The Parliament of Georgia ratified the Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and China
The hereby Agreement will allow Georgian entrepreneurs introducing own goods and services to the largest world market without bureaucratic impediments.
Besides, the agreement will facilitate to increase of trade turnover between the signatory countries. The document provides active cooperation in various directions and defines free trade conditions.
The Agreement facilitates to economic development of the country and better employment. Besides, the document will encourage entry of potential foreign investors to Georgia.
The negotiations on the agreement started on November 10, 2015 in China within the World Economic Forum after the meeting of the Prime Ministers of Georgia and China. Georgia is the first country in the region with free trade agreement with China.
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.
The Parliament declared the vote of confidence to the recomposed Government
The Parliament declared the vote of confidence to the recomposed Government and the Governmental Program for 2019-2020 with 98 votes. MPs at the plenary session, presided by the Speaker Archil Talakvadze, held the final stage of declaration of vote of confidence to the PM candidate and the Government.
The floor was given to the PM candidate Giorgi Gakharia. “Today, I will try to stress the principal and key values and the main dimensions of the Government. We intend to be mostly oriented on the agenda, outcomes and efficiency as these are set as one main principles and the voice of the people will serve as the main coordination force. Achievement of the outlined tasks requires hard work and cooperation between the Government and the Parliament, including the opposition”.
He introduced the main priorities of the Governmental program stating that efficiency in reasonable terms and good faith are set as the main principles of the Governmental activity.
He stressed countering corruption as one of the gross challenges and emphasized importance of the truth as the citizens shall not be affected by lie and modeled reality. In this context she touched upon the occupation noting that the people supposed to feel at least the silent responsibility for the occupation accuse the Government in assessment of the occupation which is totally inadmissible and the Government shall resist it with the truth. “Justice we have delivered to every citizen in capacity of the truth constitutes the main component allowing us being more exacting towards our opponents and the team members”.
He named domestic and external safety, economic development and human capital development as the priorities the Government will be concentrated on in 2019-2020. Occupation remains the main security challenge, he noted: “When we stay that 20% of the territory is occupied, we shall also underline that 20% of the economy, development and human capital of the country are occupied and it constitutes the greatest security challenge for us”.
The Government intends to resort to every instrument other than the war. He spoke about the foreign policy priorities underlining that EU and NATO integration remain the main course of the country with tangible progress. High social radicalization level was named as one of the challenges for domestic security and Parliamentary democracy, as he noted, is incompatible with such degree of radicalization.
“I cannot accept when the political party considers the freedom of expression and the people directly calling for invasion into the state institution as the storm to the Parliament and refuse to assume even the political responsibility. The political outcomes and change of the political conjuncture shall take place in Georgia no longer as we have the Parliament and the elections in this view”.
He introduced the Governmental views about unemployment problem solution in the reasonable terms and emphasized importance of the free and effective business as the state shall create the equal and acceptable conditions for business development to allow business create more job opportunities and assume the social responsibility towards the employees.
The reporter spoke about infrastructure, foreign trade, effective state resource use, energy safety, agriculture, education, healthcare and pension reforms. “The role and the function of the state is to create the equal conditions for every citizen to equally participate in the progress of the country. The role of the Government is to create every condition for every social strata to jointly carry the responsibility for our future, towards our children and to make the country better than yesterday”.
MPs took the floor for the questions mostly concerning the medicine price regulation, education reform prospects, criminal policy directions, restoration of territorial integrity and de-occupation view in long run, youth and social policy directions, state social aid program and the gaps therein, structural reorganization of the Ministries, projects for the persons with disabilities, Government-business relations, sustainability of the national currency, highland development program etc. G. Gakharia and the candidates for the Ministers delivered the detailed answers. Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure, the plenary was resumed with the statements by the Committees, Factions and MPs.
The Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Sofo Kiladze: “Mr. Gakharia and his Cabinet will be consistent and effective in implementation of the program launched by Mr. Ivanishvili. The PM candidate introduced the system approach and he has already implemented many system reforms on a very responsible positions. That is why I support Mr. Gakharia and his Cabinet”.
The Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Mariam Jashi: “One of the milestones in the new program envisages human capital development and education reform. On behalf of our Committee, I would like to express our support to the Governmental program. It is paramount that we hold the guarantees for education, wide-scale reform and increased financing”.
The Chair of the Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee, Roman Kakulia: “Unfortunately, there are the politicians trying to apply the forbidden methods to change the Government. I want you to once and forever eliminate these people from the politics and stand by us, or terminate this topic for the society for the upcoming elections. Besides, I would like to hope that you will stop people speaking about pro-Russian orientation of Georgian Dream”.
The Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Sesiashvili: “I would like to wish good luck to the new candidates, Mr. Garibashvili and Mr. Gomelauri, as well as each member of the Cabinet and express my respect and especially to Levan Izoria. We have cooperated for a long time on defense affairs and I am proud to state that the reforms by him were very effective and soon we will see him in the Security Council. The mandatory conscription is very relevant and problematic and as I know, it is already under consideration”.
The Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili: “Our Committee approved the recomposed Government and declared the vote of confidence. Our support was conditioned with two main factors – the Governmental program based on 4 key principles: construction of the democratic state; economic development; efficiency in restoration of territorial integration and de-occupation; and full integration to EU and NATO; and the second factor lies in the fact that the candidates nominated are capable to successfully fulfill the tasks outlined. Their views and motivation are very convincing”.
The Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Irakli Kovzanadze: “The Government demonstrated the realistic view and orientation to the tasks. Their economic policy is based on macro-economic stability and sustainability of the financial institutions which are of utmost necessity for economic growth, employment and solution of social programs. The PM and Minister candidates hold the best experience in respective spheres, we know each of them and believe that they will show high professionalism in scheduled reforms”.
The Chair of the Sports and Youth Issues Committee, Mikheil Kavelashvili: “The messages you have echoed are very important and the main message implied human capital development, and since the very first day in authority, the people always were the main direction. The messages echoed by Mr. Gakharia make me believe that the new plans and effective implementation are to be expected”.
The Chair of the Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee, Beka Odisharia: “Being the Chair of the Committee, let me be sincere in my gratitude to the profile Ministries and their representatives for cooperation resulting for the benefits especially for our compatriots abroad. I also would like to tell the society that we for the first time had the 7-year period in history of independence when no weapons have been clanking which served as an incentive to the weak Georgian economy and tourism. This peaceful process was ensured by the certain people and thus, let me be hopeful that security of the country will be further guaranteed. I do hope that our Government will be the Government for everyone regardless gender, age and confession with the only issue in the agenda – progressive and developed Georgia”.
The Chair of the Health Care and Social Issues Committee, Akaki Zoidze: “In 2016, we have made some significant promises to positively affect every citizen and we are able to fulfill our promise within this one year in healthcare and social directions. The greatest achievement was when we launched the universal healthcare, which saved thousands of the families from physical destruction and poverty. Good initiatives have been introduced and we will see to fulfillment of these initiatives through the Parliamentary oversight”.
Karlo Kopaliani: “The deceiver and the culpable force wished to arrange the coup on June 20 and appropriate the authority by a violent manner. And we should speak about responsibility of the Minister Gakharia if he demonstrated weakness, admitted chaos and failed to protect the state institutions”.
Alexander Kantaria: “This day shall acquire the importance of the starting point in development of our country as it is dictated by the reality. I wish you keep the way of truth and achieve the outcomes”.
Eka Beselia: “Domestic security does lie through the justice system. Besides, external security and freedom of the people also lie through this system similar to the economic and business strength of the country. If this reform fails and we know that it is the last try, and when the list is submitted to the Parliament, then all the reforms lose sense. So, it is the foundation defining all values, reforms and attempts”.
Levan Koberidze: “You spoke about the system and wanted to put the culpable judges under the light of bureaucracy. This was the system entailing revolt of the people and serving as the reason for demolition which should the destructed”.
Legan Gogichaishvili: “You have deviated from democracy and today, allow one hand managing the judge, Parliament and the executive authority. It means breach of the Constitutional principles”.
Beka Natsvlishvili: “Have a good look and maybe you find the basis of poverty and unemployment in your economic policy. Something has to be changed and I offer certain steps”.
The Chair of “Georgian Dream”, Mamuka Mdinaradze: “None of the positions and authorities can be eternal and I will not be artificial if I say that we shall direct our activity to the challenges, including to the possibility to be substituted by the better politicians without the burden of the sins of the past. Mr. Gakharia, I join your position the lie is the problem not the challenge, and if disinformation is not eliminated, we cannot achieve the progress. Hence, unfortunately there is the force in the country with its branches and media means ensuring constant stress and disinformation and psychological violence over the society. Along with occupation and poverty, which are adequately estimated in the Governmental program, we need solutions, which are also provided in the program and that is why we support the Government”.
“National Movement” MP, Nikanor Melia: “History of Georgia continues and you have on your own defined the identity of your personalities and your place in history of Georgia is not the bright and right, is not in morality. Naturally, you have your place in history but totally different and I would be happy not to encounter the necessity of these words. Only future can reveal the real value of the deeds and words”.
