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PM Ivanishvili Responds to President's Address
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Feb.'13 / 04:38

PM Bidzina Ivanishvili says he’s willing and ready to maintain relations with the President and his political team in “full compliance with the constitution” and to make “reasonable concessions”.

In a written statement released late on February 9, PM Ivanishvili condemned “unconditionally and unequivocally” violence which broke out during the protest on Friday outside the National Library in Tbilisi in which several UNM lawmakers were assaulted. He says that he has instructed the Interior Minister to take measures to identify and punish “the participants and instigators of this violence”. He also says that analysis of the police actions is underway to improve police response to such situations.

On President Saakashvili’s February 8 address to the nation, PM Ivanishvili says in his statement that President’s speech had “few noteworthy details”; had Saakashvili made some of those statements earlier, “we would have avoided some complications,” the PM said.

PM Ivanishvili welcomed President Saakashvili’s remarks that he was not against of limiting his powers by stripping him of right to appoint the new government without Parliament’s approval.

PM Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition initiated constitutional changes, which, if approved, will deprive the President of his power to sack the government and appoint the new one without Parliament’s authorization. President Saakashvili’s UNM party responded that it would only support these amendments if GD agreed on making pro-Western foreign policy course constitutionally guaranteed and in case increasing bar for passing any future constitutional amendment from current two-third to three-fourth of MPs votes.

President Saakashvili said on February 9, that he was not against of limiting his powers in respect of appointing new government; he also said that he was not intending to use this right. Saakashvili, however, said he was strongly against of another GD-proposed constitutional amendment related to new authorities’ intention to relocate Parliament from Kutaisi back to Tbilisi.

Saakashvili also said that he was strongly against of changing current rule of direct election of President. Although no such proposal has yet been formally initiated, some GD lawmakers have recently voiced the idea to make president indirectly elected post. 
 
PM Ivanishvili said in his written statement on February 9 that his GD coalition would be ready to hear President’s opinion over these issues “with due diligence” after the Parliament adopts constitutional changes on presidential powers.

On UNM’s demand to make pro-Western foreign policy course constitutionally guaranteed, PM Ivanishvili says that before making any decision on introducing such constitutional changes, it would be better to finalize work on a joint document on the foreign policy, which was offered by GD to UNM lawmakers in January. This joint document, Ivanishvili said, would help his government “to expedite European and Euro-Atlantic integration, ensure the irreversibility of the policy of non-recognition of the occupied territories, and launch the revival of relations with Russia in terms of trade, economy and culture.”
 
Georgian Dream coalition has offered UNM to work jointly on an amnesty bill that will apply to “non-violent crimes” that could have been committed by the officials under the previous government; the amnesty, however, should not apply to “violent crimes”. Apparently referring to this issue, PM Ivanishvili says in his statement: “No power to pardon violent offenses has been vested in me. As to all other issues, I am ready to make reasonable concessions for the sake of the wellbeing of our homeland.”

Below is the full text of PM Ivanishvili’s February 9 written statement:
 
“First and foremost, I would like to denounce unconditionally and unequivocally the incidents of violence that broke out yesterday on the territory adjacent to the Public Library.  Popular protest, as a right guaranteed by the constitution, must be expressed only in a non-violent manner and in compliance with the law.  I authorized the Interior Ministry to carry out lawful measures with a view to identifying and punishing the participants and instigators of this violence. Analysis of the actions by the police is also underway, so that methods to be used in such situations may be improved.
 
It would have been better if the President of Georgia took into consideration the offer by the ruling majority to give his annual speech in the building of the Parliament of Georgia a couple of weeks later.

Nonetheless, I would like to point out that I noticed a few noteworthy details in the presidential speech. Had he made some of these statements earlier, we would have avoided some complications. Namely, the president apologized to the Georgian people for the mistakes he and his government had made throughout the years.  The president also admitted that the people rightfully stripped them off their power as a result of the parliamentary election last year and that reclaiming citizens’ trust would require, first of all, analyzing problems in the past and learning lessons.
 
It is time for him now to practice what he preaches, so that these and other words of his may be trusted.  The president stated that his political team is ready to support constitutional amendments, by authority of which it will be impossible to appoint a new government without the parliament’s participation. Accordingly, we anticipate the parliamentary minority to confirm this statement, shortly after which the parliament will vote on this draft law.
 
The president discussed other constitutional issues as well, which are not related to the draft law in discussion and on which his opinion differs with ours. After the adoption of the draft law mentioned above, we will be ready to hear his opinion with due diligence and coordinate our positions in the process of deliberations on relevant draft laws with the participation of international and Georgian experts.
 
Before making decision on any issue at the constitutional level, it would be advisable to finalize the execution of the cross-faction agreement on the foreign policy priorities of the country in the parliament. Achieving broad political consensus on the document initiated by the parliamentary majority would support the government’s attempts to expedite European and Euro-Atlantic integration, ensure the irreversibility of the policy of non-recognition of the occupied territories, and launch the revival of relations with Russia in terms of trade, economy, and culture.
 
I would like to state once again that I am willing to maintain relations with the president and his political team in full compliance with the constitution and the principles of the rule of law. No power to pardon violent offenses has been vested in me.  As to all other issues, I am ready to make reasonable concessions for the sake of the wellbeing of our homeland.”

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