On 15 December 2013, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, held a special Government Meeting. At the Meeting the attending officials discussed the consequences of the disasters caused by the bad weather lasting for several days in Georgia as well as the preventive measures for such situations. The Meeting was attended by the Ministers of Energy, Regional Development and Infrastructure, Internal Affairs, and Security as well as the Head of the Department of Relations with Regions and Local Self-Governing Units of the State Chancellery.
After the Government Meeting the Prime Minister declared: “As you know, there has never been and still is no Crisis Management Centre in Georgia. The said Crisis Management Centre will be established in the nearest days.”FactCheck
inquired whether or not there had ever been any governmental unit coordinating the management of emergency situations in the country.
According to Article 99 of the Constitution of Georgia, the National Security Council was set up for organising the military construction and defence of the country; the Council is guided by the President of Georgia. The Organic Law of Georgia on the National Security Council defines the members of the Council as well as its authority and activities. According to Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the abovementioned Law, the permanent members of the Council are: the Prime Minister of Georgia and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Internal Affairs, and Finance with the National Security Advisor to the President of Georgia serving as the Secretary of the National Security Council. The Speaker of the Parliament also participates in the working meetings of the Council on a regular basis although the Speaker is not a permanent member.On 17 May 2011, the abovementioned Law was amended. In particular, Article 1 was supplemented by Sub-paragraph V1 as well as Article 4 was supplemented by Sub-paragraphs, I1, I2, I3.
The abovementioned Sub-paragraphs note that the National Security Council coordinates the crisis management of any threat posed to national interests at the highest political level. The Secretary of the Council controls and coordinates the implementation of legal acts and orders of the President concerning the crisis management of any threat posed to national interests.
After being amended, Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the Organic Law of Georgia on the National Security Council was outlined as follows: “The National Security Council is an advisory body of the President of Georgia for decision-making on strategic questions of the organisation of military construction and defence, internal and foreign policy related to the security of the country, maintenance of stability, law and order, and the crisis management of any threat posed to national interests and security.”
Currently, the process of amending the Law of Georgia on the National Security Council is underway to be presented to the Parliament. One of the initiators of the abovementioned project is the Chairman of the Defence and Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili. We contacted Sesiashvili to inquire about the functions of the National Security Council provided the abovementioned amendments come into effect.
According to Irakli Sesiashvili, based upon the respective changes, the main function of the National Security Council will comprise supporting defence and military construction. Sesiashvili explained that six Ministers are currently permanent members of the Council. After the amendments come into force, only three Ministers will comprise the Council as permanent members while three others will be appointed by the President upon necessity. In addition, due to the limitations of the authority of the National Security Council, the authority of the Council Secretary is also diminished. Consequently, the Secretary will no longer exercise the authority to coordinate the crisis management of any threat posed to national interests at the highest political level.
Irakli Sesiashvili explained further that the National Security Council has always been and still remains an advisory body of the President of Georgia. However, according to Sesiashvili, before the amendments are made to the Law, the authority of the Council comprises the strategic management of the country’s crisis situations.
As for the new Crisis Management Centre, it will serve as an operational headquarters for eliminating crisis situations in the country. The Centre will be comprised of the operative services of various Ministries and manage crisis situations with joint efforts.On 27 December 2013, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, visited the TV show, Position,
hosted by Nino Shubladze. The Prime Minister summarized the last year and spoke about the formation of the new National Security and Crisis Management Council. According to Gharibashvili, he has already appointed the Secretary for the National Security and Crisis Management Council. The Head of the Counterintelligence Office, Mindia Janelidze, was selected for the abovementioned position.
The Council was formed upon the basis of a Resolution of the Government of Georgia dated 6 January 2013. The aforementioned Resolution was formulated in accordance with Paragraph Y of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Law of Georgia on the Structure, Powers and Order of Activity of the Government of Georgia.
The provision of the abovementioned document states that the National Security and Crisis Management Council is formed for political decision-making on the internal and foreign policy related to national security and ensuring stability and law and order on strategic issues as well as for the crisis management of any threat posed to national interests.
The aforementioned document also outlines the authority and the composition of the Council as well as the basis for assembling and holding its meetings. In addition, the document mentions the operational centre for crisis management (being a part of the Council) and its functions.
Irakli Gharibashvili also spoke of the functions of the new Council. According to the Prime Minister, the Council will work on identifying and preventing any threats at both strategic and tactical levels. Additionally, a Crisis Management Centre will also be established. It will be a permanent operational headquarters with regulations outlined in advance about the involvement of various units in various cases of crisis management and the results obtained.
The Prime Minister also elaborated about the needs of creating the National Security and Crisis Management Council under the current Constitution. In particular: “After the Constitutional amendments, the country has transferred to the Parliamentary form of government. The current National Security Council still remains under the supervision of the President whose authorities are limited. The new Council will be subordinate to the Prime Minister. The current Council will work on the defence and military construction envisioned by the new Constitution while the newly-formed Council will be responsible for defining the internal and foreign policy of the country. This was the recommendation of our partners.”
We tried to obtain more comprehensive and detailed information about the functions of the Crisis Management Centre and addressed the Public Relations Office of the State Chancellery for this purpose. We inquired about the person or unit that would be directly coordinating the formation of the Crisis Management Centre to get concrete information about the structure, format and the country model according to which the Centre would operate. Despite our attempts, we could not find any person able to provide the abovementioned information.
The research revealed that pursuant to the Organic Law of Georgia on the National Security Council, the National Security Council is an advisory unit of the President of Georgia. Based upon the amendments to the Law entered into effect on 17 May 2011, the National Security Council was recognised as the main body responsible for coordinating any crisis situation at the strategic level. Based upon the Constitutional amendments, a new Council is being formed that will operate alongside the already existing National Security Council and be subordinate to the Prime Minister. With regard to this matter, the PM notes that the old Council will be responsible for defence while the new one will be authorised to define internal and foreign policy. This notwithstanding, it still remains unclear in what manner the two bodies will share the responsibilities or how exactly they will be different from one another. This ambiguity entails a legitimate belief that the newly-formed Council will simply duplicate the old one. However, at this stage, such conclusions might be too premature and time will show how the two similar units are foreseen to operate in practice.As for the Crisis Management Centre incorporated into the new Council, according to FactCheck’s
information it represents a novelty in Georgia and is planned to be a permanent operational headquarters comprised of the operative services of various Ministries. Preliminarily defined regulations will determine which bodies will be involved in the elimination of specific sorts of critical situations. Despite the fact that the Ministries always had and still have their own operative services, a permanent unified operational headquarters, where the functions of the operative services would be specified in advance, has never before existed in Georgia.Based upon the facts analysed throughout the article, we conclude that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement: “As you know, there has never been and still is no Crisis Management Centre in Georgia. The said Crisis Management Centre will be established in the nearest days,” is MOSTLY TRUE.