Georgia plans to set up “a parliament” composed of representatives from Georgian diaspora abroad in an attempt to increase their engagement in Georgian affairs, Papuna Davitaia, the state minister for diaspora issues, said on May 2.
Davitaia said that his office was working on a draft law according to which 45-member “diaspora parliament” would gather once in a year for a five-day session in the Georgian Parliament building and serve as “an advisory body” with the State Ministry for Diaspora.
Composition of the planned body will be linked to a special status introduced by Georgia for Georgian expats. In November, 2011 the Parliament passed a law on “diaspora organizations and compatriots living abroad”, envisaging easing access to some of the services provided by the state for Georgians living abroad.
Since March, 2012 fifty such special status have been issued, the Georgian State Minister for Diaspora said. He said that the law on “diaspora parliament” would only go into force after this figure reaches 30,000.
A Georgian diaspora in those countries where number of Georgian expats with special status will be at least 1,000 will be eligible to elect one representative to “parliament”; but no more than three representatives will be able to elect from a single country. Davitaia said that 30 seats would be compose this way and 15 others would be appointed by the State Minister for Diaspora from those countries, where the number of expats with special status would be less than 1,000 in order to maximally cover as many countries as possible.
He said, that the State Minister for Diaspora would serve as a chairman of the planned “parliament” and its speaker would be elected by the members of the body; the speaker will also be “an honorary member of the Georgian Parliament”, Davitaia said.
“The initiative will help to increase our contacts with the Georgian diaspora abroad and it will help to boost their involvement in Georgia’s state affairs, political, economic, cultural developments,” Davitaia said.
He made the remarks while speaking during a hearing at the parliamentary committee for diaspora and Caucasus issues.
The committee held on May 2 the first public discussion of draft of Georgia’s state strategy on North Caucasus, which outlines priority areas through which Tbilisi intends to boost its ties with the North Caucasus.
Nugzar Tsiklauri, chairman of the parliamentary committee for diaspora and Caucasus issues, said that the draft strategy would be passed by the Parliament after series of parliamentary committee hearings.
“I think that the adoption of this document will put an end to insinuations as if Georgian policy in North Caucasus is directed towards destabilization of the situation there,” Tsiklauri said and added: “We need peaceful, stable, safe environment in the Caucasus region.”