Let's sign the Petition - Visa Liberalization to Georgia
Georgian people highly relies on the decision of the Council of the European Union, scheduled for June 10, 2016 in Luxemburg, where the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the EU member states will make a decision on visa liberalization regime for Georgia.
Visa liberalization will enable Georgian citizens to travel freely in the Schengen area countries and will promote people to people contacts and bring Georgian citizens ever closer to the European values. Moreover, the decision is crucial shortly before the parliamentary election in Georgia to be held on October 8, 2016. The positive decision, on visa liberalization will strengthen Georgia’s commitment to European choice and will demonstrate to the citizens of Georgia tangible benefits of this choice.
According to the European Commission, Georgia has fully complied with the commitments of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan. Therefore, we call on the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the EU member states:
- To take into account the Fourth Progress Report prepared by European Commission, dated December 18, 2015, and its recommendations on the abolition of short-term visas for Georgia.
- Not to delay a decision on lifting the visa requirements to the next meeting.
- To discuss the case of Georgia based on an individualized approach, taking into account Georgia's fulfillment of the visa liberalization requirements and commitments, Georgia's forthcoming parliamentary elections and the effect of growing Russian “soft power” pressure on Georgia's European choice.
- To conduct its decision-making process according to the requirements and methodology defined by the Visa Liberalization Action Plan.
Link for signing the petition is here.
Georgia: Leading MEPs react to the refusal of the political parties to reach an agreement
In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
Georgia: progress made in fighting human trafficking, but improved victim identification and strengthened criminal justice response required
Strasbourg, 16.03.2021 – In its third report on Georgia’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Council of Europe’s anti-human trafficking monitoring body, GRETA, focuses on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. The report acknowledges progress in implementing the Convention but calls on the authorities to step up their efforts to investigate cases of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators to justice, making sure that victims receive compensation and support towards their rehabilitation.
Since the previous evaluation by GRETA, the Criminal Code of Georgia has been amended to ensure proper qualification of human trafficking offences. Further, the number of special mobile groups set up to carry out the preliminary identification of victims of trafficking was increased from three to four. The number of labour inspectors was also increased, and they received training on detecting cases of human trafficking and forced labour.
Victims of trafficking are entitled to free legal aid during criminal proceedings, which is provided by specifically trained lawyers. GRETA welcomes the existence of a specific legal provision on the non-punishment of victims of trafficking for offences they were compelled to commit, as well as the expansion of the victim and witness co-ordinator services.
However, GRETA considers that additional steps should be taken to ensure that victims and witnesses of human trafficking are provided with effective and appropriate protection from potential retaliation or intimidation. The authorities should further ensure that access to legal aid is guaranteed as soon as there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person is a victim of trafficking, before the persons concerned have to decide whether or not they want to co-operate with the authorities.
Only three victims of human trafficking have received compensation from perpetrators through civil proceedings, and there has been only one judgement in human trafficking cases resulting in the confiscation of assets, the report says. GRETA urges the authorities to take vigorous measures to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation for victims of trafficking, including by introducing a procedure through which victims are entitled to obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal trial, and making full use of the legislation on the freezing and forfeiture of offenders’ assets to secure compensation to victims of trafficking.
In the period 2015-2018, a total of 80 investigations were conducted into human trafficking cases, and there were 15 convictions. GRETA notes with concern that there have been no convictions for trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and urges the Georgian authorities to ensure that human trafficking cases are not re-qualified as other offences which carry lighter penalties.
GRETA is concerned by the decrease in the number of victims identified and the high threshold required to grant the status of victim of human trafficking. GRETA urges the authorities to take further steps to proactively identify victims of trafficking, including amongst foreign workers, asylum seekers and persons placed in immigration detention centres.
The Georgian authorities should also strengthen their efforts in the areas of prevention of child trafficking, paying increased attention to the link between trafficking in children and the use of information and communications technology.
Georgia is primarily a country of origin and, to a lesser extent, a country of destination and transit of victims of trafficking in human beings, according to the report. The total number of victims identified in the period 2015-2019 was 66. Until 2018, the majority of the identified victims were women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but in 2019 all identified victims were Georgian children, trafficked for the purpose of production of child sexual abuse images (23 girls aged from 8 to 18 years) or exploitation of begging (two boys and four girls).
The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. So far, forty-six of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as Belarus, a non-member state.
EU doubles contribution to COVAX to €1 billion to ensure safe and effective vaccines for low and middle-income countries
The European Union has announced today an additional €500 million for the COVAX Facility, doubling its contribution to date for the global initiative that is leading efforts to secure fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in low and middle-income countries. This new pledge brings us closer to achieving COVAX's target to deliver 1.3 billion doses for 92 low and middle income countries by the end of 2021. Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX with over €2.2 billion, including another €900 million pledged today by Germany.
Announcing the new contribution at the G7 virtual leaders' meeting, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Last year, as part of our Coronavirus Global Response, we committed to ensuring universal access to vaccines everywhere on Earth, for everyone who would need them. COVAX is best placed to help us reach this goal. This is why we decided to double the European Commission's contribution to COVAX, to €1 billion. With this new financial boost we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low and middle-income countries. Because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe.”
Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, added: “We are in a race against the virus and COVAX is our best hope that all our partners, in Africa and elsewhere, have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The EU has been leading efforts in international fora, such as the G20 and G7, to guarantee that collectively we ensure that COVID-19 vaccines become a global public good. This is why today we are doubling our support to COVAX.”
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, stressed: “Humanism and solidarity are essential values for Europe. These values have been our compass since the onset of the pandemic. The EU has invested close to €3 billion to pre-finance the production of safe and effective vaccines, which will benefit not only the EU but citizens across the world. Vaccines produced in Europe are now going all over the world and we as Team Europe are working to share doses secured under our advanced purchase agreements preferably through COVAX with the Western Balkans, Neighborhood and Africa – benefitting above all health workers and humanitarian needs.”
The contribution announced today is composed of a new €300 million EU grant and €200 million in guarantees by the European Fund for Sustainable Development plus (EFSD+) that will back a loan by the European Investment Bank. This is subject to the adoption of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) by the Council and the European Parliament. The EIB loan to be guaranteed by EFSD+ is subject to the approval of the EIB's Board of Directors. These funds will complement a previous €100 million grant and €400 million in guarantees from the EU budget.
To date, a total of 191 countries participate in the COVAX Facility, 92 of them low and middle-income economies eligible to get access to COVID-19 vaccines through Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Most of these are in Africa. Through these contributions, the Commission and its partners will secure purchase options for future COVID-19 vaccines for all the participants in the Facility.
Vaccines will be procured and delivered to countries by the UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO's Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines. The fast arrival of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has shown that multilateralism and multi-actor partnerships work to solve the most pressing problems of our time.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
The COVAX Facility aims to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion doses for low and middle-income country. It will help to develop a diversified portfolio of vaccines, negotiated with different suppliers, and covering different scientific technologies, delivery times and prices. The COVAX Facility is a risk-sharing mechanism: it reduces the risk for manufacturers who invest without being sure about future demand, and it reduces the risk that countries would fail to secure access to a viable vaccine.
The European Commission is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world, and to promote global health. This is why together with partners it has helped raised almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action in support of universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery. Team Europe's contribution was as follows: EU Member States (€3.1 billion), European Commission (over €1.4 billion) and EIB (almost €2 billion pledged in May and €4.9 billion pledged in June).
The EU's efforts to develop and produce an effective vaccine will benefit all in the global community. The EU investment in scaling up manufacturing capacity will be to the service of all countries in need. Through its Advanced Purchase Agreements, it requires manufacturers to make their production capacity available to supply all countries and calls for the free flow of vaccines and materials with no export restrictions. For instance, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-GSK, with whom the Commission concluded an Advanced Purchase Agreement in September, will endeavour to provide a significant portion of their vaccine supply through the COVAX facility.
Building on the EU Vaccines Strategy, the EU is in the process of setting up vaccine sharing mechanism to allow EU Member States to redirect some of the doses procured under the advanced purchased agreement, preferably through COVAX.
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The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"
Today we celebrate the signing of the two strategic treaties between Japan and GeorgiaToday we celebrate the signing of the two strategic treaties between Japan and Georgia, which will bring economic cooperation of the two countries to the next level: so-called “Investment Treaty” will significantly broaden the capabilities of economic partnership through liberalization of investment, while the so-called “Tax Treaty” will create beneficial environment for economic partnerships, through exemption from the double taxation for both countries. Those are the first such treaties since the independence of Georgia.Ambassador IMAMURA: “Georgia's favorable business environment has been highly acclaimed internationally and Japanese companies are becoming more interested in Georgia. The conclusion of these two treaties will enable Japanese businesses to invest in Georgia with more stability and it is expected that economic cooperation between Japan and Georgia will become more active.”The so-called “Investment Treaty” (Agreement between Japan and Georgia for the Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investment) was signed with the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia – Ms. Natia Turnava, while the so-called “Tax Treaty” (Convention between Japan and Georgia for the Elimination of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance) was signed with the Minister of Finance of Georgia – Ivane Matchavariani, on January 29/2021. Ambassador IMAMURA Akira was the signatory on behalf of the Government of Japan.
Grand Chamber ruling concerning an inter-State application
The Court has delivered its judgment in the inter-State case of Georgia v. Russia (II) concerning allegations by the Georgian government that certain administrative practices of the Russian Federation had breached the Convention, in the context of the armed conflict between the two States in August 2008.
In the Court’s view, the events which took place during the active phase of the hostilities (8 to 12 August 2008) did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. However, it held that the Russian Federation had exercised “effective control” over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the “buffer zone” during the period from 12 August to 10 October 2008, the date of the official withdrawal of the Russian troops. After that period, the strong Russian presence and the South Ossetian and Abkhazian authorities’ dependency on the Russian Federation indicated that there had been continued “effective control” over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Court therefore concluded that the events occurring after the cessation of hostilities – that is, following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 – had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It found a number of violations of the Convention.