PACE Monitors Conclude Georgia Visit

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Monitoring Committee members Titus Corlăţean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE) and Deputy Head of the Committee’s Secretariat Bas Klein concluded their visit to Georgia on June 3, after meeting Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze, Sectoral Economics and Economic Policy Committee Chair Davit Songhulashvili and opposition lawmakers.

At the meeting with MP Kobakhidze, the sides discussed the human rights situation in Georgia as well as the judicial and electoral reforms envisaged in the April 19 EU-brokered deal, according to the Parliament’s press service. “It is our responsibility to fulfill [Charles] Michel’s document,” the Georgian Dream Chair stated. The meeting was attended also by Chairs of Foreign Relations, European Integration and Education Committees, Nikoloz Samkharadze, Maka Bochorishvili, and Shalva Papuashvili, respectively.

Meeting with the Sectoral Economics and Economic Policy Committee Chair, the PACE representatives discussed the controversial July 2020 amendments to Law on Electronic Communications, which allow the state regulator to appoint “special managers” to telecommunication companies. Parliament’s press service reported that “attention was drawn to” Venice Commission recommendations on the law.

MP Songhulashvili said that the regulator’s authority to appoint the managers “does not threaten” media freedom, rights to property, and freedom of expression.

The PACE representatives also on June 3 sat down with opposition lawmakers in three different meetings, one with Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Ana Buchukuri of For Georgia, and Aleksandre Rakviashvili of Girchi, another with independent MP Davit Bakradze, Khatuna Samnidze of Republican Party and Zurab Japaridze of Girchi – More Freedom, and the third with MPs from Lelo – Partnership for Georgia faction.

According to Parliament’s press service, MPs Vashadze, Buchukuri, and Rakviashvili informed the PACE monitors on the recent controversial amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses and the situation surrounding the church-run Ninotsminda Orphanage, which refuses to allow Ombudsperson’s monitoring.

The latter issue was discussed as well at the meeting of MPs Samnidze, Bakradze and Japaridze with the PACE representatives. “The issue of Ninotsminda Orphanage must be number one problem to discuss with every [international] partner … today we have foster homes that should not exist in the country,” MP Samnidze stressed.

Meanwhile, MP Zurab Japaridze raised the issue of new High Council of Justice members being elected recently despite “specific clauses agreed upon in Charles Michel’s document.”

MPs Mamuka Khazaradze, Salome Samadashvili, Armaz Akhvlediani and Ana Natsvlishvili of Lelo – Partnership for Georgia faction discussed with the PACE monitors judicial reforms and the current situation in the judiciary, as reported by the Parliament’s press service.

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