Along with the amendments to the constitution of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia adopted on June 23 with 114 votes the draft Constitutional Law on the Autonomous Republic of Adjara with its second hearing.
The new constitutional law will not fundamentally change Adjara’s status and competences, but new norms will be introduced, granting more freedom to the region to carry out its powers.
Unlike the current law, the new constitutional document does not strictly define the spheres, in which the region may set up its ministries. The draft law notes that Adjara will independently define the limits of its competencies in a number of spheres, such as economy, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, social protection, education, culture, sport, youth policy and environmental protection on condition that it will not interfere in the spheres of exclusive competences of the central government or local self-governments.
Moreover, according to the new constitutional law, central government will be able to delegate its powers to Adjara along with transferring relevant material and financial resources to the region.
Unlike similar law adopted in 2004, which provides a detailed description, the new law contains only five articles and addresses the issues of Adjara’s institutional arrangement.
The new constitutional law echoes current provisions, according to which the number of members of Adjara’s legislative body should not exceed 21 lawmakers, while the region’s government shall be accountable to the President of Georgia, the Government of Georgia and the Supreme Council.
According to the new constitutional law, the President of Georgia maintains important functions in the process of government formation. In particular, the President will have the right, through the consent of the Georgian Parliament and in the cases defined by the constitutional law, to dismiss the Supreme Council of Adjara. Moreover, the President of Georgia, following the consultations with the political subjects represented in the region’s legislative assembly, will submit the candidates for government’s chairmanship and ministers to the Supreme Council for approval (presently, Adjara’s government consists of the head of government and four ministers).
The third and the final hearing on the constitutional law will be held in autumn, 2017.
Adoption of the new constitutional law will entail bringing Adjara’s constitution in line with the document. Within six months after adoption of the constitutional law, Adjara’s Supreme Council will have to submit amendments to Adjara’s constitution to the Parliament of Georgia for approval.
The current constitution of Adjara was adopted in 2008. It is based on Georgia’s constitutional law on the status of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, which was approved in 2004 after the end of political crisis in the region caused by then leader Aslan Abashidze’s reluctance to accept the authority of the central government.
The ongoing constitutional reform process does not entail changing the powers and the constitution of Georgia’s another autonomous entity - the Autonoumous Republic of Abkhazia. All members of the Supreme Councils of Adjara and Abkhazia (in-exile), however, will join the 300-member college of electors, who will elect the President of Georgia.