PM Bidzina Ivanishvili reiterated on Saturday that he welcomes “reasonable" proposal from the UNM to enforce parts of new constitutional provisions now instead of late 2013.
Speaking at a congress of his party, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), in Tbilisi, Ivanishvili said that constitutional changes were needed to limit presidential powers under which the President has the right to sack the sitting government and appoint new one without Parliament’s approval.
“Members of the parliamentary minority group also understand well the need for such changes. Because they understand it, they have offered us a reasonable proposal to put into effect right now several provisions of the constitution, which are to be enforced in October . I welcome any kind of reasonable proposal,” he said, but also added that broader constitutional changes would still be required as it contains “many other shortcomings.”
Responding to UNM’s calls on including in the constitution a clause that would guarantee Georgia’s pro-Western foreign policy course, Ivanishvili said that Georgia’s “European aspiration” did not belong to any specific political group. He said allegations about his government intending to turn away from the European path “is a lie” and added that it was “ludicrous” that UNM, which nine years ago amended a constitution by giving the President, as he put it, “dictatorial” powers, was now insisting on constitutional guarantees for pro-Western foreign policy course.
“European course is a choice of the Georgian people; membership in the European Union and NATO is required to achieve this historic goal and our government follows this path unconditionally,” the Prime Minister said.
He also said that at the same time his government had already started mending ties with Russia.
“First step has already been made as Russian market will be opened for the Georgian products – that’s rather important for our people,” Ivanishvili said.
He also said: “Our country should turn into the place of agreements, not confrontations.”
During the congress of GDDG, which is the leading party in the six-party Georgian Dream coalition, Ivanishvili was elected as its honorary chairman. GDDG has also elected a 21-member political council, the party’s main decision-making body, which mostly includes lawmakers, among them: GD parliamentary majority leader Davit Saganelidze, as well as Eka Beselia; Manana Kobakhidze; Eliso Chapidze; Irakli Sesiashvili; Irakli Tripolski; Zakaria Kutsnashvili. Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri and Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze are also members of GDDG’s political council.
In lead up to this congress, GDDG held regional assemblies, setting up its local branches in the provinces and electing heads of these local branches. The process was coordinated by MP Davit Saganelidze, leader of the parliamentary majority. This process in some of the provinces, however, was marred by confrontations between Georgian Dream activists because of disagreements who should lead local branches. GDDG leadership claimed that confrontations were stirred by activists who were “infiltrated” into the party by the UNM with a purpose to thwart the process of forming regional branches of the party.
Referring to these confrontations, PM Ivanishvili said at the congress of GDGD in Tbilisi that those developments in some of the provinces “have nothing to do with democracy”; he also said that no one would be able to gain power through violence.
In his speech at GDGD’s congress, Ivanishvili condemned again violence that erupted outside the National Library on February 8. He also said: “I understand very well those anxious people, whose rights were infringed by Saakashvili and who gathered to express their protest… But what followed next is totally inadmissible. We should learn that unfairness should be responded with legal means and not with fistfight.”
“We will not let revenge, but I promise that every wrongdoer will face justice,” he said.
Ivanishvili also said that “the first step towards restoring justice” was passing by the Parliament law on amnesty. 7,392 inmates have been freed as of February 14 as a result of the amnesty, according to the ministry for penitentiary.
Before his speech at the GDGD’s congress, Ivanishvili told journalists on February 16, that Georgian Dream had offered for several times to the UNM to start working jointly on a new amnesty bill that would apply to all the “non-violent” crimes allegedly committed by officials from the previous authorities, but UNM had not responded.
Ivanishvili also said that when he met President Saakashvili in the Georgian patriarchate in January, he had reminded the President to work on an amnesty bill for former officials, because without such amnesty “many will have to face justice”.
“Saakashvili responded that [Tbilisi mayor Gigi] Ugulava and [ex-PM and UNM secretary general Vano] Merabishvili are heroes and they would go into jail with great pleasure,” Ivanishvili said and added that “it seems Saakashvili has not lost leadership within his team” and wanted many of UNM leaders to be arrested in order to then portray it as a political prosecution.
In his speech at his party’s congress Ivanishvili said that his government “is working tirelessly round the clock” and result of this work would be felt by the people soon.
Ivanishvili also called for “respecting traditions”, but also for “accepting novelties”.
“These are two main principles, which determine Georgian culture’s identity and vitality,” he said. “We should take dignified approach not only while preserving our traditions, but also when accepting novelties. We have to remember that we should approach critically xenophobic and homophobic attitudes locked up in pseudo-traditionalism, as well as approach critically thoughtlessly replicating novelties or everything that is foreign. I believe that a person grown up on the Georgian traditions and culture will not differentiate people on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.”