EU Ambassador to Georgia: Revitalising rural economies vital for stimulating country’s economy
The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Georgia, Janos Herman, recently paid a series of visits to agricultural and rural development initiatives in the country supported through the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD). The ENPARD site visits in Kvareli and Lagodekhi were part of the Ambassador’s two-day official programme in Kakheti to explore EU support to economic opportunities in the region.
The EU Ambassador visited the vineyard and orchards of the ENPARD agricultural cooperative “Saba” in Gavazi village, Kvareli municipality. He also stopped at several rural development initiatives and met with the members of the Local Action Group (LAG) in Lagodekhi municipality.
“Agriculture and rural development has an important role to play in the sustainable development of Georgia,” – said Ambassador Herman. “Nearly half of the country’s population lives in rural areas and is employed in agriculture. Revitalising rural economies and boosting Georgia’s potential in agriculture is therefore vital for increasing welfare and stimulating the country’s economy,” he added.
In addition, the EU ambassador took part in the climate diplomacy week clean-up action with local youth and planted a tree in the EU-supported Lagodekhi Dendrology Park. In a press release, the ENPARD said the visits to EU-funded agricultural and rural development projects in Kakheti offered the Ambassador first-hand information about the successes and challenges of Georgia’s rural community, as well as the results of the EU’s support in this sector.
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EU launches new project to target organised crime in the Eastern Neighbourhood
A new Europol-led project, funded by the European Union, has been launched, focused on strengthening the capacity of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to fight organised crime more effectively. The project will contribute to reducing crime and creating a safer living space for citizens in the region.
Through this four-year initiative, Europol will support cooperation between law enforcement authorities, both on a strategic and operational level. Special funding will enable the Eastern Partner countries to participate in operational activities against some of the ten most significant threats to EU security listed under the EU Policy Cycle. Existing networks for information sharing and operational cooperation may be further extended into joint investigations to improve the effectiveness in fighting transnational organised crime.
“This initiative is an important step in developing strong operational cooperation and trust between the law enforcement authorities of the EU Member States and our Eastern partners,” said Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol. “Our aligned efforts will bring a stronger response to the common challenges and cross-border threats we face.”
Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East at the European Commission, stated: “Organised crime networks operate across national borders and destabilise the entire region. Tackling serious and organised crime is a shared challenge by the European Union and its partner countries. By strengthening the strategic and operational cooperation between Europol and partner countries, we are proud to contribute to joint investigation successes.”
Located along the Black Sea and forming part of the ‘heroin route’ from the Middle East to Europe, all six Eastern Partner countries are threatened by organised criminal groups active in the area. These groups are involved in migrant smuggling, organised property crime, trafficking in human beings, firearms and drug trafficking, money laundering, and other related crimes such as document fraud. These criminal syndicates threaten not only the safety and security of people, but also the stability of the Eastern Partnership region and of the whole EU. More cooperation between law enforcement authorities of EU Member States and the Eastern Neighbourhood countries is crucial to improving the effectiveness of the common response to organised crime across borders.
As part of a larger €10 million EU cooperation initiative, the EU has dedicated €2.5 million to support the project that will run for the next four years. Two other components are focused on law enforcement training and threat assessment (a project led by Cepol with the participation of Europol) and on criminal asset recovery (managed by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - UNICRI).
UN and EU launch ambitious initiative for gender equality in Eastern Partnership
With support from the European Union, the two UN sister agencies will work with government bodies and civil society partners in six countries to challenge deeply ingrained gender stereotypes, increase men’s involvement in domestic work and childcare, and engage with potential perpetrators to prevent gender-based violence.
UN Women and UNFPA, together with the European Union (EU), have launched a three-year regional programme to tackle gender stereotypes and gender-based violence in six countries of the Eastern Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
The programme, entitled “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence,” ultimately seeks to strengthen equal rights and opportunities for women and men by challenging perceptions about men’s and women’s roles in the family and in society and working to eliminate gender-based violence.
“This is our first regional programme covering gender equality in the Eastern Partnership region and we are intensely proud of it,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East in the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission. “We can and we will do more to develop this underused economic and social potential with our Eastern neighbours. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will propose that the future Eastern Partnership be more inclusive.”
