On December 14th, the meeting of the Inter-Factional Group and Working Group took place at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi. The aim of the meeting was presenting the results of the project “Supporting Involvement of the Parliament of Georgia in Open Government Partnership” and discussing implementation of the commitments laid out in Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016. In the end of the meeting, award ceremony was held for the participants of the competition “Open Parliament – Voice of Youth.”
The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Parliament of Georgia and international and non-governmental organizations. Tamar Kordzaia, the Head of the Inter-Factional Group opened the meeting and congratulated participants on the achieved successes within the project and expressed her gratitude towards the donor organizations and the participants of the project. Attendees were also greeted by the UNDP Governance Team Leader Gigi Bregadze and Programme Manager of Public Administration Reform at the European Union Delegation to Georgia Sophie Huet Guerriche.
Director of IDFI, Giorgi Kldiashvili talked about the successful activities carried out within the above-mentioned project, among them – Open Government Partnership’s Legislative Openness Working Group 2-day conference that took place in Tbilisi and in addition to the representatives of the legislative and executive bodies of Georgia, representatives of international organizations and NGOs located in Georgia, participants had come together from more than 32 OGP participant countries. Giorgi Kldiashvili highlighted the fact that the Inter-Factional Group of the Parliament of Georgia won the first OGP Government Champions Award among OGP countries and Georgian delegation was awarded with the prize at the Global OGP Summit 2015. At the conference mentioned above, Georgian Parliament was widely recognized for its success in achieving further openness, transparency and citizen involvement in legislative activities, thus, the leaders of the countries, members of the conference were eager to learn about Georgian experience. It should be noted that during the OGP Global Summit 2015 the Heads of IDFI along with the MP Tamar Kordzaia met with the President of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica – Rafael Ortiz Fábrega for exchanging experiences connected with development of Open Parliament Georgia Acton Plan and sharing information on civic engagement and involvement of NGOs in the legislative activities of the Parliament of Georgia. Giorgi Kldiashvili underlined the fact that the project “Supporting Involvement of Parliament of Georgia in Open Government Partnership” has been the most successful short-term project of the IDFI.
Tamar Kordzaia mentioned in her speech that the commitments set out in the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016 are feasible but at this stage obstacle to implementing the commitments is an absence of Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance which would be responsible on enforcing the implementation process. According to the MP, establishing a Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance (the author of the commitment is IDFI) will solve the above-mentioned problem. According to Tamar Kordzaia as a result of executed changes in the rules of procedure, the Council will be established before December 31st, 2015. Moreover, MP and a member of the Inter-Factional Group – Giorgi Kakhiani highlighted the importance of the Permanent Parliamentary Council for carrying out the commitments of the Action Plan in practice and confirmed there is a political will in the legislative body for establishing the Council since the topic is already being discussed.
Khatuna Gogorishvili expressed her idea that work of Permanent Parliamentary Council will not be effective if it is not supported by its own cabinet. She added that assigning a cabinet to the Permanent Parliamentary Council is very realistic especially when many politicians are getting bonus payments and stuff of public institutions is skyrocketing for no considerable reason. “Even though I represent Parliamentary minority and I am critical of additional costs, this is the case when appropriate financial support is important for the effective work of the Council.” – claimed Khatuna Gogorishvili. She also added that paying proper attention to forming the Council is vital since its members should be open and easy for communication.
During the meeting, representatives of IDFI, NDI, Staff of the Parliament, Transparency International – Georgia and GYLA talked about the commitments included in the Action Plan that they have initiated, achieved progress and the ways of implementing the commitments.
For instance, the Chairman of the Board of IDFI – Levan Avalishvili discussed initiatives of IDFI that are included in the Action Plan: Allowing comment on draft legislation (electronically and/or in writing); Submitting legislative proposals and initiatives electronically to the Parliament of Georgia and implementing its Support Mechanism through the Official Website of the Parliament of Georgia; Easing access to the Parliamentary information for Persons with disabilities; Posting documents on the website of the Parliament of Georgia in an editable format; and Establishing Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance.
Another very important topics of discussion was a Code of Ethics which National Democratic Institute had initiated and is included in the Action Plan. Code of Ethics is a very sensitive topic among the legislators. NDI declared their readiness to offer Parliament of Georgia technical assistance in the process of elaboration of the Code of Ethics, conducting public discussions, suggested involving OSCE expertise in the process and delivering a final draft of the Code.
Attendees agreed that working groups should be established to work on the categories of commitments that require similar technical execution so that the working groups precisely lay out the ways of implementing the specific commitments.
In the final part of the meeting, award ceremony of the participants of the competition “Open Parliament – Voice of Youth” took place. The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information conducted the competition within the scopes of the project “Supporting Involvement of Parliament of Georgia in the Open Government Partnership”. The goal was raising awareness of the students on the topics of parliamentary openness. Within the framework of the competition, students attended the training and visited the Parliament of Georgia in Tbilisi. In the final part of the competition, students had an opportunity to elaborate their own initiatives on parliamentary openness and present it to IDFI.
Institute received 15 initiatives from the participants of the competition and selected 5 outstanding ones. The author of the winner initiative – Nana Bagalishvili was awarded with the Kindle while other 4 winners: Ani Khachidze, Temur Ikoshvili, Merab Meladze and Giorgi Tsetskhladze were awarded with the Book Voucher. Director of IDFI Giorgi Kldiashvili, the UNDP Governance Team Leader Gigi Bregadze, Programme Manager of Public Administration Reform at the European Union Delegation to Georgia Sophie Huet Guerriche and Member of Georgian Parliament Giorgi Kakhiani greeted the students and awarded them with the certificates and awards.
It should be mentioned that the Inter-Factional Group of the Parliament of Georgia and the Open Parliament Georgia Working Group will discuss the winner initiative of the competition on the next joint meeting.