The State of Israel has included Georgia in the list of safe countries
Team Europe: EU, France and the Czech Republic launch Project on Social Protection in Georgia
The European Union, France and the Czech Republic join forces to strengthen social protection system in Georgia. Signature event allowed the signing parties to start the project and show their common engagement in improving access to social protection and the extension of social rights and coverage of the Georgian population.
Tbilisi, 10 November 2021 – Today, a signature event took place at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Georgia to mark the beginning of the EU-project, implemented by Expertise France (Agence Française de Développement Group − AFD Group) and the Czech Development Agency (CzDA), with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MoIDPHLSP).
Their Excellencies, Mr. Petr Mikyska, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia and Mr. Diego Colas, Ambassador of France to Georgia, and Mr. Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation attended the signature event. Ms. Tamila Barkalaia, Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the occupied territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia presented her ministry’s perspective, followed by with a short presentation of the project.
“Social protection goes back to the core values of the European Union. In a democracy, it is all of our responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable members of society to make sure that everyone can be part of social life and the democratic process. This is especially relevant in times of COVID-19, where many people need additional support and protection. We are, therefore, proud to launch this new project together with our Team Europe partners and look forward to many positive steps over the coming years”, stated Mr. Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
Mr. Colas, Ambassador of France to Georgia, stated that “there is a global alliance between the French and Czech Development Agencies and I am very happy that this finds an application here in Georgia. We strongly support the choice of the Georgian people and of successive governments to build a strong, dynamic, European democracy in Georgia and it makes sense to do this with another dynamic successful Eastern European democracy such as the Czech Republic. The implementation of this joint project, to strengthen the delivery of social services and work towards the social code, will be a key aspect of this broader democracy and institution building agenda”,.
“Development of the Social Code is a key reform that will direct Georgia towards establishment of effective social welfare management system, including decentralization of provision of social protection. Czech Development Agency is happy to join the forces with Expertise France and move a long-term successful partnership with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia to a new level.”, said Mr. Mikyska, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia.
“By elaborating the Social Code, we aim at creating broader perspective of social welfare. Our goal is to guarantee that Georgian citizens are protected from social risks from childhood to old age. Therefore, relevant healthcare and social protection systems and mechanisms need to be developed. This will be a big step forward towards European and international Standards“, stated Ms. Barkalaia, Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the occupied territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs.
About the project
The project Strengthening Social Protection in Georgia aims at supporting the Government of Georgia and state organizations in improving social services, evidence-based policy making and extending social protection rights. The project will last 24 months with implementing partners Expertise France and Czech Development Agency.
The project will focus on three components. The first component will improve access and delivery of social services and remittances from Social Service Agency (SSA) and at local level. The second component of the project will support better analysis of information and the creation of communication materials around social rights and promotion of social work. The third component will support the Ministry in the elaboration of the social code in extending social rights in Georgia through a collaborative and inclusive process, following evidence-based policy and legislation proposals.
The project is now officially launched and is in its inception phase. The first action of the project will be to identify key policies and strategies for improving delivery and access to social protection services in Georgia.
THE TALKS BETWEEN THE HEADS OF THE FOREIGN POLICY AGENCIES OF TURKMENISTAN AND AUSTRIA TOOK PLACE IN ASHGABAT
Today, on November 9, a meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov with the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria Michael Linhart who arrived to the Turkmen capital on a working visit took place in the premises of the MFA.
R.Meredov in his welcoming speech said that Turkmenistan is interested in further activation of bilateral and multilateral collaboration with Austria on every field of mutual interest.
In the course of the constructive talk the heads of the foreign policy agencies of the two countries considered the key vectors of bilateral cooperation, as well as exchanged views on actual issues of international agenda. It was noted the significance of mutual support of each other’s initiatives within the framework of authoritative international organizations.
In this context it was highlighted the readiness of Turkmenistan and Austria to build-up fruitful cooperation in the spheres of political-diplomatic, trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian interaction. The need of further intensification of the contacts in the fields of energy, transport, trade, economics, health protection, education, science and culture with the active participation of state and business structures of the two countries was expressed.
The holding of the regular 11th meeting of Joint Turkmen-Austrian Commission in the first half of 2022 was proposed.
Concerning the theme of regional dialogue on strengthening security and provision of stable growth, the Ministers focused on the need of further consolidation of efforts of international community on peaceful and humanitarian settlement of the Afghan question. The timeliness of the online-meeting on the situation in Afghanistan which took place on the initiative of the Austrian side at the end of August of the current year was highlighted.
Within the framework of the meeting the presentation of investment opportunities in participation of the heads of the MFA of the two countries, the heads of the relevant departments of Turkmenistan and representatives of the business circles of Austria was held.
Following the negotiations R.Meredov and M.Linhart signed Cooperation Program between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan and the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria for the years of 2022 and 2023.
Georgian Prime Minister’s meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda
Today, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.
The meeting at the Administration of the Georgian Government focused on the relations between the two countries based on shared values and principles, emphasizing the tremendous dynamism of bilateral interaction. Lithuania is one of Georgia's most active supporters, the parties pointed out.
The conversation revolved around successful and productive cooperation with Lithuania's delegations under various international organizations. The Head of Government thanked the Lithuanian President for ongoing support and the initiation of resolutions concerning Georgia.
The meeting also focused on the importance of deepening the economic cooperation between Georgia and Lithuania, especially in the post-pandemic period, to boost economic growth and people-to-people contacts. In discussing the challenges posed by COVID-19, the parties underlined the importance of access to vaccines. The Prime Minister thanked the President of Lithuania for the decision to donate 15,000 vaccine doses to Georgia.
Lithuania's unequivocal support for Georgia's path toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration was emphasized, and key directions of further joint activities and coordination were outlined. Georgia is preparing to apply for full EU membership in 2024, the Head of Government said and stressed the importance of political and economic reforms to that end. The parties discussed the upcoming NATO Summit, with the issue of Georgia included on its agenda, and expressed hope that the summit's declaration will reflect Georgia's significant progress on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
The meeting also paid special attention to the situation in Georgia's occupied territories and problems plaguing the populations along the occupation lines. The President of Lithuania familiarized himself with said concerns during his visit to the village of Khurvaleti. Gitanas Nausėda reassured Irakli Garibashvili of his firm support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The meeting was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia Andrius Kalindra, Chief Adviser to the Cabinet of the President Ieva Ulčickaitė, President's Foreign Adviser Skirmantė Straigienė, and President's Chief Adviser for Communications Raminta Stanaitytė-Česnulienė, while the Georgian side was represented by Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Georgia's by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Lithuania Levan Ghvachliani.
Press Service of the Government Administration
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.