On October 13, the Atlantic Council Task Force on Georgia, co-chaired by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham, released a major new report on Georgia at an event held on Capitol Hill, arguing for intensified domestic reform and a new sense of common purpose and clarity from the United States and Europe to work toward a democratic Georgia embedded in the institutions of the West.
Georgia faces critical tests at home–parliamentary elections in 2012 and a presidential contest in 2013—and mounting external pressure as Russia occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia and seeks to destabilize Georgia. Against this background, Georgia must demonstrate its commitment to further its democracy, and the United States and Europe must redouble their efforts to support Georgia, including at the May 2012 Chicago NATO summit. The task force report, Georgia in the West: A Policy Road Map to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic Future, lays out a series of recommendations to support those ends.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters. Established in 1990, the commission has played a leading role in the adoption of constitutions that conform to the standards of Europe’s constitutional heritage.
Initially conceived as a tool for emergency constitutional engineering, the commission has become an internationally recognised independent legal think-tank. Today it contributes to the dissemination of the European constitutional heritage, based on the continent’s fundamental legal values while continuing to provide “constitutional first-aid” to individual states. The Venice Commission also plays a unique and unrivalled role in crisis management and conflict prevention through constitution building and advice.
The Commission meets in plenary four times a year – in March, June, October and December – in Venice, in Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista.
You can see Venice Commission’s forthcoming opinion on the new Georgian legislation: http://www.venice.coe.int/site/dynamics/N_Opinion_ef.asp?L=E&CID=40
Political Rights Score: 4
Civil Liberties Score: 3
Status: Partly Free
The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, which are examined in separate reports.
Georgia’s civil liberties rating improved from 4 to 3 due to a reduction in the political instability the country confronted in the aftermath of the 2008 Russian invasion, as well as greater media diversity, including the launch of satellite broadcasts by the opposition television station Maestro.
In 2010, Georgia began to recover from the conflict and political tumult of previous years, which among other effects had knocked its reform ambitions off course. Local elections held in May 2010 were considered improvements over earlier polls, and the campaign took place in a generally open media environment. Georgia’s relations with Russia remained poor in 2010, with Russian troops still occupying a considerable portion of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory.