UNM parliamentary minority leader, Davit Bakradze, said after talks with PM Ivanishvili and Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili on July 6 that despite “fundamental differences” it was possible to reach an agreement on number of issues.
“It was a very frank and useful discussion. Of course fundamental differences remain between us on whole set of issues, which has been confirmed at this meeting too, but the fact of the meeting and dialogue itself should definitely be assessed positively,” Bakradze told journalists.
The meeting, which lasted for about hour and a half, took place in PM Ivanishvili’s private seaside residence in Ureki in western Georgia.
It was announced earlier that Bakradze and Usupashvili would have made a joint statement for the press in Kutaisi after the meeting, but only Bakradze showed up. UNM parliamentary minority leader said it was due to “purely technical” reasons and there was “no political intrigue” behind it. He said Usupashvili continued consultations with the PM after the meeting and could not join him for a press briefing.
Bakradze says that the first issue on which the agreement was reached is to create a state commission on constitutional reform, which will unite representatives from broad range of political parties, civil society and legal experts.
“The goal of the commission will be to elaborate a constitutional model based on a broad consensus without any haste, which will serve as an optimal [model] for Georgia for next ten, fifteen, twenty years and which will put an end to permanent constitutional changes,” Bakradze said.
Speaking on the issue on July 5, parliament speaker Usupashvili said that the Georgian Dream coalition’s goal was “to improve” the constitution in three stages; first two stages involve making “urgent amendments” and the third stage will be fundamental revamp of the constitution, Usupashvili said.
The first stage, he said, has already been implemented when the Parliament unanimously passed constitutional amendments cutting presidential powers to appoint new government without Parliament’s approval.
The second stage is currently underway as public discussions are ongoing on number of constitutional changes proposed by the GD. Usupashvili said that the third stage will involve creation of the state constitutional commission, which will discuss a comprehensive constitutional reform.
“This commission will work for about one year in order to at last have such a constitution in which there will be no need any more to introduce amendments for several times every year,” Usupashvili said.
The second issue on which the agreement was achieved, Bakradze said, is related to UNM donors. Bakradze said that recently “hundreds” of individuals who donated money to UNM last year ahead of the parliamentary elections were summoned by the law enforcement agencies despite the fact that in December, 2012 the Parliament passed amnesty act, which exempted from legal proceedings violation of party funding rules.
“I am glad that it was possible to reach an agreement on this issue and the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Chairman pledged that legal proceedings would be ceased against [UNM] party donors as it’s envisaged by the amnesty act; so I think that’s a positive result,” Bakradze said.
The third issue, he said, was that PM and parliament speaker expressed desire for UNM to cease its boycotting of the Parliament.
UNM lawmakers announced about boycotting of the parliamentary sittings on June 28 in protest against arrest of four senior officials from the Tbilisi city municipality.
“I think it [ceasing of the boycott] is possible at this stage, so my recommendation to the parliamentary minority would be to return back to parliamentary work from next week,” Bakradze said, adding that it was up to the parliamentary minority group to take final decision on this issue, but he would recommend in favor of ceasing the boycott.
Bakradze said that it was also agreed at the meeting to keep this channel of communication and to hold talks in this “format” – PM, parliament speaker and UNM parliamentary minority leader, whenever needed.
“This won’t be a regular format, but whenever the either side deems it necessary or when a situation in the country requires it I hope this format will continue its work,” Bakradze said.
Asked if the issue related to legal proceedings against and arrests of former government officials or officials from the Tbilisi city municipality was discussed, Bakradze responded: “Yes, we spoke on many issues and we touched upon actually every issues which are important now in the country and naturally I, as a leader of the opposition, feel responsibility before my political team members and the society and with this responsibility we spoke about all the issues, but I have already mentioned those issues which we have agreed on.”