At a news conference on Wednesday, President Salome Zourabichvili denounced Georgia’s National Bank (NBG) decision to amend its regulations that exempted Georgian citizens from being sanctioned without domestic court judgments.
“I regret the nomination of Natia Turnava, even I apologize for it,” the President said, adding she would have personally shared her stand with the NBG Acting President, “if she had not postponed our meeting today.”
According to Zourabichvili, “it was unacceptable that the NBG Acting President obeyed the threats against the National Bank”.
Georgian President urged Natia Turnava to resign as “she failed to protect the independence of the National Bank.”
“The National Bank of Georgia is one of the guarantors of the financial stability of the country and the cornerstone of the economic stability. NBG independence is the fundamental principle on which the activity of the National Bank of Georgia is based. Therefore, Article 68 of the Constitution protects this principle. Thus, I personally, as the president and guarantor of the Constitution, consider that it is my duty to protect the NBG independence,” Salome Zourabichvili has said.
The President also alleged Turnava had “submitted to threats” made by Georgian Dream Chair Irakli Kobakhidze, who earlier slammed the National Bank’s previous decision to restrict access of US-designated, former Prosecutor General of Georgia, Otar Partskhaladze to his assets and claimed the move had “directly contradicted the Constitution of Georgia and the presumption of innocence”.
“It was even more unacceptable that the Acting President submitted to such threats against the National Bank and the violation of its independence. I consider this to be an inadmissible step that goes against all principles and is an unworthy act. It was also a one-man decision, bypassing all members of the Board, Vice-Presidents, and ordinary members. Neither consultation was held, nor they were informed in advance. A series of today’s resignations, three vice presidents and one adviser to the president have already resigned, confirms this. As a result, NG already experienced some reputational damage, and, therefore, the country, and it was they who were supposed to take care of the NBG’s independence, the country’s reputation, and its financial and economic stability,” the President stated.
In addition, Zourabichvili noted it was time for the NBG Board to take responsibility and exercise its supervisory function.
“The NBG Board can and must declare a unilateral decision invalid. This will be its first real action to preserve the independence of the National Bank. This is possible despite the resignation of those three persons, all three vice-presidents because they have two more months to extend their mandate. That is, the resignation deadline is after two months. The NBG Board is fully functional and can make all kinds of decisions,” the President added.
The NBG, on September 19, lifted restricted access to bank assets and financial transactions to the US-designated former Georgian Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze, having emphasized that international sanctions should not apply to a Georgian citizen unless there is a guilty verdict in a relevant case issued by a Georgian court.
As NBG explained, it introduced amendments to the procedure for executing sanctions regimes to uphold the rights and freedoms of Georgian citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.
“The National Bank of Georgia reiterates its commitment to complying with international sanctions requirements while safeguarding the constitutional rights of its citizens,” it read.
On September 14, the Department of State announced the designation of individuals and entities to impose further costs in response to Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. The Department has designated “a Georgian-Russian oligarch, Otar Partskhaladze, pursuant to Section 1(a)(i) for operating or having operated in the management consulting sector of the Russian Federation economy.