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On 31 July 2014, Parliamentary Majority MP, Giorgi Volski, made a statement: “According to the newly adopted law on local governments, each community or union of communities can now form its own local government. An indispensable criterion for forming local governments is the knowledge of the official national language of Georgia.”

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and looked into the role of the official national language in forming a local government.

On 2 February 2014, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the organic Law on Local Government Code.

The Law determines the legal basis for self-government implementation, the powers of local government bodies, the rules for their form and functioning, their finances and property and their relations with citizens, central government structures and legal bodies of public law. It also determines the rules for central government control on local government structures and the implementation of direct central governance (Article 1).

Local governments can be formed in the municipalities – self-governing cities and communities.

According to the Code, the working language of the municipality structures is the official national language of Georgia (Article 9).

The 2005 organic Law on Local Government Code (invalid since 4 July 2014) also determined the official national language of Georgia as the working language of the municipality structures (Article 9).

According to the Constitution of Georgia, the official national language of Georgia is Georgian and in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia – also Abkhazian (Article 8).

Chapter two of the Local Government Code determines the basis for forming local government. According to the Code, there are two main bases for forming local government: a) division of a municipality into two or more municipalities and b) merging two or more neighbouring municipalities (Article 10.1).

In addition, the Government of Georgia is authorised, upon the basis of consultation with the municipality councils and population upon its own initiative or upon the basis of the mediation by the municipality council and consultation with the municipality population, to address the Parliament of Georgia with the request for the creation or abolition of the municipality (Article 10.2).

The municipalities themselves can also address appropriate government commissions with the request for the creation of the municipality (Article 10.5).

To create a municipality, the government commission must be presented with certain documents which include: justification of the need for the division or merger of the municipalities and a list of the settlements and population of the requested municipality, etc. (Article 10.3). According to Article 9 of the Code, all of the aforementioned documents must be in Georgian.

Conclusion

According to the Local Government Code, Georgian is the working language of all municipality structures. In the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, it is Abkhazian as well as Georgian.

Even though the Code does not specify that the knowledge of the official national language is mandatory for the creation of the municipality, it is clear that the normal functioning of a municipality requires the existence of municipality structures which, according to the same Code, must use the official national language in their work. Hence, we can say that the knowledge of Georgian and in the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia – Abkhazian, is necessary for the creation of a municipality.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Volski’s statement: “An indispensable criterion for forming local governments is the knowledge of the official national language of Georgia,” is TRUE.