EPP delegation to Georgia concerned about constitutional reform plans. A strong and healthy opposition is vital.
Brussels, 13 May 2017
From 10-11 May a high-level EPP delegation, led by EPP Vice-President Paulo Rangel MEP and including 12 delegates from 10 different countries, visited Tbilisi in order to evaluate the current political landscape and discuss with key stakeholders the challenges of the country regarding its Euro-Atlantic path.
Key meetings were held with EPP member party United National Movement (UNM) in its headquarters in order to discuss with the newly elected Chairman of the Political Council, Nika Melia MP, and with his team the challenges facing the party after the most recent parliamentary elections and UNM’s preparations for upcoming local elections.
The EPP delegation also assessed the membership application of the new party Movement for Liberty European-Georgia (EG) in a series of meetings with party leader Davit Bakradze MP and his team as well as with regional leaders and party associations. Contributions from diplomats, political experts and representatives from academia and civil society, as well as input from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, broadened the scope of the discussions. Vice-President Paulo Rangel MEP, during a meeting with the speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze MP, voiced serious concerns regarding the current government’s proposals to amend the constitution:
"All the suggested changes have to be seen in light of the political context and the historical experience of Georgia. Abusing the constitutional majority in order to negatively shift the system of checks and balances in favour of the ruling majority would be a big step backwards. Especially as regards the intended indirect election of the president, the allocation of undistributed mandates (‘bonus’) to only the wining party and the suggested prohibition of electoral blocks while maintaining the threshold of 5%: these are all amendments which could severely undermine the further democratic and pluralistic development of the country, considering its current political context. Only with a large political consensus and in line with the awaited Venice Commission recommendations should the next steps be undertaken," underlined the EPP Vice-President.
"Georgia should continue on its trajectory as a success story and a role model for the region. The EPP very much welcomed Georgia’s recently approved visa liberalisation scheme with the EU. At the same time, the country will only succeed with a healthy opposition, functional party system as well as guarantees for media plurality, the need for which underlines the important role of Rustavi2 TV," concluded the EPP’s head of delegation.
The EPP will continue to closely monitor and support the democratic process of Georgia for the benefit of its citizens.
Note to editors:
The EPP is the largest and most influential European-level political party of the centre-right, which currently includes 79 member parties and partners from 41 countries, the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament, 7 EU and 7 non-EU heads of state and government, 13 members of the European Commission and the largest Group in the European Parliament.
For more information:Siegfried Muresan, EPP Spokesperson, Tel. +32 22854147