Parliament Speaker accuses President of “attacks” on National Bank, “neglect” of Constitution

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Tuesday responded to the President's statements on the country’s National Bank. Photo: Shalva Papuashvili’s Facebook, 26 Sep 2023 - 14:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Tuesday accused the country’s President Salome Zourabichvili of “attacking” the National Bank and “neglecting” the Constitution, following her unauthorised foreign visits earlier this month and allegations of the Bank having made a “Russian decision” by exempting Georgian citizens from international sanctions without judgement of domestic courts last week.

In her press comments, Papuashvili claimed the President’s messages ahead of the European Union’s decision later this year on whether to grant Tbilisi its membership candidate status could harm the country’s European aspirations. 

What will the President answer to her colleagues in the EU when they ask her whether it was really a Russian decision? Will she tell them - ‘yes it is, but accept us in the bloc anyway’, or ‘it is not and I was just misleading the Georgian public’?”, Papuashvili said, citing statements by the Bank’s Acting President and the ruling party that sanctioning Georgian citizens without rulings by domestic courts would violate the country’s Constitution and the presumption of innocence. 

The official also slammed the President for her comments on Monday, in which she claimed an “ugly practice” of selection of candidates for the National Bank’s Council, after the ruling party on Thursday said it was “forced” to back the President-nominated two figures in the Council to “prevent the collapse” of the financial institution due to a lack of top bankers. 

In her social media post, the President said the Parliament had earlier rejected a “professional candidate” nominated by her, while later backed the candidates who have faced public criticism for lacking or having no qualification in finances. 

Papuashvili said the President’s claims were a “direct attack” on acting members of the NBG Council, and added Zourabichvili had “crossed human, and not only constitutional, boundaries”. 

The Council is composed of nine members and is capable of fulfilling its duties with at least five members. 

The ruling Georgian Dream party said after electing the new members the body would have been left without the necessary numbers if the legislative body failed to elect them following the resignation of three Vice Presidents from the NBG after the Bank’s Acting President Natia Turnava on Tuesday signed the controversial decree. 

President Zourabichvili’s Parliamentary Secretary confirmed on Thursday she had made an attempt to recall her candidates until the Bank annulled the decree, which on Monday Zourabichvili called a “Russian decision”. 

The decree itself came following the United States sanctioning of Otar Partskhaladze, a former Prosecutor General in 2013 under the Georgian Dream Government, for alleged cooperation with Russian intelligence.