We would like to express our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, the Government and the people of the United Kingdom on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty will be remembered as an outstanding leader, a person of unmatched dignity, always loyal to her duty and who played an important role in the history of both the United Kingdom and the world.

Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, as well as of entire world.

Ruling party overrides presidential Veto on Surveillance Law

The ruling party spearheaded the effort at the Parliament of Georgia to override President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto of the controversial surveillance law initially adopted by the Georgian Dream Parliament on June 7. 79 MPs voted to override, 27 voted against.

Speaking at the session, President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Giorgi Mskhiladze said the vote was “undermining Georgia’s democratic future” and decried the vote taking place at the moment when the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting is taking place in Brussels, attended by PM Irakli Gharibashvili.

Head of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili (Georgian Dream) stated that the President failed to provide “motivated reasons” for her veto and thus “failed to fulfill the legal and Constitutional demands even at this elementary level.”

The amendments extends the maximum surveillance period from six to nine months and made it possible to carry out covert investigative activities in connection with an additional 27 offenses. In reference to 77 offenses, the obligation to notify an individual subject of spying may be delayed for years.

At the time of her veto, President Zurabishvili stated “There can be no law passed these days that further restrict human rights, when on the contrary we are asked to give more guarantees in this direction, to be more democratic, more European.”

The Venice Commission, an advisory body to the Council of Europe, published an Urgent Opinion on the bill following the President’s veto which criticized the law’s adoption in a “hasty procedure” and urged authorities to re-examine the legislation.

Carl Hartzell, then EU Ambassador to Georgia, also raised concerns regarding the legislation on 9 June when he stated that the bill “significantly reduces Georgian citizens’ right to privacy.”

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia published a critical statement on 7 September in response to Parliament’s decision to override President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto of the controversial surveillance law which emphasized that the decision “moves Georgia away from European integration, not towards it.”

Georgia’s Defense Chief Attends Ukraine Defense Contact Group Meeting

Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze participated in a meeting of the U.S-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milly, on 8 September.

During his address at the meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized, “We’re here because we refuse to live in a world where big powers trample borders by force. Our support for Ukraine’s bedrock right to defend itself doesn’t waver based on any given clash.”

As per to the Ministry of Defense, this is the second time that Minister Burchuladze is taking part in a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which was created after Russia invaded Ukraine in order to assess its needs, as well as the security challenges facing the U.S. and its allies.

CRRC: 1/3 of Georgians believe Government inaction, polarization to blame for missed EU membership candidate status

A new survey by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) on the Georgia population’s attitude towards EU candidate status and related issues found that a fifth (18%) cited the inaction of the government, while an equal 14% cited political polarization and non-fulfillment of membership candidacy requirements as the reason that the country did not receive candidate status.

Another third (30%) of the population could not name a reason for the European Commission’s decision, while 8% of the population stated that the opposition prevented the country from receiving candidacy. 4% believe it’s because Georgia refuses to start a war with Russia, while 3% blame Russia. Overall, 76% of Georgians had heard of the fact that Georgia did not receive EU candidate status.

A 1 percent blamed it on each – the ruling party’s refusal to implement the EU-brokered 19 April agreement, the informal rule of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the imprisonment of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukraine’s position in relation to Georgia, and lastly, that the EU simply does not need Georgia.

Asked whether they believe in the narrative promoted by the ruling party that the West asked Georgia to start a war with Russia, a majority of the public stated that they do not. Nor do they believe that EU candidate status was dependent on starting a war with Russia.

In answer to whether Georgia would receive candidate status for starting a war with Russia, 60% of the population believes that it is somewhat false or entirely false. 17% meanwhile believe that it is somewhat true or entirely true. 23% did not have an opinion on the matter.

According to the CRRC survey, a large part of the population (45%) does not expect that the Georgian government will carry out the necessary reforms to receive EU candidacy by the end of the year, of that group, 17% do not expect it at all while 29% feel there is a higher chance of it not happening. 29% however, believe or somewhat believe that the reforms will be carried out.

When respondents were asked about the demand voiced by pro-Europe protestors for a technical government to be established to oversee reforms, 42% said it was an unacceptable request, while 29% believed it to be acceptable, and 26% did not have an opinion.

When the European Commission released its recommendations, specifically in regards to deoligarchization, the ruling Georgian Dream party and members of the public, civil society organizations, and opposition parties split on the issue of whether ex-PM and ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili is an oligarch or not. The ruling party has maintained the strict line that it is not Ivanishvili that the recommendation has in mind.

When CRRC asked the public who the European Commission had in mind when recommending deoligarchization, more than half of the respondents did not know who it had in mind. however, those who named someone, however, most often (35%) cited Ivanishvili. 3% believed the recommendation was directed at Saakashvili, his ex-Defense Minister, and the owner of Formula TV, Davit Kezerashvili. 2 percentage points believe that it was issued in reference to TBC Bank and Lelo for Georgia party founder Mamuka Khazaradze and and same figure for businessman Vano Chkhartishvili.

 

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EGI Political Digest was created with support from Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC). The views and opinions expressed in this Digest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EGI or SILC.

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