The Extraordinary Plenary Session of the Parliament

09 May 2015
The Extraordinary Plenary Session of the Parliament

The session was summoned with the ordinance by the President. After registration, MPs served the minute of silence to commemorate the Georgian Producer, R. Chkheidze. The agenda includes sundry issues and the vote of confidence to the new Government and the program.

MPs considered the issue of termination of authorities for G. Agulashvili and T. Khidasheli. With the decree of May 1 by the PM, G. Agulashvili was appointed as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and T. Khidasheli as the Minister of Defense. The Speaker thanked them for activity in the Parliament and wished luck on new positions.

MPs considered with the III reading the drafts on Legal Status of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons; State Tax; Budget Code; Municipal Code, introduced by the Deputy-Economic Minister, N. Mikeladze. The package increases the list of bodies authorized to issue visas, supplemented with the Foreign Ministry. The Ministry is authorized to issue e-visas. The visa shall be redefined as a permit in a travel document. Residence permit is supplemented with new category=short-term permit.

After the break the Speaker stated about the visit of PACE President Anne Brasseur to Georgia who now delivers the speech.

According to A. Brasseur, in order to better understand the country specifics, personal contacts are important. “We are all members of one family – Europe based on democracy, rule of law and freedom. But democracy and rule of law need powerful institutions. CoE supports you”. She spoke about challenges to CoE member states and named intolerance and hatred as main challenges. “We shall be united, political parties of all countries, civil societies, religious leaders to combat against hatred. Yesterday I was at the administrative border and saw what the new barriers mean as territorial integrity is one of the principles for CoE states. We shall demolish barriers. We have resistance to overcome to protect freedom and rights of our citizens. It is not easy but politicians are for assume this responsibility”.

“We were assured by PACE President that we are not alone and soon will become the part of Europe”, - the Speaker stated.

MPs heard the speeches by the PM and the Ministers.

According to PM, the priority is unchanged – powerful, effective, democratic institutions. “In order to outline future plans, we shall sum up the results we achieved. I will speak about every direction but will start with economics”. When estimating economic growth, it is necessary to analyze the situation in the region. “Even when we had high index in 2003 – 11.1% and 12.34% in 2007, we were not leaders in the region as indices of our neighbors were higher. As to current situation – today we have the best index in the region and are the leaders. Despite of the fact that in 2012 economic growth in Georgia was 3.3% and 4.8% in 2014, it means that the situation in the region has less impact on our country”. In the 1st quarter, the income plan exceeded with 140 ml GEL. In March GPD increased with 12.5%. In 2014, manufacture in industrial sector increased with 12.8% and employment in business sector with 11000 people. Activity of construction sector increased with 20%. Direct foreign investments increased and constituted 272 ml USD which is with 35% higher than in 2013. Investments from USA increased with 78%; Shah-Deniz Second Phase started to bring 2 bl. USD investments to Georgia. Export increased with 20.5%, with 76% with EU and with 487.5% with Russia. “I understand that our opponents dislike these words due to some reasons but it is reality”. In 2008-2012 debt increased higher than economics. 2013 was the only year after independence when foreign debt reduced with 50 ml USD. Despite of achievements, the acute problem is GEL rate variations. Due to the hard situation in the region, we had impact thereon on currency rate. “For example, in Azerbaijan, which is richer, spent more than half billion to maintain the rate and still in February their national currency devaluated with 34%. The same is with Moldova”. The entrepreneurs to start economic activity in the mountains, shall be exempted from profit and property taxes. The relevant draft will be submitted to the Parliament soon, facilitating to increase social preferences for highlanders. It is aimed to maintain the population in the mountains and improve living conditions for them. The main task for the Government is fundamental values and more opportunities for people. Georgian choice is democracy, where freedom and human rights are guaranteed, where equality and equal distribution of national values are important. The Government makes steps to make life more peaceful, safer and more stable. “We all know that we have the Government listening to people. We are the politicians who released the court from governmental pressure”. Police and Army are now depoliticized, illegal privacy data is eliminated, media liberated from state control, business liberated from pressure, for the first time the real democratic elections were held, healthcare and education are available, IDPs accommodated. MPs asked questions mainly on political-economic situation.

According to M. Kobakhidze, MPs heard the detailed report on implemented work by the Government. “Who wants to listen, the report provided the details of success by the Government and plans to advance the country and overcome the problems”. She named acceleration of privatization as one of the projects of the governmental program. The PM answered the questions.

The Parliament shared the position of the Education Minister on school age. “It shall be defined under the law. The Minister has her position and the Parliament shares it” – responded to K. Subeliani.

To the question by G. Vashadze on visa regime, PM answered that under the new law, visa regime remained the same for EU citizens. The report by the EU Commissioner on visa liberalization action plan was today published which is positive. The regulations on visa issues are based on EU Schengen visa Code which is compliance to 2011 Georgia-EU visa facilitation agreement. “Similar is applied to Moldova, which earlier, in 2010 started working on this issue. But you were against Europe ideologically.. Moldova earlier adopted visa free regime”.

In response to S. Ratiani, PM noted that Bagrati Cathedral and Mtskheta underwent to threat to be withdrawn from UNESCO list during UNM reign. Only three monuments are in UNESCO list – Bagrati Cathedral, Mtskheta and Chazhishi. The preceding Government had ineffective measures against drugs. “For the first time, we withdrew 11 kg heroin. You were unable, ineffective in this direction. I spoke with Mr. Gomelauri about set up of investigation group to study these cases”.

