Eastern Neighbourhood: Forestry project highlights positive developments
Switzerland and Georgia strengthen cooperation in the field of migration
Switzerland and Georgia are strengthening their respective efforts to tackle irregular migration. State Secretary Mario Gattiker and Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration in Tbilisi on 16 September. Since 2018 Georgia is 5th on the list of countries of origin for asylum applications in Switzerland.However, Georgian nationals have almost no chance of being granted asylum in Switzerland. To resolve the challenge related to unfounded asylum applications, Switzerland and Georgia have implemented different measures andare closely collaborating in the field of migration.
On Monday, 16 September, State Secretary Mario Gattiker and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in tackling irregular migration. Since Georgian citizens are exempted from the visa requirement for the Schengen area, Switzerland has registered a sharp increase in unfounded asylum applications from Georgia (+87% in 2018 compared to 2016).
These applications have almost no chance of being accepted (refugee status recognition rate:0%). Moreover, certain persons lodging applications for asylum suffer from severe medical issues requiring urgent care, which complicates the return process.Since the visa liberalization, Switzerland has called on Georgia to take appropriate measures.On its side, Switzerland pursues a swift and consistent policy of return to the country of origin.
To address this phenomenon,Switzerland has, in collaboration with Georgia, put in place a number of measures. A process of cooperation has been established in May of this year between the State Secretariat for Migration,the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi and the Georgian Health Ministry,to enable the swift processing of asylum applications by Georgian nationals suffering from complex health issues. This cooperation process helps to swiftly identify the possibility of medical treatment in Georgia and consequently assess the person’s return. In that regard, after the talks with the Ministry of Health, Mario Gattiker visited an intensive care oncology unit at a hospital in the capital to see for himself the level of care in treating cancer patients.
Moreover, Switzerland and Georgia are committed to tightening border controls. In June, Switzerland seconded an official to the airport at Kutaisi (second largest city)for a month to support the local authorities in their tasks and to provide additional technical assistance on border controls at departure within the framework of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
On28 August, the Federal Council decided to add Georgia to the list of ‘safe countries’. As of 1 October 2019, Georgia will join the list of countries to which the return of asylum seekers whose applications have been denied is considered reasonable.
The State Secretary’s visit to Georgia was rounded off with talks with the Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, a further meeting is planned with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani.
In response to the rise of asylum applications from Georgian nationals, Switzerland and Georgia had already taken measures in 2018, but these had limited impact. In particular, Switzerland has strengthened protection at external borders and imposed entry bans in cases where the asylum claim was clearly unfounded. For its part, Georgia has made efforts to strengthen borders controls and has conducted several information campaigns on the rights and obligations of visa-travel in the Schengen area. Finally, Georgia has tightened its criminal code to combat irregular migration.
INGO-Led Peace Summit Held in Georgia to Build International Framework for Peace
In this September, the “2019 HWPL World Peace Summit” was held in over 110 locations of 200 countries in cooperation between an international peace NGO named HWPL, government officials, and the global civil society worldwide. In Tbilisi of Georgia citizens from various social stratum gathered to call for a legislation of an international law for peace.
On September 9th, the event was also held in Tbilisi, under the theme of the “Legislate Peace (LP)" - Implementation of the DPCW for Sustainable Development”. About 20 participants including Vakhtang Bolotashvili from the Civil Movement, Elbrus Mammadov, the chairman of Human Rights Monitoring Group of National, Giorgi Jashiashili, the president of European Youth Organization. The participants joined the “Peace Letter Campaign”, as a part of the “LP” project which was held in 200 places of 110 countries and “LP” urges the head of state to support the establishment of international law for peace based on the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
DPCW is a document that specified the roles of international society to prevent and resolve conflicts around the world and currently in the process of being introduced to the UN as a draft resolution. Around 1.5 million citizens from 195 countries have taken part in the LP project by writing support letters and collecting support signatures.
Responses from leaders including the Presidents of USA, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and Prime Ministers of Canada and North Macedonia have shown the support for the DPCW advocated by citizens in each country
There also was a time for case presentation by Tamar Lolishvili, an English teacher from Gymnasium AIA-GESSof Peace Education which is being practiced in accordance with the 10th article of DPCW, ‘Spread a Culture of Peace’ Choosing peace education is about creative problem solving, carefully understanding the problem itself and its various dimensions, and adopting new ways of thinking, perceiving and handling situations.”“Virtual Peace Camp invites children to think about what peace means to them and where they feel peaceful. The activities encourage children to think about what they can do to build peace, helping to develop interpersonal peace. The project also encourages children to think critically about war and to explore its human cost; they will learn about how children – so often the innocent victims of war – can work together for peace.
The host organization, HWPL, is an international NGO associated with UN DGC and in consultative status with UN ECOSOC. ‘9.18 HWPL World Peace Summit’ was annually held since 2014 and is a field of opportunity where figures from politics, religions, media, youth and women gather and discuss on peace.
PACE co-rapporteurs to make monitoring visit to Georgia
Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ADLE), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia, will make a fact-finding visit to the country from 17 to 18 September 2019.
Discussions will mainly focus on recent political developments, the independence of the judiciary, the judicial reform, the functioning of the High Council of Justice, and the organisation of elections.
In Tbilisi, Mr Corlatean and Mr Kern are due to meet, in particular, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs, as well as the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality. Talks are also scheduled with various parliamentary committees, the political groups represented in Parliament, and the Georgian delegation to PACE.
The co-rapporteurs will also meet the Chair of the Central Election Commission, representatives of the judicial authorities, the Public Defender, and representatives of the diplomatic community and NGOs.
Interview with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation S.Lavrov
Response of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov to the question of the editorial board of “Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Turkmenistan” magazine regarding the First Caspian Economic Forum
Question: How do you evaluate the role of the First Caspian Economic Forum in promoting the Caspian Agenda, strengthening the multilateral format of cooperation in the Caspian?
Answer: The solution to the issue of economic development of the Caspian region on regional and mutually beneficial base gains new relevance after the endorsement of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in August 2018. It is obvious that this document satisfies the interests of all the Caspian littoral states not solely due to the fact that its clauses clearly define the mutual rights and obligations on the use of the given basin, including the measures on strengthening trust and security in this region of the world in general. The value of this international agreement is also based on the fact that it creates the necessary legal conditions for the growth of cooperation in trade-investment and transport spheres.
In present conditions, the necessity of creating specialized platform for direct contacts between the governments, profile economic agencies and business entities interested in the work on the Caspian has objectively matured. In this regard, the idea of holding the First Caspian Economic Forum on regular basis initiated by the President of Turkmenistan G.M. Berdimuhamedov is well-timed. This proposal was embodied in the five-sided Intergovernmental Agreement on Trade-Economic Cooperation signed a year ago, simultaneously with the Convention and adopted upon the outcomes of the Communiqué of the meeting of the Presidents during the Fifth Caspian Summit.
It is pleasing that the Forum’s Agenda includes a wide range of issues on the development of trade-economic ties, improvement of investment climate, broadening of practical cooperation in the area of industry, transport, innovations and science.
I am confident that the First Caspian Economic Forum will give additional impulse to the collaboration in such spheres as trade, investments and tourism that will contribute amongst others to the transformation of the Caspian into one of the world’s largest transport and transit hubs.
Russia attaches great importance to this event. The level of the Russian delegation to be headed by the Head of the Government of the Russian Federation D.A.Medvedev serves as a vivid proof of this.
EU helps young people in Georgia return to their home villages
On 5 July, 20 members of Georgia’s Khulo Local Action Group (LAG) visited another LAG in Kazbegi. The aim of the visit was to share experience between the two groups.
The programme included visits to local business initiatives, such as a trout farm, ice-cream parlour, dental clinic and gym. All these initiatives received funding through the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).
During the trip, Khulo and Kazbegi LAG members held working meetings to share experience and future operational plans. Attention was paid to the determination and implementation of strategic actions and priorities of the strategy.
The parties also discussed grant component procedures announced recently within the ENPARD projects, the functioning of the LAGs, and fundraising alternatives.
The visit was organised in the framework of the EU-funded project “Promotion of Rural Development and Diversification in Khulo Municipality”, implemented under ENPARD.
The EU supports rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of €179.5 million, the main goal of ENPARD is to reduce rural poverty.