Statement of NGOs on decentralization reforms start up initiative

10 Jan, 2013

NGO statement on the launch of the decentralization process and the situation regarding the local authorities

December 28, 2012, Tbilisi, Georgia

A new political force that came to power following the October 1, 2012 Parliamentary Elections has declared the self-government reform as one of its key priorities.

Reform efforts made in the field for the past 20 years have failed to serve their declared purpose of strengthening the local self-government.  Instead, it has contributed to the formation of the government vertical, in which local government has become an addition having no functions.  Because of the gaps in the existing system, people from the former ruling party start moving to a new ruling political party both willingly and unwillingly following the change of the central government. This was the case when Round Table, Citizens’ Union and Revival lost their political power.    

Unfortunately, the trend has been maintained.  There have been a number of cases of people elected from the National Movement party list moving to the Georgian Dream coalition.  We think that if the existing local self-government system and practice is maintained, this will create similar problems for the country and society generally and the ruling party specifically.

It is a fact that the development of democracy and law-governed state as well as the formation of free society is impossible without having actual self-government.  Therefore, before the 2014 local government election, we consider necessary to:

• Launch broad public debates on the local authorities with all stakeholders and general public involved in the debates;
• Develop and introduce administrative-territorial organization of the country, which will maximally meet the requirements of all parts, cities, towns, rural areas of the country and contribute to building closer relations between the local authorities and population;
• Release the local authorities from political pressure.  Clearly define the rules (regulations) for their formation (elections) and operation.  Moreover, they should be provided with legal mechanisms for the protection of their rights;
• Draw clear distinction between the powers of the country’s government and local authorities as well as their human and material (financial and property) resources.  Rule out any illegal attempts of interference with the  local government by the state;
• Develop institutionalized mechanisms of public control over local self-governments, which will help prevent any attempts of manipulating public interests by any political force.

We, non-governmental organizations welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister of Georgia on 24 December, 2012 on launching the comprehensive decentralization process and hope that the current government will not repeat the mistakes made by their predecessors.

Moreover, we call on the government and political parties to prevent further increase in tensions on the local level, make urgent measures to avert any attempts of manipulation of public interests and to introduce the European type of self-government.


Signatory organizations:

International Center for Civil Culture

Open Society Georgia Foundation

Local Democracy S Network

Caucasian Institute for Economic and Social Research

Human Rights Center

Civil Society Institute

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

Coalition ‘Healthy Universe’

Public Movement ‘Multinational Georgia’

‘Tiflis Hamqari

Regional Media Association

Coalition ‘For Freedom of Choice’

Civil Integration Foundation

Democrat Meskhs’ Union

Lanchkhuti Information Center

Gori Information Center

Georgian Media Club

Youth Center ‘Georgia’

Association – Public for Development

ArgoMedia’ Association

Non-Formal Network of Lentekhi and Tsageri Women

Association ‘Media & Society’