Statement of civil society and media organizations regarding plans to abolish seven self-governing cities - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Statement of civil society and media organizations regarding plans to abolish seven self-governing cities

31 March, 2017

Establishment of an effective local government has been one of the main promises of the Georgian Dream government. In 2013, the Georgian Government approved the Guiding Principles of the Strategy for Decentralization and Development of Local Government, which defines the directions and stages of reform. In 2014, the Georgian Parliament adopted the Local Governance Code. The first stage of the reform involved increasing the number of self-governing cities and direct election of mayors/governors. These changes were positively assessed by the Council of Europe and other international organizations, and served as basis for the country’s improved ranking in the Freedom House Georgia 2015 Country Report. Consequently, we did not have any cause to doubt that the government would implement the remainder of its own local government strategy, including the territorial optimization of municipalities.

We also hoped that the ongoing constitutional reform would serve as an opportunity to institutionally strengthen the local government. However, instead, we hear contradictory statements from the representatives of the ruling party regarding government plans to abolish the self-governing status of 7 cities, which is a clear deviation from the declared principles of the reform.

Development of self-governing cities is an important focus of socio-economic development worldwide. For Georgia, it is not only an important prerequisite for urban, social and economic development, but also an essential part of transitioning to the European model of governance. The abolition of self-governing cities and their reunification with community municipalities will hamper the development of both urban and rural areas.

A city that does not have a local government elected by and therefore accountable to its citizens, and that does not have its own income, property and budget, is left without any real prospects for development.

Reducing the number of self-governing cities will be a step backward for the local government reform, as well as the overall development of the country. Most importantly, this change will distance the population and the government from each other, stop ongoing projects and lower the standard of democracy in Georgia.

Therefore, we believe that abolishing of self-governing municipalities created in 2014 is absolutely inadmissible. We urge the government to clearly state its position and not to make decisions that halt the ongoing development process.

1. Regional Development Center

2. Local Democracy Network Center

3. Civitas Georgica

4. Open Society Georgia Foundation

5. International Center for Civil Culture

6. Georgian Media Club

7. Management Systems Development Center

8. Consultation and Training Center

9. Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia

10. Human Rights Center

11. Transparency International Georgia

12. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

13. Community Development Center

14. Civil Development Agency

15. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

16. Taso Foundation

17. Centers for Civic Engagement

18. Studio Re

19. Gori Information Center (Gori)

20 Friendship Bridge Kartlosi (Gori)

21. Gori Community Development Center (Gori)

22. Shida Kartli Institute for Democratic Development (Gori)

23. Society Biliki (Gori)

24. Gori Youth Movement Droa (Gori)

25. Gori Photographers Club (Gori)

26. Shida Kartli Veterinary Association (Gori)

27. Gori Downtown (Gori)

28. Welfare and Development Center (Gori)

29. House Without Borders (Gori)

30. Ozurgeti Young Scientists Club (Ozurgeti)

31. Guria Youth Resource Center (Ozurgeti)

32. Georgian Democratic Development Union (Ozurgeti)

33. Women for Regional Development (Ozurgeti)

34. Ozurgeti Rural Council (Ozurgeti)

35. Saunje (Zugdidi)

36. Environmental Ecological Protection Association DEA (Zugdidi)

37. Community Fund Egrisi (Zugdidi)

38. Community Fund Nepa (Zugdidi)

39. Union of Democrat Meskhetians (Akhaltsikhe)

40. Akhaltsikhe Youth Center (Akhaltsikhe)

41. Association Toleranti (Akhaltsikhe)

42. Kakheti Civil League (Telavi)

43. Georgian Society of Nature Lovers (Telavi)

44. Georgian Association of Protection of Public Interests (Telavi)

45. Non-Governmental Organization - Supporting People (Telavi)

46. ​​Public Union of Citizens Nadikvari - Friendship for Development (Telavi)

47. Step towards the Future (Gori, Telavi)

48. Anti-Violence Network of Georgia - Mtskheta-Mtianeti Regional Committee (Mtskheta)

49. Association Zekari (Ambrolauri)

50. Institute of Democracy (Batumi)

51. Free Journalists House (Batumi)

52. Deserving Old Age (Kobuleti)

53. Senaki Rural Council (Senaki)

54. Lanchkhuti Information Center (Lanchkhuti)

55. Lanchkhuti Rural Council (Lanchkhuti)

56. Chokhatauri Rural Council (Chokhatauri)

57. Kutaisi Information Center (Kutaisi)

58. Europe is Our Home (Kutaisi)

59. Zestaponi Rural Council (Zestafoni)

60. Nabiji (Kharagauli)

61. Tkibuli Development Foundation (Tkibuli)

62. Khashuri Rural Council (Khashuri)

63. We - for a Healthy Future (Tserovani, IDP settlement)

64. For a Better Future (Tserovani, IDP settlement)

65. Association Spektri (Sagarejo)

66. Civic Initiative (Tsnori)

67. Community Organization Nukriani (Sighnaghi)

68. Community Union Hereti (Lagodekhi)

69. Community Fund Leli (Lagodekhi)

70. Demosi (Rustavi)

71. Sika - Georgian Association of Educational Initiatives (Rustavi)

72. Society of Democratic Women of Marneuli (Marneuli)

73. Bolnisi Language House (Bolnisi)

74. Dusheti Development Foundation (Dusheti)

75. Stepantsminda (Stepantsminda)

76. Georgian Rural Council

77. Association Reform in Psychiatry

78. Union Parents’ Support

79. Union of Parents of Children with Disabilities

80. Georgian Mental Health Association

81. Association Social Umbrella

82. Association for Development of Professional and Inclusive Education

83. Georgian Regional Media Association

84. Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters

85. Media Monitoring Center of Georgia

86. POST-Alioni (Guria)

87. Media House Guria News (Guria)

88. Guria Press Club (Guria)

89. Media House Guria Moambe (Guria)

90. TV Company Guria (Guria)

91. Newspaper Zugdidi (Samegrelo)

92. TV Company Odishi (Samegrelo)

93. TV Company Ninth Wave (Samegrelo)

94. TV Company Jikha (Samegrelo)

95. TV Company Kolkheti 89 (Samegrelo)

96. TV company Egrisi (Samegrelo)

97. TV 25 (Adjara)

98. Akhali Gazeti (Imereti)

99. Media House P.S. (Imereti)

100. Newspaper My Imereti (Imereti)

101. TV Company Rioni (Imereti)

102. TV Company Imervizia (Imereti)

103. TV Company Argo (Imereti)

104. TV company Zari (Imereti)

105. Newspaper Samkhretis Karibche (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

106. TV Company Borjomi (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

107. TV Company Channel 9 (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

108. TV company ATV12 (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

109. TV company Parvana (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

110. Media Center Kakheti (Kakheti)

111. Newspaper Kakhetis Khma (Kakheti)

112. Newspaper Spektri (Kakheti)

113. TV Company Gurjaani (Kakheti)

114. TV Company Tanamgzavri (Kakheti)

115. Shida Kartli Information Center (Shida Kartli)

116. TV Company Trialeti (Shida Kartli)

117. TV Company Dia (Shida Kartli)

118. Newspaper Trialeti Express (Kvemo Kartli)

119. Newspaper Didgorelebi (Kvemo Kartli)

120. Kvemo Kartli TV Company (Kvemo Kartli)

121. TV Company Marneuli (Kvemo Kartli)

122. TV Company Bolneli (Kvemo Kartli)