Parliament never rubber-stamps recommendations from the Council of Europe, says speaker of parliament Davit Bakradze. Chair of CoE's Venice Commission said Georgia's ruling party had significantly changed a draft law they reviewed before introducing it to parliament.

TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian speaker of parliament says lawmakers never rubber-stamp laws after receiving advice from the Council of Europe.

Davit Bakradze was responding to criticism from a think tank that the ruling party manipulated the legislative process by changing a law after it had been submitted to the Council of Europe for advice.

He said Friday: ‘after the commission’s conclusion, certain changes will always be made to the bill, because it’s an issue for review in parliament.’

Bakradze’s comments came as a response to statements by the CoE’s Venice Commission chair Tomas Markert, who says that the Georgian parliament voted over a version of a bill which is significantly different from the version they had seen.

The draft of the changes to the law was sent to the Venice Commission in November of 2011. But the draft was significantly changed after the Venice Commission had finished its review of it.

During the parliamentary debate a completely new concept was introduced, that of ‘connected person’, which means someone who is connected to a political grop. There was also made an innovative change which made restriction which previsously only applied to political parties apply to private companies, organizations and even individuals.

At a January 26 press conference in Strasbourg, Tomas Markert said that the Venice Commission had not seen the latest draft of the changes in Georgia’s party financing law.

“We reviewed he bill in December and expressed our opinions regarding this bill. But later the same draft was voted over, and completely different changes were made to it and there are a number of additional restrictions in the new law,” Markert said.

The Georgian parliamentary speaker says that after the Venice Commission sent its recommendations, naturally, the bill goes through a parliamentary review process and changes will be made.

“The Venice Commission never sends an already prepared law, which we put a seal on here in parliament. I can simply advise you to go to the Venice Commission web page and learn the bill’s variation, which was sent and they signed, and if you compare this variation to the bill adopted by parliament, you’ll see that on the level of principles the Venice Commission discussed all the issues, which is reflected in the final variation,” he said.