The new role of local authorities in Georgia
Giga Chogovadze, Mayor of Kutaisi
Mr. Chogovadze started by explaining some important events in the recent history of the country that has influenced the current local governance System. Since 1999, Georgia has entered a transitional period, also in the area of local governance. Since the Rose Revolution in 2003, there have been many changes in the role of local authorities which would not have been possible in the former political system.
An important step was the ratification- of the law on local governance in July 2004. Mr. Mikhail Saakashvili, the President of Georgia and Mr. Rourounaishvili, present at the Strasbourg meeting, were the head of the responsible commission. Before the ratification of this initiative, the Georgian population as well as Opposition parties and NGOs were consulted. The process was also supported by the Council of Europe.
According to Mr. Chogovadze, the ratification of the law stresses the importance of developing and supporting local governance. It notably includes:
• The independence of local authorities
• Local authorities provide local Services with their own resources
• The abolishment of the district level and the development of the city level
• The amalgamation of local units
Debates are taking place on the Statutes of local administrative units of cities and regions which do not wish to take part in these changes due to political or territorial issues. This autumn, a summary will be drawn on these changes.
Mr. Chogovadze underlined that he welcomes the opening of a Local Democracy Agency in Kutaisi and he believes that it will the city's development. The links with other European regions are essential for this as are the exchange of best practices with the partners. He emphasized the strong will to assist the future Agency in his city wherever possible.