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Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation to Georgia

20.10.2004

Council of Europe  Press Releases


Parliamentary Assembly

Functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia
Recommendation 1643 (2004)

Doc. 10298
2 October 2004

Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 898th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (30 September 2004)


 1. The Committee of Ministers has considered carefully Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1643 (2004) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia. As part of the regular monitoring of the honouring of commitments and obligations undertaken by Georgia on joining the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers, like the Assembly, has followed closely the developments and many changes that have occurred in Georgia since January 2004.

2. This enables the Committee of Ministers not only to assess changes occurring in Georgia but also to evaluate the effectiveness of cooperation activities already implemented, including those under the completed EC/Council of Europe Joint Programme for the South Caucasus and the ongoing EC/ Council of Europe Joint Programme for Georgia.  This process also enables the Committee of Ministers to adjust cooperation activities to meet evolving and emerging needs.

3. Consequently it decided to focus attention on the following priority fields of action: the functioning of democratic institutions, including those connected with regionalisation, the functioning of the courts and of law enforcement agencies and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

4. The Committee of Ministers has also been following recent events in South Ossetia with concern and repeats that the Council of Europe remains firmly attached to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that it is willing to provide the parties with assistance and expertise in order to work out a lasting and peaceful solution to the crisis.

5. As regards the revision of the Electoral Code (paragraph 3.i. of the Recommendation), the Committee of Ministers wishes to inform the Assembly of the following:

i. The Venice Commission’s opinion on Georgia’s Unified Electoral Code was transmitted to the Georgian authorities on 17 February 2004.  Thus, the Electoral Code could not be revised before the partial parliamentary elections of 28 March 2004.  However, the Georgian authorities are called upon to revise the Unified Electoral Code on the basis of this opinion before the next general election.

ii.  In addition, on the occasion of the regional elections held in the Autonomous Republic of Adjaria on 20 June 2004, the Venice Commission made available to the Supreme Electoral Commission of Adjaria an expert in electoral law who gave his assistance with the legal and technical aspects of the preparation of the elections. 

iii. The Venice Commission is available for further cooperation with the Georgian authorities in the electoral field. 

6. As regards the functioning of democratic institutions (paragraph 3.ii. of the Recommendation), in particular the reform of territorial organisation:

i. The Council of Europe is assisting the Georgian authorities in framing a decentralisation strategy which will identify the priority objectives of the reform and provide for practical steps designed to pave the way for ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and ensure that it is implemented in Georgia’s legal system - a commitment undertaken by the Georgian authorities on joining the Council of Europe. 

ii. The Committee of Ministers also informs the Assembly that, at the Georgian authorities’ request, three resident experts are currently working in Tbilisi for a duration of five months, cooperating within the Georgian President’s Administration in drawing up the decentralisation strategy on the basis of a specific action plan soon to be adopted at the highest political level.

7.   As regards constitutional reform (paragraph 3.ii. of the Recommendation):

i. In accordance with the Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation, the constitutional amendments adopted in February 2004 were first submitted by the Georgian authorities to the Venice Commission for an opinion.  Nevertheless, owing to the speed of the reform process in Georgia, the time for providing comments was very short and the Venice Commission’s comments were taken into account to a very limited extent.  In the Venice Commission’s opinion, which the Committee of Ministers shares, it would be advisable for Georgia to pursue its constitutional reform.  The Committee of Ministers therefore welcomes the fact that the Conference on the constitutional organisation of the state held in Tbilisi on 18-19 May 2004 confirmed that the Georgian authorities seemed willing to carry out a revision in due course. 

ii.  In this respect, it will be noted that on 12 August 2004 the Chair of the Legal Committee of the Georgian Parliament asked the OSCE Mission, at the initiative of a Georgian NGO, to assist his Committee in preparing a new set of draft constitutional amendments.  According to the OSCE the new set of amendments is significant and includes changes to 95 articles of the Constitution. The Venice Commission remains at the disposal of the authorities for the constitutional revision.

iii. The Venice Commission has also adopted an opinion on the draft constitutional law on the status of Adjaria proposing modifications to this text. The status was subsequently adopted by the Georgian Parliament. 

8. As regards respect for the rule of law and law enforcement agencies (paragraph 3.iii of the Recommendation):

i. The Committee of Ministers informs the Assembly that at the Georgian authorities’ request a Council of Europe expert visited Tbilisi in August 2004 and took an active part in the discussions on the reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure.  The Ministry of Justice now intends to work on the existing drafts.  When a final draft text has been drawn up, it may be submitted to the Council of Europe for consideration from the point of view of compatibility with European human rights standards. 

ii.  As regards the two other laws mentioned in the Assembly's Recommendation, namely the law on the police and the law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office, it is planned to adopt them after the adoption of the new Code of Criminal Procedure.  The Council of Europe has confirmed its readiness to offer expertise on the final drafts of the two laws before they are discussed by Parliament.

iii. As part of the “Police and Human Rights” Programme, Council of Europe experts also offer assistance with the reform of the police in Georgia, particularly regarding the inclusion of human rights components in police curricula.

 

For more information see: http://www.coe.int/ / http://www.coe.ge/

 

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