Agreement by title “The future path for Georgia” It was signed on April 19, 2021 and it was considered by the international community as the only mechanism for Georgia’s exit from the 6-month political crisis. Three months later, international partners made it clear that the agreement had been violated by the Georgian Dream and that they did not shy away from talking about sanctions. The ruling party, for a long time now, has been answering to Americans and Europeans that their notions are wrong. On July 16, the “Dream” hinted that it had been deceived by international partners.
- What are the Western partners pointing at the Georgian government for?
- Why does “Georgian Dream” not share the remarks and recommendations of international partners?
- How was the legislative changes of “Georgian Dream” evaluated?
A rain of criticism
Harsh statements from Brussels and Washington have been circulating one after another. On July 16, the US Secretary of State himself made a statement via Twitter.
Anthony Blinken writes:
„“The United States is deeply concerned about the approval by the Georgian Parliament of candidates for Supreme Court justices. Ambitious judicial reform against the April 19 agreement is crucial to Georgia’s success.”
Ambitious Judicial Reform – is one of the main commitments enshrined in the April 19 agreement. It is within this obligation that the process of further appointment of judges of the Supreme Court should have been suspended, and this is clearly stated in the document. The Georgian Dream continued the process and on July 12 approved 6 new judges in the parliament.
“Deep concern” is mentioned in another statement posted on the official website of the US State Department. In the text we read:
- Failure to meet April 19 commitments “It will further undermine the confidence of the Georgian public and the international community in the Georgian judicial system and threaten Georgia’s democratic development.”.
- Incomplete implementation of the April 19 agreement also threatens the country’s economy, as it may “To weaken investor confidence and reduce the resilience of Georgia’s political and social institutions.”
- The State Department calls on the Georgian government “Restore Commitment to Democratic Principles and the Rule of Law” and, at the same time, “Strengthen Partnership with the United States and the International Community.”
It is easy to imagine that Charles Michel himself will talk to the Georgian Dream about the disputed issues of the document known as the “Charles Michel Agreement”. He was in Georgia on Monday, On July 19th Are waiting.
Earlier, Tbilisi had already heard scathing statements from Brussels, including about an alleged cut in funding.
The European Commission once again reminds the Georgian authorities that Receiving another tranche of macro-financial assistance (75 million euros) This is related to the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and the continuation of the dialogue is necessary.
“Appointments of (judges) contradict key provisions of the April 19 agreement” – We read in a statement issued by the spokesman of the European Commission, Peter Stano on July 14.
The text also notes that despite the EU call, the process of appointing judges has continued.
The process is almost complete
State Department Continues to Call on Authorities to Suspend Supreme Court Judges “Comprehensive, transparent and inclusive judicial reform.” But lawyers say the Georgian Dream has already achieved most of its goals for the Supreme Court.
The arithmetic of the process is as follows:
- According to the Constitution of Georgia, 28 judges must work in the Supreme Court;
- Since the appointment of 6 new judges on July 12, there are currently 23 judges in the Supreme Court;
- 23 out of 20 judges are appointed for life. Of these, 14 judges were approved by Parliament in December 2019;
- At this stage, 5 more judges have been appointed for life.
The High Council of Justice continues to select candidates for judges and, presumably, the Georgian Dream does not plan to stop this process in the parliament either. The ruling party does not share the remarks of international partners.
Concern of the Georgian Dream
The leaders of the ruling party on July 16, even after the heated messages from Washington, were actively repeating – that everything went according to the agreement of April 19.
MPs trying to explain the position with a detailed statement – participants in the political dialogue initiated by Charles Michel – Irakli Kobakhidze, Archil Talakvadze and Shalva Papuashvili. The text released by them also shows resentment towards international partners, whom they accuse of practically lying.
In the text, for example, we read that:
- The final version of the agreement was published on April 19 Old records of the “pause” of the process – the mediator of the process, a Swedish diplomat, From the “Initial Draft Political Agreement” published by Christian Danielson on March 31;
- This happened despite the fact that it was agreed in advance with Christian Danielson, and by April 19, the Georgian Dream had already made changes to its judicial legislation, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. “The law adopted by the Parliament accurately reflects all the key recommendations of the Venice Commission”;
- It was also part of the agreement with Christian Danielson that after the relevant changes, the appointment of Supreme Court justices would no longer be delayed;
- An old project record that hit the final version, Georgian Dream has informed international partners; And from them “received a request – “We signed the agreement on April 19 without any additional changes, so that the amendments would not cause additional political complications, and the inaccuracies in the document would be clarified during the implementation process.”.
