Statement by the Parliament Chairperson
Chairperson of the parliament of Georgia Davit Usupashvili has made a special statement regarding the negotiations with the parliamentary opposition about constitutional amendments.
`Part of the political events unfolding in the past ten days took place behind the closed door, and society was provided with only a portion of information. It was necessary for the success of negotiations with the opposition. Given the situation that has emerged in the process of negotiations and legitimate public interest, it is essential to make this statement.
After several days of intensive consultations, an agreement on all issues related to constitutional amendments was reached with the opposition. The National Movement, however, refused to implement this agreement at the very last moment because of the failure to reach an agreement on another issue, the format and content of the amnesty of public officials.
Nevertheless, I would like to express my gratitude to negotiation participants: representatives of the parliamentary minority who tackled this responsible and difficult undertaking with due diligence and candor. At this stage, their personal contribution to the failure to reach desirable results in these negotiations is very insignificant. I hope that we will cooperate more productively in the near future.
Events unfolded as follows:
What we offered the National Movement (December 27):
The provision authorizing the president to form a government singlehandedly and without consent of the parliament shall be removed from the constitution.
What they offered us and what was agreed between us (February 15):
After the adoption of the agreed constitutional amendments, increase the quorum required for the adoption of any future constitutional amendments from two-thirds to three-quarters;
Include foreign policy issues in the constitution in the way and in the form as suggested by them;
Postpone voting on the constitutional amendment on the relocation of the parliament to the end of the year;
Enact only a portion of the 2010 model of the constitution so that the president would retain the right to appoint governors until the completion of his presidential term; a qualified majority would remain required to overturn a presidential veto; the complicated procedures of presidential impeachment would stand, etc.
What additional terms they raised (February 16):
Unconditional and full amnesty for all government officials – from the president to ordinary municipal staff – for all offenses committed prior to November 1, 2012, save violent crimes, crimes against constitutional governance, and other similar grievous offenses.
What we accepted (February 17):
Unconditional and full amnesty for middle and low-level government officials for all offenses committed prior to October 1, 2012, save violent crimes, crimes against constitutional governance, and other similar grievous offenses;
Partial amnesty for top-level senior officials, by authority of which they will be exempt from criminal liability provided that they plead guilty and consent to five-year prohibition to hold public office, such as those of the president, members of the parliament, ministers and their deputies, heads of large ministerial agencies, governors, heads of local self-governments, members of the Council of Justice and other similar central institutions, officials of the representative branches of local self-government (Sakrebulo), judges, senior officials of the Prosecutor’s Office, and other officials defined by the Law on Conflict of Interests.
Their final offer (February 18):
Unconditional and full amnesty for everyone besides the president, ministers, and members of the parliament for all offenses committed prior to October 1, 2012, save violent crimes, crimes against constitutional governance, and other similar grievous felonies;
Impossibility to reach an agreement on the constitutional issues until consensus has been achieved on the amnesty issue;
Our response (February 20):
1.Despite the position of the National Movement, within two weeks we will develop and present to the parliament a draft law on the amnesty for public officials on the basis of the principles offered by us on February 17;
2.Voting on the constitutional amendment prohibiting the president from forming a government singlehandedly, without parliamentary consent, will be held as required, depending on the political situation;
3.The issue of voting on the constitutional amendment on the location of the parliament shall not be raised until the end of the summer session;
4.We will continue our attempts to reach a cross-faction agreement on foreign policy priorities. Regardless of the outcome, however, we will vote on the parliamentary resolution on this issue before March 15;
5.We will establish the State Constitutional Commission to prepare constitutional reform, including the development of models to have the country’s European choice reflected in the constitution. This commission will comprise qualified representatives of political parties and civil society, Georgian and international experts;
6.The inter-fraction group for improving the electoral legislation and infrastructure will commence working full time on March 1. We will invite representatives of the parliamentary opposition, the civil sector, and international organizations to participate in the work of this group;
7.Before March 1, we will develop and present the public with a complex plan of activities, its goals being as follows:
Strict observance of public order at events involving the president and other representatives of the opposition;
Consistent observance of the constitutional and due process rights of persons charged with criminal offenses, as well as their right to a fair trial;
Consistent observance of the lawful rights and interests of officials of local self-governments and other government institutions;
Exhaustive and timely delivery of information on ongoing processes in the country to the international community, including information on the criminal investigation of former or current senior government officials charged with criminal offenses.
Thus, we do not terminate our dialogue with the opposition, yet we cannot settle for a fruitless dialogue either. Buying time by means of unsubstantiated whims and stipulation of new conditions on end is a luxury the opposition can afford. The primary obligation of the government, however, is to fulfill its duties and be ready for dialogue at that.
It is important that our action plan as described above addresses all the issues raised in the process of negotiation, on one hand, and enables us to continue negotiations and reach broad political consensus at any point during its implementation, should the opposition be willing and able to do so, on the other.
As for the main task of our constitutional initiative, it has been accomplished: as the weapon of destabilization in the hands of the president has been subjected to strict supervision by the international democratic society, and, if necessary, the Georgian people will not be forced to disarm him on their own,` Davit Usupashvili announced.