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Refusal After Three-Month Expectation


Aleksi Bezhanishvili

The Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice said on April 4, that Ivanishvili was not eligible to obtain Georgian citizenship through naturalization process, which he was requesting since January 5; the agency said, Ivanishvili, as a French national, should instead seek regaining his Georgian passport through dual-citizenship process.

The announcement came one day before the expiration of three-month deadline for responding to Ivanishvili’s application, who requested the Georgian authorities to restore his citizenship through naturalization on January 5. Before applying for citizenship through naturalization, Ivanishvili on December 29, 2011 submitted to the French embassy in Tbilisi a request for launching procedures for his withdrawal from the French citizenship.

The Ministry of Justice clarified that individuals who currently are citizens of another country can apply for dual citizenship, while stateless persons pursue a naturalization process.

“Mr. Ivanishvili, a French national, filed an application with the Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice requesting Georgian citizenship through naturalization. However, under the law, a foreign national cannot obtain Georgian citizenship through naturalization,” the Ministry clarified.

The Ministry statement reads, that being a foreign national, Mr. Ivanishvili can seek Georgian citizenship through the dual-citizenship process, as provided by the relevant Georgian legislation for foreign nationals. No such request has yet been filed by Mr. Ivanishvili with the relevant government agencies.

“The issue of citizenship shall be resolved only through legal procedures estimated by the Georgian law,” the Ministry of Justice added.

Under the Georgian law, maximum term to grant citizenship to an individual is three months. Exactly three months were taken by the CRA to prepare conclusion on Ivanishvili’s citizenship.

According to the law, reasons for refusal for granting Georgian citizenship are if a person “has committed an international crime against peace and humanity”; “has taken part in a crime against the state” or if granting of a citizenship would be “inexpedient” from the point of view of state and public security.

This decision is based on lies and illegality

The authorities’ “illegal” and “politically-motivated”  decision not to grant Bidzina Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship through naturalization will not derail his opposition coalition Georgian Dream’s electoral plans, Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for the Ivanishvili-led coalition said.

“This decision is based on lies and illegality,” Panjikidze told journalists on April 5 “Stripping him of citizenship was in itself a politically-motivated decision, because he [Saakashvili] was afraid of a strong political opponent, the same is about this recent decision, because Saakashvili knows very well the public stance and knows real ratings.”

She added that nothing will change in our plans, he stays the leader of [opposition Georgian Dream] coalition and “his coalition will be called Bidzina Ivanishvili-Georgian Dream and he will be a prime ministerial candidate of this coalition; this coalition will definitely win in the October elections,” she noted.

Without Georgian citizenship Ivanishvili has no right to establish a political party or to run in the parliamentary elections this October.

A senior ruling party lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision was stemming from purely legal-related issues, which had nothing to do with politics. From the political point of view, MP Gabashvili continued, Ivanishvili had and still has an opportunity to continue political activities.

MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of a small parliamentary minority group, said “no one will believe” the ruling party lawmakers’ statements that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision was only about legal matters.

MP Targamadze said that Christian-Democrats believe that Ivanishvili should have the Georgian citizenship, which is also important for competitive electoral environment.

He said that the dispute could be resolved through constitutional amendment designed specifically for Ivanishvili. According to MP Targamadze’s proposal a constitutional amendment should allow a citizen of EU-member state, who was born in Georgia and who has lived in Georgia for recent ten years, to run in the elections.

“We request the government, in the process of discussing constitutional amendments initiated in parliament, to actively discuss the idea offered by us, that is based on EU precedent, that provides citizen of France, EU member country, who has lived in Georgia for ten years, to give the political rights, namely register for elections, take part in elections, be elected to the political position, head the election list etc. the right that citizens of Georgia exercise”, Targamadze said and added that it cannot be justified to refuse an individual to grant citizenship on political grounds.

By midday of April 5 the parliamentary majority declared they intend to support the initiative of the Christian-Democrat Movement. A leader of the parliamentary majority MP Goka Gabashvili told journalists that they were already introduced to the initiative and will support it. He said the initiative will put an end to all insinuations, speculations and political assessments about Ivanishvili’s citizenship.

“Bidzina Ivanishvili will have full right to participate in the elections and will enjoy all political rights that we all enjoy; so his political rights will not be restricted at all,” Gabashvili said and underscored that Ivanishvili’s citizenship has nothing to do with the politics.

Why amendments should be introduced to the Constitution?

Lawyers evaluated the initiative of the Christian-Democrat Movement with regard to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s citizenship as unreal and believe that it farther prolong the process.

Lawyer of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Kakha Kozhoridze told the Interpresnews that no constitutional or legislative changes are needed because current law envisages procedures to grant Georgian citizenship to Ivanishvili.

Kozhoridze said although the Georgian law does not envisage naturalization of a foreign citizen, Bidzina Ivanishvili had already declined French Citizenship. According to him, President’s 2009 Decree # 34 makes the legislation flexible for Bidzina Ivanishvili’s case and it farther clarifies the naturalization procedures.

“According to this decree, when an individual applies to the president for naturalization, she/he might be a citizen of any other country but if he/she is ready to quit the foreign citizenship simultaneous to acquiring Georgian citizenship. Of course, the law envisages that formally a person can hold foreign citizenship when applying for Georgian citizenship. Simply, having received the Georgian citizenship, she/he must immediately quit foreign citizenship. In Ivanishvili’s case it is proved by his application to the French Embassy to annul his French citizenship,” Kozhoridze said.

Ivanishvili’s lawyer Shalva Tadumadze said the CDM initiative will prolong the process and is unreal. He said the parliament shall discuss the initiative and the parliamentary majority shall make relevant decision.

“When the president cannot make the proper decision, the parliament is more unlikely to make relevant decision. So, I think it is unreal method. Current law allows the authority to grant citizenship to Ivanishvili and no other ways shall be sought,” Tadumadze said.

Georgian citizenships were stripped off Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife Ekaterina Khvedelidze based on the president’s decree on October 11, 2011. Later, the Court annulled the decree only with regard Ekaterina Khvedelidze. Afterwards, Bidzina Ivanishvili requested Georgian citizenship through naturalization.

Article prepared according to the Civil Georgia and Interpresnews

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Name: გიორგი
2012-04-12 12:43
სამწუხაროდ, დროა პატივცემულმა ბიძინამ აღიაროს რომ მისი იურისტები არ აღმოჩნდნენ კომპეტენტურნი და ზუსტად მათ მიერ დაშვებული შეცდომების გამოა რომ ახლა ეს ადამიანი ასეთ გაუგებარ მდგომარეობაში აღმოჩნდა.
ვინ იცის და იქნებ ეს იურისტები ზუსტად მთავრობის დავალებით მუშაობდნენ და სპეციალურად წაიყვანეს ბიძინა არასწორი მიმართულებით.
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