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Issue #588

18.11.11 - 24.11.11

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Venice Commission assists with Georgia’s electoral code

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Author:  By Ani Asatiani

At the request of the Georgian Parliament, the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, is working to provide legal advice on the draft of Georgia’s new electoral code and plans to publish its final recommendations by December 2011.

The 141-page draft, which was worked out by the ruling party lawmakers is expected to replace the current 171 page electoral code, having been amended 46 times since its approval in 2001. According to the authors, the draft code is better structured than the existing one.

Key changes in the draft include the following provisions: the number of parliamentary seats will be increased to 190 (83 majoritarian seats and 107 proportional seats); Tbilisi will have 15 single-mandate constituencies; the voters’ list will be checked by an opposition-chaired group. These provisions were disapproved by the six opposition parties.

Director and Secretary of the Venice Commission, Thomas Markert, who is involved in the preparation of the Venice Commission opinions on constitutional reforms in Georgia, says that the Georgian Parliament has disregarded many of the recommendations of the Venice Commission. “The bill assumes a procedure that is too complicated for the parliament for changing the government no longer trusted by the parliament,” said Thomas Markert in Tbilisi.

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Cartu Bank claims discrimination, condemns new legislation

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Author:  By Tamar Khurtsia

Georgia’s Cartu Bank, a commercial bank owned by billionaire and aspiring opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili condemned the new legislative amendments that envision that commercial banks are no longer the first line mortgagers in the realization of mortgaged property. The bank said the changes made are discriminatory to Cartu Bank.

Ivanishvili, whose wealth is estimated at $5.5 billion by Forbes Magazine, announced his political ambitions last month, promising to defeat President Mikheil Saakashvili and his team through elections.

“Cartu Bank is held under politically motivated pressure and everything is done for the government to destroy the bank,” reads the statement of Cartu Bank released on November 14.

According to the announcement, the new legislative amendments comes into conflict with the Public Registry’s document by which it stipulates that each bank is responsible for issuing mortgage loans and putting the client’s property into mortgage.

Under the legislative amendments to the Sundry Legislative Acts of Georgia approved by the Parliament on October 28, if revenue liabilities are discovered before registering the mortgage loans and if the property is sold under compulsion, the tax liabilities will be covered first and then the bank’s.

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Commission to recheck voter lists

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President Mikheil Saakashvili signed a decree on November 15 to set up a state-funded 21-member commission for re-checking voter lists. This move is part of the electoral system reform deal signed by the ruling party and some opposition parties this summer.

The establishment of the commission is considered as a positive step in Georgia’s democratization efforts. The body will verify the correctness of the voter lists for the parliamentary election which will be held next year.

From the 21-member commission, seven are from the ruling party, while the other 14 members are representatives from the opposition political parties such as the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), parliamentary opposition group, the National Democratic Party, New Rights Party, Industry will save Georgia, Democratic Party of Georgia, Georgia’s European Democrats (formerly On Our Own party) and the Christian-Democratic People’s Party.

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Kokoity’s fate will become clear on November 27

If Jioyeva wins the elections, revenge will be inevitable

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Author:  By Zaza Jgharkava

As none of the 11 candidates managed to gather fifty- percent of votes in the South Ossetia’s recent defacto presidential elections, a run-off election must be held to reveal the president. On November 27, Moscow’s favorite Anatoly Bibilov and the opposition leader Alana Jioyeva will face each other. In the first round of elections, they both gathered almost the same amount of votes.

The fate of the Russian language was finally decided. According to the referendum results, the voters almost unanimously granted the Russian language the status of second state language.

The biggest story coming out of the November 13 elections in Tskhinvali was former Minister of Education Alana Jioyeva. Out of the 32,000 election participants, 25.37 percent voted for her. Anatoly Bibilov, the Emergency Situations Minister, received 25.44 percent of the votes.

According to the locals, the number of people voting for Jioyeva could have been much higher had Eduard Kokoity not set restrictions at the Rocky Tunnel and prohibited the opening of polling stations in Vladikavkaz where 17,000 Tskhinvali residents live.

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Tbilisi says EU foreign policy chief’s visits marks new stage in the relationships

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Author:  By Nino Edilashvili

Aiming to show the commitment of the European Union to the South Caucasus, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has paid an official visit in Tbilisi within the framework of her South Caucasus trip on November 16.

“Over the last year, in the context of the renewed European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, we have engaged in a process of significant strengthening of our relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, including through negotiations of Association Agreements,” Ashton said in Tbilisi.

During her Georgian trip, Ashton also met with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, as well as Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM).

According to Ashton, the European Union is “very keen” to see the three countries progress with the necessary reforms and with European values as the “guiding light.” She also underscored the importance taking steps forward in the conflict resolution process.

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