Tuesday

20th Feb 2018

Opinion

Constitutional reform aligns Georgia with Europe

  • Georgia's new parliament building, constructed in 2012, is actually in Kutaisi, rather than the capital, Tbilisi (Photo: Georgia Parliament)

The backbone of Georgian democracy, its constitution, was adopted in 1995 during the early days after Georgia regained its independence.

Not surprisingly, today it needs important changes to catch up with and support the achievements of comprehensive reforms to Georgia's governance in the last two decades.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The proposed constitutional adjustment will create a European parliamentary democracy. It will strengthen parliament and delineate the responsibilities assigned to the various branches of government clearly.

Some 26 years ago, when Georgia embarked on the path toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration, the future was mostly unknowns. Undeterred, we adopted a wide array of deep and effective reforms that have consolidated democracy while lifting standards and quality of governance and the rule of law.

Georgia has never been closer to European standards and to the EU than today, and we continue our hard work to become a full member of the European family.

Today, the EU is busy with its internal agenda, especially at a time when Brexit is absorbing much institutional energy, yet Georgia remains committed to this path. We look forward to the reward of our citizens' efforts with unambiguous commitments and progressive steps towards deeper political and practical integration.

Finish line in sight?

We have listened closely to our colleagues in the EU who have guided our efforts. Now we ask our European partners to put this essential element – bringing Georgia in the EU – on the path to the finish line.

Ever since independence, the major flaw of Georgia's political system has been the weakness of its legislature at the expense of the executive.

The overwhelming powers of the executive branch both weakened the balance between the two branches and co-mingled the powers and responsibilities of each. Thus, the duties of the president and the cabinet are inextricably overlapping and confused, complicating the tasks of the government.

With the anticipated constitutional changes, the parliament is intended to become a stronger voice in Georgian politics.

Proportional representation, stronger parliament

These changes will include the introduction of an exclusive proportional electoral system, which will divert any threat of a too-powerful presidency in the long term and diminish political polarisation and radicalisation.

Changes will also contribute to institutionalising party politics and enhancing political dialogue. And they will strengthen legislative oversight and instil higher standards of government integrity, independence of the courts, improved tax collection, and more effective policing.

All of this adds up to enhancing Georgia's national security.

With these changes, future presidential elections will be indirect, while the separation of powers will be made clearer.

Specifically, gaps between the president's responsibilities and legitimate powers will be eliminated.

Above all, the constitutional change will transform the legislative cornerstones of human rights to a European standard. It speaks directly to the goals of enhancing entrepreneurial freedom, freedom of communications, and access to the internet. It enshrines the citizen's right to good governance.

And especially noteworthy: for the first time since Georgia regained independence in 1991, the ruling political party is voluntarily restricting its own political powers through constitutional change.

Constitutional change in Georgia is part of the larger process. It signals Georgians' commitment to making our hard-won democracy irreversible, while sinking our democratic roots more deeply into European soil. Georgia's historic reunion with Europe beckons, brought ever closer by our common political, cultural, and security objectives.

Georgia is Europe.

Dr Irakli Kobakhidze is chairman of the parliament of Georgia

EU's eastern partnership needs revival

A week before a summit with EU eastern neighbours, Sweden and Poland's foreign ministers propose "a way ahead" for the relationship that is more focused on people's needs.

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco
  2. SPD members start voting on new Merkel-led government
  3. Barroso lobbied Katainen for Goldman Sachs
  4. Berlusconi's coalition ahead with 34.7% support
  5. Moscovici: Greece '99 percent' there to get new bailout
  6. Simone Veil to enter France's Pantheon in July
  7. German poll puts far-right AfD ahead of SPD for first time
  8. Commissioners poised to join EU-Mexico trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  2. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  3. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  5. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  6. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  7. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  9. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  10. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  11. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  12. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström

Latest News

  1. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  2. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  3. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme
  4. Commissioner Katainen confirms Barroso lobbied him
  5. Eurogroup chief pledge on transparency after meeting MPs
  6. Poland shows no sign of concessions to Commission
  7. Spain's De Guindos to be ECB vice-president
  8. Conservative 'buccaneering Brexit' narrative unrealistic

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  2. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  3. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  4. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  7. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  9. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  11. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?
  12. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades