At the end of his two-day visit to Georgia, the President of the Venice Commission presented his views on the current situation in the country at a press conference.
After meeting with the highest authorities of Georgia, Mr Buquicchio expressed his satisfaction at the willingness expressed by all his interlocutors, notably the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament, to pursue the co-operation with the Venice Commission and to consult it in the preparation of the new constitution. He welcomed that a liaison officer would be appointed by parliament in order to facilitate the exchanges with the Venice Commission.
While he understood the need for the new majority to deliver results to the voters, Mr Buquicchio warned against the danger of hasty reforms and recalled the need for broad consensus, notably as concerns constitutional amendments. An in-depth constitutional reform was necessary in order to introduce the necessary check and balances on presidential powers, which under the 2004 Constitution were missing and had for this reason been criticized by the Venice Commission. Such constitutional reform would need to be carried out after a thorough reflection and with due consultation of all the political forces and the civil society: only in this way would it be possible to achieve the ultimate aim of the process, which was a constitution which unites the Georgian people, not one that divides it.
In respect of the much discussed short-term constitutional amendments, Mr Buquicchio accepted that there might be an urgent need to proceed with them prior to October 2013 for the sake of stability of the government and of the Parliament after the last parliamentary elections and said that he did not object to the reduction of the President’s power to appoint a new government without the approval of the parliament, which had been previously criticised by the Venice Commission. He nevertheless urged the Georgian authorities to ensure a smooth, decent and respectful cohabitation in the interest of Georgia.
As concerns the amendments to the law on the ordinary courts and the amnesty law, Mr Buquicchio explained that the Venice Commission experts would visit Georgia on 6-7 February in order to have technical meetings with the competent authorities in view of the preparation of the Commission’s opinions for March 2013. He wished to stress in this context that the necessary reform of the law on the judiciary needs to respect the rule of law, which means that the mandates of the current members of the High Judicial Council should not be terminated before their end of term.
Tbilisi - A detailed summary of Mr Buquicchio’s press conference may be found at: http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=25701