The Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party has unveiled its strategy on how to address the 12 priorities set by the European Commission for Georgia to receive EU candidate status in the short run.
The GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze suggested on July 1 that the majority of the priorities were the part of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement “which was agreed by Georgia and the EU several months ago.”
He pledged that the GD would ensure the fulfillment of the priorities in the appropriate time and manner in accordance with the following plan:
Item 1. Reducing political polarization
The first item among the conditions must be viewed as a kind of foundation for the effective implementation of the remaining 11 items. Political polarization is one of the main challenges facing our country, in view of which political discussion is hijacked by issues of secondary importance to the public that are of narrow political significance to various political entities, instead of dealing with issues of importance to the state. To change this situation, first and foremost, it is important to reduce the radical confrontation between political forces and to declare a kind of moratorium on aggressive rhetoric. Of course, we are fully conscious of our responsibility in this regard. Similarly, for the next six months, the opposition should refrain from rhetoric that implies the non-recognition of the authorities’ domestic or foreign legitimacy. The same applies to the media (which, according to the conclusion of OSCE-ODIHR, is one of the main sources of political polarization in Georgia) and nongovernmental organizations (a significant part of which is directly involved in the campaign of polarization).
In order to promote depolarization, a Polarization Monitoring Group will be set up under the Parliament of Georgia with the participation of all parliamentary parties, civil society representatives, and international partners. The group will carry out constant monitoring and present a weekly report to the public about the polarization-related situation and trends in the country. The monitoring report will reflect recommendations for political parties, media outlets, nongovernmental organizations, and other entities involved in political processes. The composition and work format of the monitoring group will be specified on the basis of consultations with parliamentary political parties and civil sector representatives.
The position held by international partners and their fair and healthy attitude toward polarizing actions will be of special significance in terms of depolarization.
The chairman of the Parliament of Georgia will ensure the coordination of the implementation of item 1. Item 2. The effective functioning of state institutions, parliamentary oversight, and election legislation
A working group will be established under the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee of the Parliament of Georgia with the participation of representatives of all parliamentary parties and the civil sector. It will provide a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Parliament’s regulations in the field of parliamentary oversight and will prepare a legislative initiative to correct any shortcomings identified.
The corresponding draft law will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 21 September and will be adopted no later than 1 November.
A working group for the revision of the Election Code will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, which will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary political parties as well as representatives of the Central Election Commission, the State Audit Service, and the civil sector. Amendments to the Election Code of Georgia will reflect, as appropriate, the recommendations provided by OSCE-ODIHR and the Venice Commission.
The corresponding draft law will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 21 September and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 13 December. The draft law will be sent to the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR for an opinion prior to passing its second hearing.
Item 3. Judicial reform, changing the procedure for the election of the general prosecutor, and the election of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice
As you know, a Judicial Reform Working Group has already been set up under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that includes the representatives of all parliamentary political parties. The said working group will actively resume its work in the coming days and prepare a strategy and action plan for judicial reform as well as a package of relevant draft laws on the basis of the in-depth analysis of the current situation in the judicial system.
The judicial reform strategy and action plan will be prepared and published by 1 October. Legislative amendments will be prepared on its basis and submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative by 1 November. As soon as the draft law is initiated, it will be sent to the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR for an opinion. The discussion of the draft law in Parliament will begin as soon as the opinions from the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR are received.
The draft constitutional law on the procedure for the election of the general prosecutor will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia by 1 September and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 29 November. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament will coordinate the adoption of the constitutional law.
The Parliament of Georgia will begin the selection process of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice no later than 30 September and voting for the election of Council members will take place no later than 15 November. We would like to remind you that the votes of 90 Parliament deputies are required to elect members of the Council. Therefore, it is the responsibility of both the ruling team and the opposition to ensure that they are elected in accordance with the conditions set out by the European Union.
Item 4. Anti-corruption measures
A working group will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that will prepare the concept of the consolidation of anti-corruption functions, as well as proposals for the further institutional strengthening of the Special Investigation Service and the Personal Data Protection Service.
The composition of the working group will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary parties as well as representatives of the Administration of the Government, the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Security Service, and the civil sector.
The relevant draft laws will be submitted to the Parliament as initiatives no later than 19 October and they will be adopted by the Parliament by 1 December.
Item 5. De-oligarchization
A working group will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that will include representatives of all parliamentary parties as well as the civil sector. The working group will work on a draft law on de-oligarchization, which will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 5 October and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 29 November.
Item 6. Combating organized crime and the oversight of law enforcement
A working group will be created under the Defense and Security Committee of the Parliament that will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary parties as well as representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the High Council of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Security Service, and the civil sector.
By 1 November, the working group will prepare an in-depth assessment of the current situation and develop proposals to remedy shortcomings and further strengthen the fight against organized crime.
Items 7 and 8. Ensuring an appropriate media environment, the effective investigation of crimes targeting journalists, and effective response to violence against vulnerable groups
The Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament, in cooperation with the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, will ensure the public availability of information about the investigation of all relevant cases.
Item 9. Gender equality and violence against women
The Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia and the Gender Equality Council will actively work toward preparing legislative proposals to promote gender equality and ensure an even more effective fight against violence targeting women.
The relevant package of draft laws will be submitted to the Parliament as an initiative no later than 5 October and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 15 November.
Item 10. The involvement of civil society in the decision-making process
The chairman of the Parliament of Georgia will coordinate the effective involvement of civil society representatives in all processes related to the fulfilment of the European Union’s conditions. Additionally, effective mechanisms of involvement will be retained even after the completion of work on the European Union’s conditions.
Item 11. Proactive consideration of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg by the Georgian court
Taking into account the enforcement procedures of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia will prepare the relevant draft law and submit it to the Parliament as an initiative by 1 September. The Parliament will consider and adopt the draft law no later than 18 October.
Item 12. Election of the public defender
The parliamentary majority will offer the parliamentary opposition an inclusive procedure for the selection of candidates for the position of public defender until 1 September. This should ensure the nomination of an individual who will be equally acceptable to the majority and the opposition and, accordingly, who will be elected to the position of public defender with a high level of legitimacy. Voting to elect the public defender will take place no later than 1 December.
We would like to remind you that the election of the public defender requires the support of at least 90 Parliament deputies. Therefore, ensuring that the public defender is elected in line with the European Union’s conditions is equally the responsibility of both the ruling team and the opposition.The European Council was scheduled to return to Georgia’s candidate status in six months.