Civil Society's Appeal to the Parliament of Georgia

4 Apr, 2014

In 2013, the government announced its decision to launch a new local self-governance reform initiated by the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The reform aimed at deconstructing the vertical structure of government, developed by the former government of Georgia outside of self-governance. Unfortunately, all the reformatory regulations have been ignored in the governmental and parliamentary discussions of the draft law of December of 2013, namely: 

  • Decentralization of the legislative branch of the local government through district councils’ elections have not been carried out in Tbilisi;
  • The initiative included in the first draft of the Code has not been adopted. According to this initiative, Public Boards should be established in villages as a mechanism for the citizens’ involvement;
  • The regional governor is still not accountable to the elected institutions;
  • Despite the introduction of the rule of direct election of mayors and governors, the central government retains its political influence on them – the mechanism of their resignation is through City Council;
  • Self-governing status has been granted to only 7 regional centers, instead of 18 large cities.

Nevertheless, the government still claims that it is a self-governance reform of “an unprecedented scale”.  

Optimization of these 7 municipalities might be perceived as a step forward. On March 13, 2013, the Government Commission on Regional Development expressed its readiness to review the proposals received from local communities and NGO sector regarding optimization and related issues.

We, non-governmental organizations, submitted a package of proposals to the Government of Georgia that includes the establishment of several municipal entities on the remaining territories from the separation of self-governing cities. These proposals have been developed on the basis of consultations held with the population, the regional non-governmental organizations, majoritarians and the authorities of the municipalities. 

On March 27th to 28th, this issue was almost simultaneously discussed in City Councils. City Councils of Gori and Akhaltsikhe supported the idea of creating several self-governing entities on the territory of the municipality. Unfortunately, no alternative was discussed at the government session held on March 28th, but to legalize the existing situation.

The Government Commission noted above was carried out with a lack of transparency and significant deficiency. The Commission failed to take consultations with the local population. The views expressed by the City Councils, as well as public opinion have not been considered in the decision-making process.

The decision made by the government is not based on the spirit of the law, public interests and the principles of decentralization initiated by the government.

The fact that the maintenance of large municipalities may completely ruin the reform has not been considered as well. Eventually, we will lose those little achievements that might be reached through this reform.

We call on Parliament to consider the position of the City Councils, majoritarians and especially of the City Councils of Gori and Akhaltsikhe and to demand further discussion on optimization of these municipalities and submission of a relevant proposal. 

1.       International Center for Civic Culture

2.       Association “Civitas Georgica”

3.       Open Society Georgia Foundation

4.       Regional Development Center

5.       European Initiative – Liberal Academy Tbilisi

6.       International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

7.       Local Democracy Network Center

8.       Center for Effective Governance System and Technological Advancement of Regions

9.       Gori Information Center

10.    Civil Society Institute

11.    Civic Integration Foundation

12.    Association of Self-Governing Cities

13.    Media Monitoring Centre

14.    Publishing house “Guria News”

15.    The Center for Economic and Policy Research

16.    Organization “Community and self-governance”

17.    Public Movement “Multinational Georgia”

18.    Organization “Post-Alioni”

19.    Studio “Re”

20.    Human Rights Centre

21.    New Media Association

22.    Georgian Democratic Initiative

23.    “Partnership for Human Rights”

24.    Network Information Center

25.    The Independent Newspaper – P.S.

26.    Informational web portal

27.    Civil Society, Education and Media Development Institute

28.    Independent Association of Georgian Journalists

29.    Georgian Regional Media Association

30.    Organization “Public Defender”

31.    “New Newspaper”

32.    News Agency

33.    Organization “Student – Youth Council”

34.    Independent Journalists House

35.    Kakheti Civic League

36.    Community Union “Nukriani”

37.    Georgia Transcend

38.    Youth Movement – A New Idea

39.    Institute for Multi-Channel Diplomacy of Georgia

40.    Community-based organization “Leli”

41.    Organization “Saunje”

42.    “Our Kharagauli”

43.    Women for Regional Development

44.    Non-governmental Organization “Press Cafe”

45.    Association “Atinati”

Representatives of regional civil society networks    (R-CSN)

1.      Non-Governmental Organization “Sida”

2.      Regional Development Center

3.      Young Scientists’ Club of Ozurgeti

4.      Georgian Civic Development Association

5.      Society “Biliki”

6.      Democratic Development Union of Georgia

7.      Association “Club for People with Disabilities”

8.      Bridge of Friendship “Kartlosi”

9.      Kutaisi Information Center

10.  Stepantsminda

11.  Dusheti Development Foundation

12.  “We – for Healthy Future”

13.  Union of Democrat Meskhs

14.  Association “Gaenati”

15.  Anti-Violence Network – Mtskheta – Mtianeti Regional Committee

16.  Association for Civil Initiatives

17.  Institute of Democracy

18.  Union of Scientists of Imereti “Spektri”

19.  Akhaltsikhe Youth Center

20.  Union “Demosi”

21.  Kvemo Kartli Public Information Centre

22.  Lanchkuti Information Center