PM answered to UNM about Youth Olympic Games in Tbilisi to be the initiative of the former Mayor. “It is due to you my friends. We prepare for Olympics, I am personally involved”. As he stated, this year he visits China and before the Agriculture Minister of China will visit Georgia.

Ch. Taktakishvili asked PM when to expect 1 USD to be 1.67 GEL as in 2012. She demonstrated the currency rate stating exchange for GEL to be 2.36.

PM answered that it is entailed with foreign factors which is confirmed by the IMF representatives. He called on the former Government to ask the population if Akhalaia, Merabishvili, Ugulava and others are political prisoners. “Which country you know not to investigate such cases as murder of Robakidze, Gvirgvliani; waste of 60 ml GEL by Ugulava. Everyone knows the answer and it was the answer on October 1, 2012”.

Minority asked why the Government did not continue negotiations with USA on air defense system provision to Georgia. As PM stated, after 2008 war, the world leaders did not even shake hands with M. Saakashvili. “If anyone has an illusion that the US President promised aid to M. Saakashvili on provision of weapon, you are wrong. We started negotiations on defense systems. We have real perspectives with France and I say this to be heard by UNM and Free Democrats. None of the negotiations have been suspended”.

The floor was given to MPs. E. Beselia spoke about situation on human rights and the events held after 2012 Elections. The new Government gave back to suffrage to people and the last three elections were held without SWAT and police. Another value is independent jurisdiction and in preceding years 99.9% of judgments were accusatory. She spoke about depoliticization of police, free media, penitentiary reform, accommodation for IDPs etc.

N. Kantaria represented the Education Committee. According to him, these processes in the Parliament are unique. He stated that no such democratic processes were possible during the preceding Government. He voted his confidence to the Government. “I vote for the Government and share the responsibility. We are going to better Georgia”.

D. Khundadze spoke about healthcare reforms and social projects. “In that period, the part of the population was unable to get cure and mostly had to sell their real property to get necessary treatment. The new Government declared healthcare and social projects as a priority and today illness is not a punishment”. Fertility increased and Georgia takes the 1st place on demographic data in Europe. Emergency was equipped with brand new devices and ambulances built in the villages. As to prescriptions on drugs, 95% of drug-addition will be eliminated. The Chairs of Budget and Finance, Defense and Security, Environmental Protection and Legal Issues Committees also spoke about economic-legal situation, industrial development and defense capacity of the country.

After the Chairs, the MPs introduced their views on the new Government and the program. They spoke as of successful activity, introduced critical evaluations. Minority and Free Democrats expressed negative position on vote of confidence. MPs spoke about development, economic policy, foreign and domestic priorities, challenges and achievements. From minority, N. Tsiklauri and D. Bakradze spoke about their critical positions. N. Tsiklauri stated that the Government fails to deal with the challenges and people got problems instead of justice and development. “I may have positive attitude to some Government members but in total, the Government fails to make the real decisions to deserve confidence”.

According to D. Bakradze, it is clear that majority with vote confidence though “society demands changes. We all remember the hopes and expectations 2 years ago, we all remember the immense support, it was actually an electoral revolution”. Though, the Government managed that not only opposition but the part of the society asks for changes in the Government. “You use to say that everything is well and the opposition tries to draw a worse picture. In many countries the Government makes the picture but when the opposition does it, then the Government shall resign”.

D. Saganelidze spoke on behalf of the majority. He thanked the Government and expressed his support. He echoed some issues and drew parallels. He reminded the statement by the PM that the greatest achievement is not the reform in healthcare, neither aid to IDPs, achievements in economics or foreign relations but freedom. Before 2012 no one dared so freely to speak even in the Parliament. “You gained freedom and you are not under terror, nor attacked with rubber sticks or bullets, nor taken to prison or deprived of property. But you still remain frightened and enclosed. You are not free from your leader to whom you report and who dares not to arrive in Georgia. Please, take this freedom, be free to live and speak”. To the Government he stated that majority gives legitimation defined under the Constitution to take Georgia to better state as promised.

The Economic Minister, G. Kvirikashvili made the comment to respond to Z. Japaridze. “The fact that I am here means that I still value the concepts such are dignity, responsibility and teamwork. When I speak of dignity, it means that our team values dignity of each citizen. When I speak of teamwork, it does not mean unity and when I speak of responsibility, it means that we do not think that everything is pink in the country. This responsibility covers the things that are to be improved”.

In the end, the PM thanked the attendees and resumed the events. “I wanted our dialogue to be constructive but never had an illusion for this. I would like to tell you: I am happy that democracy is enhanced. Georgia is stronger during these 2 days. We witnessed open and transparent process, democratic process characterizing any civilized, modern European state. Governing the country is hard, especially with democratic methods. 2 years ago we obtained trust by the people and it is honor for me to represent the Coalition today, to be the Prime Minister and to serve my country and people. Everyone shall remember interests of our country and that national interest prevail over personal interests. This day is important as we obtained vote of confidence. Thank you for this. I feel the responsibility to my country and people to whom I serve with all my essence, heart and soul. I wish all to feel this responsibility and I mean also opposition. The position is not eternal. We shall create something that will remain during years for our future generations. For me personally and for every Government member, responsibility, accountability to the country and the nation are superior. Thank you all”.

MPs voted confidence with 87 votes for and 38 against.