- Given this fact, “Georgian Dream” claims that All the conditions of the political agreement were “strictly fulfilled”: The government “refrained” from appointing Supreme Court judges in accordance with the old rules and before the law was renewed, the “High Council of Justice” “paused” the interview process “and re-announced the competition;
- Then, against the background of updated legislation, Parliament continued to appoint judges, in accordance with its constitutional obligations.
Talakvadze, Kobakhidze and Papuashvili also express concern:
“It is disturbing that due to the unscrupulous actions of certain officials, the structures of our main strategic partner country are being provided with distorted information about the implementation of the political agreement at the highest level.
“Such actions threaten any dialogue that may take place in the future on various domestic issues.”
Who owns the “Dream” reprimands?
The Georgian Dream did not name the addressee (s) of the heartbreak, but many thought Kelly Degnan was meant. Almost everyone knows that ambassadors are the main source of information for the State Department, and it is with them that information obtained through other means is verified.
In recent statements on the issue of judges, the ambassador has repeatedly indicated that he does not share the arguments of the “Georgian Dream” and the continuation of the appointment process is contrary to the April 19 agreement.
And on July 16, Kelly Degnan made it clear that messages from Washington should not be considered “hasty”:
“Statements made by the US Government, including the State Department, have not been rushed. “These are messages of concern from Georgia’s strategic partner, which should be taken very seriously.”
The ambassador did not shy away from asking reporters whether sanctions were expected to be imposed. He explained that “Sanctions are one of the tools.”
“The statement of the US Ambassador is extremely valid and critically necessary for Georgian democracy and justice. It is now necessary to consolidate, strengthen the positions of foreign partners, civil society, expert circles and use all mechanisms to end the “clan rule” of the court, which nourishes the Georgian government. – Davit Jandieri, a lawyer and professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), told Radio Liberty.
According to him, a strong and credible judiciary is needed first of all to ensure peace in Georgia, and the well-being of Georgian citizens also depends on the judiciary, as impartial justice is a necessary condition for attracting foreign investors.
How was the amended law assessed?
The text published by the representatives of the Georgian Dream speaks of the implementation of the main recommendations of the Venice Commission; According to the Charles Michel Agreement, within the framework of legislative changes related to the appointment of judges “It must be fully fulfilled” Recommendations of the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR).
However, the parliament has not yet begun work on “ambitious judicial reform”, which is also set out in the April 19 document.
- By the Venice Commission On April 28th The published report lists a number of remarks and recommendations, the implementation of which is considered important by the structure of the Council of Europe, including recommendations for appealing against the decisions of the High Council of Justice.
- The July 9 hearing on the judicial appointment process was heated Report Published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR).
A July 15 statement from the U.S. Embassy said that “On Common Courts” Amendments to the Organic Law in early April, “It did not fully reflect the recommendations of the Venice Commission, including the main recommendation – to postpone the appointment of judges.”
A statement from the European Commission said on July 14 that “The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recently expressed concern in its interim report about the fairness and equality of the nomination process.”
Non-governmental sector Constantly talked about the inconsistency of the process with international recommendations.
In a report published on June 26, the Institute for the Study of Democracy notes that the Georgian Dream was almost alone in parliament at the time of the law’s passage, amid a boycott by much of the opposition:
The law was passed by the majority of the Georgian Dream in an expedited manner, before the agreement was signed, without consultation with the political parties and an inclusive process, it could not be considered a so-called “As a law under the Charles Michel Agreement, before which the parties to the agreement undertook to suspend all appointments to the Supreme Court.”
David Jandieri was skeptical of the stages of judicial reform from the very beginning. According to him, in the conditions of fragmented approaches and lack of proper will of the government, it is practically impossible to carry out fundamental judicial reform in Georgia.
“One or two or even ten people can not change anything in the judiciary … The situation can not be improved. The system is staffed with “clan” personnel, concreted and it is necessary to dismantle and re-assemble it from the beginning to the end … “Under this government, I do not imagine a real reform of the court.” – Jandieri tells us.
The agreement, initiated by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, was signed on April 19, the sixth month of the political crisis, as a result of the great efforts of the European Union and the United States. After that, the international partners constantly reminded the political leaders that it was necessary to fulfill each of the clauses in the agreement, and at the same time – that the principle of broad consensus was not violated.
WideReaching consensus Neither in the process of changing the election legislation.
On June 28, the parliament approved the updated Election Code in the third and final reading, which was not supported by the National Movement and Lelo factions.