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On January 2014, at the second hearing of the Code of Local Self-Government at the Parliament, Member of the Parliamentary Minority, Giorgi Tevdoradze, declared: “In line with the internationally recognised criteria, one of the parameters defining a self-governing city is its population. This draft law, unlike the previous one, completely neglects this criterion.”

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took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

Currently, the Organic Law of Georgia on Local Self-Government recognises those cities as self-governing ones that did not belong to any region by 1 January 2006 (Article 65, Paragraph 2). At present, the self-governing cities are:  Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti, Batumi and Sokhumi.

In line with the initial version of the Code of Local Self-Government discussed by the Parliament, a city is recognised as self-governing if it meets certain criteria. In particular, according to the Code:  “A self-governing city is a type of settlement with no less than 15,000 registered inhabitants, has the potential for urban attraction and development, and has gained the status of a self-governing city. By the resolution of the Georgian Parliament, the status of a self-governing city can also be granted to a city with less than 15,000 registered inhabitants” (Article 3, Paragraph 2).

Therefore, provided this version was enacted, the status of a self-governing city could be granted to cities having more than 15,000 registered inhabitants and meeting the abovementioned criteria or the Parliament could grant this status by resolution (neglecting the population criterion) as an exception.

However, in the organic draft bill of the Code of Local Self-Government adopted by the second hearing, the status of the self-governing city is not defined by any criteria (it is of note that this norm was also accepted by the Parliament at the third hearing and it entered in the final version of the draft bill that was adopted later). The transitional provisions enumerate the cities that will be granted (or already gained) the status of self-governing cities:  Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batumi (having the status acquired before) and Telavi, Ozurgeti, Zugdidi, Gori, Mtskheta and Akhaltsikhe (will gain the status).

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inquired into the international practice of granting the status of a self-governing city. Several examples of EU member states are discussed as follows:

Italy

Italy has three levels of self-government:  the regions (a total of 20 regions with five regions defined as being of special status), the provinces (a total of 107 provinces) and the municipalities (8,094).  Alongside the abovementioned units, there is the concept of the metropolitan cities (a total of nine units) as further autonomous entities that are entitled in the law (Decreto Legislativo 18 agosto 2000, n. 267). Metropolitan (self-governing) cities are:  Turin, Milan, Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Bari and Naples. Therefore, there are no specific criteria for getting the status of a self-governing city in Italy; this issue is regulated by the law.

Slovakia

In Slovakia, self-government operates in two tiers – local and regional. The regional tier of self-government consists of eight regions while the local tier of the self-government consists of 2,892 local governments. A total of 138 cities have the status of self-governing cities (mesto) granted by the Parliament of Slovakia to the municipalities representing the administrative, economic and cultural centres and offering the public service to the neighbouring cities.

Additionally, the National Council of the Slovak Republic may declare a municipality to be a self-governing city on a proposal by the government. The prerequisites for a municipality to be declared as a self-governing city are as follows:  the municipality in question is an economic, cultural and administrative centre or centre of tourism or spa resort; provides services for the residents of surrounding municipalities, is an urban built-up environment and has at least 5,000 inhabitants. As becomes evident, there are a number of criteria in Slovakia for granting the status of a self-governing city.

Moreover, a special law regulates the status of the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava (Law 377/1990) and the second largest city of Košice (Law 401/1990).

  Czech Republic

The Czech Republic consists of 14 regions (including Prague representing both a city and a region) and 6,249 municipalities. Act No 128/200 Coll., on Municipalities is the Law on Municipalities featuring 20 cities but with no criteria about granting the status of a self-governing city.

Poland Poland is divided into 16 regions (województwo), 379 counties (powiat) and 2,479 municipalities (gmina). Of the 379 counties, 65 are urban municipalities with the special status of a city with county rights (

self-governing city). Also, the capital city of Warsaw enjoys a special status.

According to the Polish legislation on the self-governing cities, a city with county rights must have at least 100,000 inhabitants.

Conclusion

After verifying Giorgi Tevdoradze’s statement, we found out that the certain countries set a criterion of the number of inhabitants for granting the status of a self-governing city. However, the international practice also envisages other non-quantitative indicators such as economic, cultural, administrative and other related characteristics. Furthermore, there might be no criteria at all and the status of a self-governing city may be granted based upon the local legislation. This practice is well shown from the abovementioned examples.

Consequently, Giorgi Tevdoradze is right when declaring that the number of inhabitants is one of the criteria for granting such a status. He is also speaking the truth about the criterion of the number of inhabitants not being considered in the first version of the draft bill of the Law of Georgia on Local Self-Government, different from the second edition. In spite of all the abovementioned, the context of Tevdoradze’s statement is wrong: he neglects the other criteria as well as the international experience for granting the status of a self-governing city without any specific requirements.

Based upon the facts analysed in the article, we conclude that Giorgi Tevdoradze’s statement:  “In line with the internationally recognised criteria, one of the parameters defining a self-governing city is its population. This draft law, unlike the previous one, completely neglects this criterion,” is MOSTLY TRUE.