The newly elected parliament of Georgia went into action – without opposition representatives. Although it has enough votes for the MPs to make decisions, a one-party parliament will undoubtedly damage the country image in the international arena.
Without Opposition but Already with the Government
On December 11, the parliamentary majority recognized the powers of the newly elected parliament. 90 out of 150 mandates in the main legislative body of the country belong to one party, the pro-government “Georgian Dream”. Eight parties, none of which attended the parliamentary session, won the remaining 60 seats. Moreover, the opposition intends to completely abandon its mandates, leaving the ruling party alone in a one-party parliament.
The main requirement is early elections due to falsification of the autumn voting results. The opposition believes that by entering parliament it recognizes the legitimacy of the election results. A significant number of opposition deputies (54 out of 60) announced their intention to leave their deputy mandates. They formally applied to the parliament to terminate their powers. Six deputies did not submit such applications. This small group has a different position, although they have not yet decided unconditionally on entering the parliament. Besides, based on an opposition parties appeal to the Central Election Commission (CEC), electoral party-lists were nullified.
The multi-round talks mediated by the US and EU ambassadors did not stop, albeit they gave no results. Negotiations period seems to expire in February 2021 when the spring session starts and the parliament is forced to comply with the appeals. The parliament already approved the new government and can pass new laws, although the available votes are not enough to amend the Constitution – this requires 2/3 of the votes or 100 mandates.
Many international leaders already sent their congratulations to the newly appointed prime minister. However, a one-party parliament is a serious political disadvantage for Georgia, which claims to apply to join the EU by 2024. Besides, there are some other risks named both by the ruling and opposition parties. Partner countries’ representatives explicitly demand from the parties to reach an agreement.
The final OSCE/ODIHR report on the results of the elections is not available yet. According to the preliminary estimates, despite the fact that the mission recorded some significant errors, fraudulent elections are out of the question.
“The parliament already approved the new government and can pass new laws, although the available votes are not enough to amend the Constitution”
Positive Forecasts for 2021
The Budget Office of the Georgian Parliament predicts economic growth for the coming years, according to which the Georgian economy will grow by 5.2% in 2021.
The office’s forecast rests upon several assumptions, like, in 2021, the market participants can be better adapted to the pandemic and the so-called “value chain” will be restored both domestically and globally, which in its turn will facilitate the exchange of goods.
Besides, they expect that in 2021 the tourism sector will slightly revive, and the change even to some small extent will lead to an increase in exports and imports of services correspondingly. According to the ministry, starting from the second quarter of 2021, the Georgian economy will recover faster than in other countries. Nevertheless, the forecasts certainly depend on the situation with the pandemic.
Russian Border Claims
The Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed a new special envoy for demarcation and delimitation of state borders with the CIS countries. According to some Russian media reports, this position was taken by Mikhail Petrakov, who will also lead the Russian delegation at the multilateral negotiations on the Caspian Sea. As it is stated in the decree on his appointment, M. Petrakov will be responsible for “demarcation and delimitation of state borders of the Russian Federation with the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Republic of South Ossetia.”
The Press and Information Department of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “any treaty concluded by Moscow with the occupation regimes of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, including the so-called “state borders” issues, will be illegal and void. The issue of delimitation and demarcation of the state border between Georgia and the Russian Federation cannot be put on the agenda until Russia de-occupies Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region of Georgia in full compliance with the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008 and changes its illegal decision on the so-called recognition of the occupied territories’ independence. At the same time, any such treaty will be taken by the international community as another aggressive attempt by Russia to practice forcible change of sovereign borders in Europe.”
Parliament of Georgia holds session without opposition
Photo: Vano Shlamov (AFP)