“Georgian Dream – for Powerful Georgia” MP, Koba Kobaladze: “I hail that the document provides the detailed view of defense capacity of the country. We all shall defend our homeland and thus, increased defense capacity is the primary task of the country. I hail that the Governmental program provides the conflict solution view, reconciliation and engagement policy mechanisms oriented to the reasonable and consistent policy-making and aiming at support of the conflict-affected population on the both sides of the line, their socio-economic enhancement and restoration of trust between the citizens artificially divided by the wires. Engagement of our international partners in this process is of utmost importance. Besides the defense and security component, I also welcome other priority directions outlined in the program”.
Deputy Chair of “Alliance of Patriots and Social-Democrats”, Ada Marshania: “We have suffered two greatest catastrophes in the recent history. We temporarily lost Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, and the second catastrophe is our attitude towards it. There is not a single plan in the country for restoration of integrity, addressing unemployment and poverty. I believe that this program will be endorsed today but we will not participate in this process due to your culpable policy of cohabitation”.
The Chair of “Georgian Dream – Greens”, Giorgi Gachechiladze: “We heard the National Movement MP speaking, which was the peak of the ideology and the PR-machine NM uses for years – the machine for lies trying to assure the society that they are of the Western orientation and as if we keep our path to the North while Georgia has never been so close to NATO, EU and other international organizations and the USA, while they have conceded everything to Russia – whole economy, territories and facilitated Russia to dominate not only in Georgia but in the region. Mr. Gakharia, let me tell you that the June 20-21 developments are one of the integral parts of the machine of lies. It was an attempt to storm the Parliament in the Parliamentary Republic and I am grateful to you as you prevented destabilization in the country”.
The Chair of “Georgian Dream-Industrials”, Simon Nozadze: “Mr. Gakharia, you have explained the total mechanism of lies used by the National Movement. It is evident that they are afraid of the response and do not want to hear the truth. Their behavior means loyalty to the old rule. The population has witnessed how the National Movement will act if they return. So, it is up to the society to make a conclusion”.
Majority Leader Giorgi Volski: “When the National Movement ruled in the country, every line between the human rights and the Governmental policy has been erased as they were totally ignored – they manipulated only with the figures. The meetings in the villages seem to be a good idea of the Party leader, which was immediately supported by the Government and the Parliament. The meetings have been held allowing us formulating our approaches also to the budget which is to be soon endorsed. The future plans introduced by the PM candidate are the plans that our people and the country need. So, we shall support them not because we are one team and keep our eyes closed to the gaps existent but we shall support them because they are oriented to elimination of the gaps and enhancement of the positive attitude and the strategic plans”.
Majority MP Dimitri Tskitishvili: “Unfortunately, we appeared in the reality when the greatest part of the political opposition has derived from the reality, when we see that the greater part of the political opposition has failed to realize their role as the part of the authority. It is hard to speak about the healthy political process and so, it entails our political responsibility to be adequately critical and let the Government seek for the rational seeds. In this case, we can offer the different role to the Government. As I presume, the vacuum in the society in terms that the one part of the society having the critical opinion can fail to be delivered to the Government and thus, we are to fill this vacuum”.
In the end of the session, the Prime Minister thanked the Parliament for vote of confidence.
The session resumed with the State Anthem.
Interview: Restoring social stability crucial to Hong Kong's future, Georgia's former envoy to China says
TBILISI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Protests in any form should be peaceful, by no means through radical actions and disruption of normal life, David Aptsiauri, former Georgian ambassador to China, has said.
"We think that any protest should be expressed in peaceful ways through dialogue, readiness for consensus solutions and not by means of radical actions and disruption of normal life of the community," Aptsiauri, also general director of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Xinhua recently.
Aptsiauri stressed that social stability is vitally important for further economic development and improvement of living standards in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's closer cooperation with the Chinese mainland "means increasing new job opportunities and growth of trade and tourism," Aptsiauri said, calling on the people in Hong Kong to cherish and maintain peace and stability.
Aptsiauri recalled he had visited Hong Kong several times as the former ambassador to China and was impressed by the progress the city made after its reunification with the Chinese mainland.
"I would like to reiterate that Georgia firmly supports the 'one country, two systems' principle," he said.
Hong Kong has since June suffered from prolonged and escalating violence that originated from demonstrations over proposed ordinance amendments concerning fugitive offenders.
The Hong Kong police said the level of aggression by demonstrators has been the highest in decades.