A first of its kind, the programme has been informed by an in-depth situation analysis and intergovernmental consultations with the six countries. It is designed to engage a wide range of government bodies, civil society organizations, and individuals.
“We will work closely with governments and civil society organisations in the six countries to ensure the success of the programme,” says Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “This work is even more crucial now as the COVID-19 crisis has put into stark relief the imbalanced distribution of responsibilities based on traditional gender stereotypes.”
The programme aims at achieving real behavioural change. It relies on strategies designed to challenge structural gender barriers and norms, with particular emphasis on transforming gender-stereotyped behaviour, strengthening men’s involvement in parenting and domestic responsibilities, increasing men’s access to parental leave, and reducing the number of people affected by gender-based violence through prevention interventions with potential perpetrators.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, we have unfortunately seen an increase in women’s unpaid care workload and in cases of gender-based violence across the six countries,” says Alanna Armitage, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Our programme comes at the right time to fight these trends. We all have to work hand-in-hand to build a more just, equal, safe and secure world for all.”
The programme has a budget of €7,875,000 and is anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, launched by the United Nations in 2015, and the EU Action Plan 2016-2020 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women Through EU External Relations. It provides a unique opportunity for the EU and the six participating countries to affect social discourse, perceptions, and practices related to gender equality with the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality and related SDGs.
For more information, please visit: https://europa.eu/european-union/
EU supports Georgia in protecting its coastal waters
On 29 June, a five-day water monitoring survey started in Batumi, Georgia, organised by the EU-funded project ‘European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership’ (EUWI+).
The survey is carried out by Georgian experts from the National Environmental Agency. It aims to assess the quality of coastal and transitional water ecosystems to help identify appropriate measures to protect water resources.
Apart from the survey, the EU also supports the upgrade of Batumi’s laboratory by organising training courses for experts and providing new state-of-the-art analysis equipment. This aims to improve Georgia’s capacities to manage its water resources.
Two similar surveys were held in September and November 2019. The surveys allowed the National Environmental Agency to determine the ecological status of coastal waters in the Chorokhi-Adjaristskali River Basin District.
The EUWI+ project helps Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to bring their legislation closer to EU water management policies, with a main focus on managing transboundary river basins.
Head of EU Delegation to Georgia visits energy efficiency projects in Kakheti
During his mission to the region of Kakheti, Georgia, EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell visited two EU-supported energy efficiency projects in Telavi and Shilda. The projects have won international awards for their achievements and have participated in the EU Sustainable Energy Award for the Eastern Partnership.
The environmentally friendly winery in Georgia ShildaWine won the 2019 EU Sustainable Energy Award for the Eastern Partnership. With support from the EU and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, ShildaWine now uses energy-efficient technologies. The company has reduced its electricity consumption by up to 60% and now saves more than €60,000 per year.
The second EU-funded project ‘Biomass energy and energy-efficient technologies' won third place in the 2020 EU Sustainable Energy Award for the Eastern Partnership. The project helped two kindergartens in Telavi switch to energy-efficient biomass heating.
In an interview with BM Media, Carl Hartzell commented:
“The European Union plans to implement many projects in Kakheti in 2020-2021. We are trying to help the region realize the potential it has in different directions. We will try to use the wine industry and the waste generated from it as much as possible to produce energy. Energy efficiency will allow us to use natural resources to give the region more opportunities for heating. I am glad that the Parliament has adopted a law on energy efficiency, which helps us to take our cooperation to a new level. Ultimately, all of this will benefit the environment, the country and the people.”
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EU supports information campaign in Georgia for EU Sustainable Energy Week 2020
On 22 June, the EU Delegation to Georgia launched the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) campaign. The campaign consists of tips for citizens on saving energy and money, caring about the environment and making their homes more energy efficient.
This year, the EUSEW will run from 22 to 26 June. The event will be held virtually, and the topic will be Beyond the crisis: Clean energy for green recovery and growth.
The EUSEW is the biggest event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. It is organised by the European Commission and brings together public authorities, private companies, non-government organisations and consumers to promote initiatives to save energy and move towards renewables for clean, secure and efficient power.
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