Deadline for responding to billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili’s request to reinstate his Georgian citizenship through naturalization has not yet expired and the decision will be made in due time as envisaged by the law, Deputy Justice Minister, Tina Burjaliani, told lawmakers on March 29.
Ivanishvili submitted relevant papers to request citizenship to the Civil Registry Agency at the Ministry of Justice on January 5, 2012. According to the law on citizenship, the authorities have to respond within three months after the application was submitted.
“We have three months to decide the issue; the deadline has not yet expired,” the Deputy Justice Minister said without specifying an exact date. “The decision will be made within the timeframe envisaged by the law and a relevant person [Ivanishvili] will be notified about this decision.”
Three month deadline expires on April 5, 2012, but Burjaliani also indicated that final response might be delayed for several days.
The Deputy Justice Minister said that the application for citizenship filed by Ivanishvili contained some “shortcomings” and the applicant was given “about, if I am not mistaken, four days to correct” those shortcomings.
“So these several days will also be added, possibly will be added [on top of the deadline],” Burjaliani added.
Ivanishvili is confident that he would regain his citizenship. He said on March 29 while opening his opposition coalition Georgian Dream’s office in Dedoplistskaro, eastern region of Kakheti, that “about a week is left before restoration of my citizenship.”
A person willing to become citizen of Georgia through naturalization should meet the following set of requirements, as envisaged by the law on citizenship: an applicant must have permanently lived in Georgia for last five years; has to know the Georgian language and history “within the established limits”; has to be employed in Georgia or have any real estate on the territory of Georgia or have shares in an enterprise in Georgia.
According to the law, reasons for refusal for granting Georgian citizenship are if a person “has committed an international crime against peace and humanity”; “has taken part in a crime against the state” or if granting of a citizenship can be deemed “inexpedient” from the point of view of state and public security.
Deputy Justice Minister, Tina Burjaliani, made the remarks while speaking in the Parliament in frames of a procedure known as ‘governmental hour’ during which cabinet representatives answer specific questions of lawmakers sent in advance.
Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili and Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili were summoned upon the request of lawmakers from opposition parliamentary faction Unity for Justice. One was the questions sent to the Justice Minister was why the decision about Ivanishvili’s citizenship “is being dragged out and on what stage it is right now.”
The Justice Minister was not able to appear before the Parliament because of his visit to Ukraine. Although initially it was announced that Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was intending to appear before the lawmakers, he canceled visit to the Parliament just before the launch of governmental hour, sending instead his deputy Eka Zguladze.
The last minute cancelation of Merabishvili arrive in the Parliament triggered protest of lawmakers from Unity for Justice, who walked away from the chamber without listening answers on their questions delivered by deputies of interior and justice ministers.
Deputy Interior Minister, Eka Zguladze, apologized to lawmakers for Minister Merabishvili’s failure to appear before the Parliament, citing unspecified “force majeure situation.”