Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani has called on President Giorgi Margvelashvili to launch consultations with government and political groups in the Parliament to select “acceptable” nomination for chairman of Supreme Court.
10-year term in office of incumbent chairman of Supreme Court, Kote Kublashvili, will expire in late February, 2015.
The President has to nominate a candidate, which will then require endorsement by the Parliament; support of at least 76 MPs is needed for a candidate to be approved Supreme Court chairman.
“I want to call on the Georgian President to launch consultations with the government and the parliament about an acceptable candidate,” Tsulukiani told journalists on December 27 on the sideline of a conference, which was discussing planned reform of prosecutor’s office.
“I believe that not a single branch of the authorities – neither the Parliament, nor the government and the President will turn this issue into an apple of discord, because it will be very regrettable, as well as damaging for the country’s institutional development,” the Justice Minister said.
President Margvelashvili said in an interview with Tbilisi-based Imedi TV late on December 26 that when selecting candidates, be it for vacant seats in the Central Election Commission (CEC) or judges in the Supreme Court, he always makes his choice based on criteria of professionalism and independence of nominees.
Asked if he expects that his nomination for Supreme Court chairman will meet obstacles in the Parliament, President Margvelashvili recalled a recent case of filling one vacant seat in CEC, when the Parliament rejected his nominations, as he put it, “without any arguments”, but later approved another candidate for the same post nominated by the President. He also recalled when his nominations for Supreme Court judges were at first rejected by the Parliament, but then, after the same candidates were re-nominated, the Parliament approved them.
“I think that a democratic dialogue between us will help to gradually strengthen understanding in our political spectrum and the legislative body that I am not playing any political game and I am not either confronting or supporting any political group, and that I am simply performing my duties to ensure that people are elected in such important institutions like the Central Election Commission and judiciary based on their professionalism and not on political party affiliations,” President Margvelashvili said.
“I can guarantee that as a result of steps, which have already been taken and will be taken in the future in respect of the Supreme Court, will help to put an end to talks about previous or current authorities having [influence over the judiciary]. After these steps, there will be only talk about independent judiciary, which will ensure protection of human rights and where proceedings will be free from political motives,” President Margvelashvili said.
There has been media speculation recently about possible nominations for Supreme Court chairman. One of the names being floated by the media is Shalva Shavgulidze, lawmaker from opposition Free Democrats party, who says that although there have not been any discussions whatsoever about his nomination, he would accept if offered to be named as new chairman of the Supreme Court.