The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili signed into force a package of constitutional amendments

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today signed into force a package of constitutional amendments adopted by parliament a few days ago. Saakashvili said that the amendments marked "a significant step forward towards achieving constitutional stability."
"I would like to greet the parliament speaker [Nino Burjanadze], the heads of the parliamentary factions, the chairman of the Supreme Court [Kote Kublashvili] and the secretary of the Security Council [Kote Kemularia] and draw attention to the great importance of these legislative changes.

"We are continuing to implement constitutional reforms. With these changes the president's authority has been radically reduced and a significant step has been taken towards strengthening the nation's judiciary. I want to emphasize that this was done on the initiative of the Georgian president. It should be noted that such decisions are taken only in very few countries. I want to emphasize this especially for Georgia's ill-wishers to hear. 

"This is a step forward in our efforts to reform the court system. These changes have expanded the powers of the judiciary and reduced the president's authority over it. The president will no longer be able to appoint and dismiss judges and will no longer take part in the work of the Council of Justice. The council, meanwhile, is composed primarily of members of the judiciary and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. On the one hand, this should strengthen the independence of the courts and on the other, elevate the sense of responsibility of Georgian judges. 

"The primary reason behind the constitutional amendment that stipulates that presidential and parliamentary elections be held simultaneously [in late 2008] was to ensure that the executive and legislative branches of government change at the same time. Many explanations were given as to why this constitutional amendment was introduced. Some linked it to other countries' political calendars, others to an effort to conserve funds. The real motivation, however, was the fact that because democracy is developing in Georgia, where the people are the most important component part of the government and the main force standing behind the government, it is desirable that the government should either remain whole or change all at once. 

"The constitutional changes have also affected the Autonomous Republic of Ajaria. Elections to the Ajarian Supreme Council will be held in 2008. There have been differing opinions about the amendment concerning Ajaria. The law preserves Ajaria's autonomy and increases the role of the local self-government body in resolving regional issues. 

"I want to point out that the parliamentary opposition also took part in discussion on these amendments and agreed with a number of items therein. The draft package of amendments was examined by the Venice Commission, which expressed its approval. I want to emphasize that even though the voters gave the National Movement [ruling party] an unequivocal mandate in the local elections [on 5 October], dialogue with the opposition is nevertheless important to us and very beneficial. 

"Ms Nino Burjanadze is in constant dialogue with opposition figures. We are willing to hold expanded sittings of the Security Council, where we will invite representatives of opposition parties who wish to take part in discussion on issues concerning our country's security and political course. The coming years will be interesting from the standpoint of our historical development, but also most difficult given the problems that we must overcome. 

"The Georgian constitution is in need of fundamental improvements in terms of democratization. We are ready to create a constitutional commission to write a new Georgian constitution in the coming years. The current constitution has many flaws and I think that we can write a democratic constitution of the highest standard and worthy of a modern European country, one which will continue the process of democratization. The further development of the constitution can be successful only if all political forces take part in this process. We will work together to draw up a constitution that is worthy of a European state and is based on the will of the people," Saakashvili said.

Communications Office
of the President of Georgia

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