisations of public property, etc. This approach, in the opinion of the Venice Commission, carries high risks of human rights violations and arbitrary application, potentially harming political pluralism. At the very least, the Commission recommended transferring the power to designate a person as an “oligarch” to another body than the Government, removing the broad discretion of the Government in interpreting and applying these criteria and providing strong guarantees for human rights, due process and effective remedies.
The Venice Commission has prepared the current opinion as an interim one, with a view of pursuing its analysis of possible solutions to this matter and taking into account further legislative developments when they are available.
MONEYVAL report on Georgia: improvements in the Financial Monitoring Service powers to disseminate information to law enforcement authorities, but other deficiencies remain
Georgia has improved its measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing; it has demonstrated good progress and has been upgraded from “partially compliant” to “largely compliant” with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Recommendation 29, related to Financial Intelligence Units, concludes the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body MONEYVAL in a follow-up report released today.
By enhancing the powers of the Financial Monitoring Service (Financial Intelligence Unit of Georgia) to disseminate information and results of analyses upon request and without a court order to all law enforcement authorities, Georgia has addressed a significant shortcoming earlier identified. Only minor shortcomings remain regarding a lack of explicit reference to require the Financial Monitoring Service to conduct operational and strategic analysis and the scope of the money laundering definition.
The report also examines a range of legislative, regulatory, and institutional measures, such as introducing a central electronic reporting for online casinos, requiring a clean criminal record for beneficial owners of casinos, making sanctions for AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism) breaches applicable to casinos, as well introducing a broad regulatory framework for the investment fund sector. However, these measures were not sufficient to upgrade the ratings of Recommendations 22, 28 or 35, as moderate deficiencies in relation to the scope of covered designated non-financial businesses and professions and the sanctioning regimes remain.
Overall, Georgia has achieved full compliance with six of the 40 FATF recommendations constituting the international AML/CFT standard and retains minor deficiencies in the implementation of 22 recommendations where it has been found “largely compliant”. Eleven recommendations remain “partially compliant” and one of them has a “non-compliant” rating (the recommendation requiring that countries review their laws and regulations to ensure that non-profit organisations cannot be abused for the financing of terrorism).
Consequently, Georgia is expected to report back to MONEYVAL on further progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures in one year’s time.