Georgia: Waiting for president’s veto

Lasha Tughushi, Liberal Academy Tbilisi Foundation

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In spite of the protests and even the opposition’s boycott, the parliamentary majority adopted the new Constitution of Georgia. Now it’s the President’s turn, and the presidential veto is widely expected. As for the economic life of the country, now it is mostly about the harvesting of the wine grapes. And in the Georgia’s foreign policy the main development of the beginning of this autumn was the Prime Minister meeting the re-elected Germany’s Chancellor.

Domestic Policy. Constitution for one party

“The day will mark the establishment of a one-party rule in the country” – these were the words of the parliamentary opposition addressing the project of the new Constitution. The opposition walked out of the session hall to demonstrate their protest before the third and final hearing with nothing but insults heard in its back.

At the third and final hearing, after a lengthy and controversial process of hearings, the Parliament passed the new Constitution with 117 votes for it and only 2 against, with the participation of the only one political power–the parliamentary majority faction “Georgian Dream”. The new Constitution will enter into force immediately after the presidential elections in the autumn of 2018.

The opposing parties mostly protest against the delay in changing the current mixed electoral system for the proportional representation from 2020 to 2024. The transit to the proportional representation is a significant breakthrough for Georgia from the point of view of forming a democratic political system. That’s why the weak position of the parliamentary majority is completely unclear. One of the reasons for such actions can be blackmailing by some MPs elected by the majority system, who would be threatened to leave the majority as a result of changing the current system. And this, in its turn, would lead to a rupture. The majority would be, however, able to get the necessary number of votes if they had the support of the Parliament’s opposition instead of some MPs elected by the majority system.

However, the scenario of the Constitution adopted as a result of the consensus with the Saakashvili followers was forsaken for a different scenario: the one involving passing the Constitution without the Saakashvili followers, with it in fact being a standby document supported by one party only.

The Constitution is waiting to be signed by the President. It is unknown what exact actions the President will take, especially since he does not feel quite as enthusiastic as the majority in the Parliament. Even more so taking into account that according to the new Constitution, the President will no longer be elected by the direct voting. Moreover, when the institute of the Security Council of Georgia was dissolved, it was quite traumatizing for the President. The Council was where, despite all the clashes, the Prime Minister, the head of the Parliament and the President sat down together and discussed the pressing issues of the politics, security and defense crucial for the country. The Security Council will be replaced by the Defense Council acting only during the times of war.

The presidential veto is expected, and as in the rest of cases it will be overridden by the Georgian Parliament. However, the issues, points and frames that the President will quote in his veto remain to be seen.

At the same time the local electoral campaign is on the rise. The pro-Russian parties are acting quite harshly. One of them, “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia”, went on a hunger strike in front of the Parliament’s building and is calling on its followers to follow with street protests in order to make sure that “saboteurs” in the government are held responsible. Another Pro-Russian party, the party of Nino Burjanadze, calls on its electorate to make their choice between the national and the liberal values. It is clear that these events will touch upon all sensitive and volatile issues, from religious to social ones, including the issues of the ethnic minorities.

Economy. Rtveli – wine’s aroma in Kakheti 

As a rule, the annual harvesting of the wine grapes in Kakheti (rtveli) starts at the beginning of September, while in western Georgia–in early October.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, 24 new enterprises were financed and 48 active businesses were aided during the preparation period of rtveli in the country. In the frames of the state agricultural insurance program, vineyards of 5.1 thousand ha are insured. Moreover, the diversification of the export market is also taking place.

The Ministry of Agriculture reported on the achievements of the state support of winemaking in Georgia

Georgia intends not only to improve its export efforts at the traditional markets, but also to enlarge the non-traditional markets, such as the Chinese market, for example. This year the government is going to use a different approach. Since now thanks to the government support the demand for the quality grapes increased, there is no need to subsidize it in the region of Kakheti as of today. However, providing some financial aid will remain in other regions where the unique grape varieties are grown.

The wine boom can be recognized not only in the traditional regions, but also in Tbilisi. The city wine lovers are actively purchasing grapes in order to produce their own wine with their hands. As it is said in Georgia, the natural wine is waiting for its guest.

Foreign Policy. Kvirikashvili Is In Berlin Again

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili met the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany  Angela Merkel. His visit to Merkel happened remarkably fast: only two days after her electoral victory.

The Prime Minister of Georgia stated that the Merkel’s electoral victory is of the outmost importance to Georgia. As for Georgia, the current reforms were being discussed along with the association agreement with the EU, the Free Trade agreement and the visa liberalization issue. Moreover, the Prime Minister said that the stable and democratic situation creates all the preconditions for the German business circles to show more interest in Georgia. This will bring the significant benefits to both countries.

The issues of the global security and the Georgia’s role in the region in this respect, as well as the country’s participation in the mission in Afghanistan were discussed as well. Germany appreciates the impact the Georgian soldiers made during this mission. Moreover, the conflict between Georgia and Russia, as well as the current situation on the occupied territories of Georgia and the occupation line were also discussed.

Georgia is well aware of the prospects of the multilateral cooperation with Germany, especially taking into account the historic perspective.

At the end of the month the President of France Emmanuel Macron officially passed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) co-chairmanship to the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili. It was the first time in the history that Georgia became the co-chairman of the initiative involving 75 countries. It is a big challenge for Georgia to be a leader in the initiative that, according to the progressive international plan of the U.S. former President Barack Obama, sets the new high standards for the citizens’ involvement and the state management according to the principle of transparity.