The European People’s Party (EPP), the largest European-level political party of the center-right, said it is “concerned” over the constitutional reform plans in its May 13 conclusions summarizing the party’s recent fact finding mission to Georgia.
A high-level EPP delegation, led by EPP Vice President and MEP Paulo Rangel and including twelve delegates from ten different countries, visited Tbilisi on May 10-11 in order to evaluate the Georgia’s political landscape and discuss its challenges regarding the country’s Euro-Atlantic path with key political stakeholders, civil society organizations and political analysts, as well as the representatives of international organizations and diplomatic corps in the country.
The fact finding mission kicked off their meetings with a working breakfast with EU Ambassador Janos Herman and Deputy German Ambassador to Georgia Monica Lenhard.
On May 10, they also met with the United National Movement party (UNM), EPP’s observer member since 2008. At their meeting, the sides discussed the challenges facing the party after the 2016 parliamentary election and the party’s preparations for the upcoming municipal elections in October, 2017.
The delegation also met with the leadership of the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia, their regional leaders and party associations to discuss the development of the new party and current political challenges, and to assess their EPP membership application.
The EPP delegation met the Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze as well, where they underlined their “serious concerns” on the planned constitutional changes.
“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 favor 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,” the EPP Vice President stressed.
“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 liberalization 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,” Paulo Rangel concluded.
According to the fact finding mission conclusions, the European People’s Party “will continue to closely monitor and support the democratic process of Georgia for the benefit of its citizens.”
The EPP is the largest and most influential European-level political party of the center-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, seven EU and seven non-EU heads of state and government, 13 members of the European Commission and the largest Group in the European Parliament.