Mamuka Bakhtadze: Democracy is about engagement and it is based on values
As Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze emphasized at the Tbilisi International Conference organized by the McCain Institute and the Economic Policy Research Center, democracy is, above all else, about engagement, the engagement of the government, civil society, and media. Everyone has a role in supporting our young democracy.
Chief Columnist for Financial Time Edward Luce inquired whether the ongoing processes in Europe affect Georgia's choice because European democracy, according to him, is not the same as it used to be. In this context, the panel discussion's moderator cited the events in Poland and Slovakia, and named Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the US president's policy.
According to Mamuka Bakhtadze, political processes do change, but values remain the same.
"Yes. It is a political process and there are some changes but values are still on the table, and these are the values that created this civilization. We are absolutely committed and optimistic about a very bright future of the European family," the Prime Minister underlined.
Prime Minister's Press Office
Prime Minister Proposes Advancing Relations with Romania to Strategic Level
Georgia proposes to advance relations with Romania to a strategic level, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated during today's meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă.
According to the head of Georgian Government, Romania is Georgia's special partner and friend, and advancing bilateral relations to a strategic level will contribute to solving issue in the areas of common interest.
The meeting emphasized the high level of political dialogue between the two countries, and the potential for further developing economic cooperation. The Prime Ministers underlined Georgia's progress on the path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration and the importance of Black Sea security for ensuring common Euro-Atlantic security.
The subsequent enhanced-format meeting, which brought together the two countries' Cabinet members, discussed the importance of the Caspian Sea-Black Sea International Transport Corridor. In this context, the Bucharest Statement signed in March by the Foreign Ministers of Georgia, Romania, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan was commended as a positive step forward. The special importance of the cooperation between Georgia's ports and Romania's Port of Constanta was also pointed out in that it offers ways to diversify international transport corridors connecting Europe and Asia via the territories of Georgia and Romania. The Prime Minister of Georgia thanked her Georgian counterpart for said initiative.
Equally positive assessment was given to the active effort of Romania's Presidency of the Council of the EU toward keeping the Eastern Partnership high on the European Union's agenda.
"Romania is a staunch supporter of Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration. I am convinced that Georgia, through its own efforts, will become a full member of the EU, and we, as the country presently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, will support you on this path, and on your path to Euro-Atlantic integration. Georgia's contribution to Euro-Atlantic security is invaluable, for which we are grateful to you," the Prime Minister of Romania stated during the meeting.
The conversation also touched on regional challenges and the state of affairs in Georgia's occupied territories. The Prime Minister of Georgia thanked the Romanian Government for firmly supporting Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
After the meeting, the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between Georgia and Romania was signed by Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Romanian Minister of Culture and National Identity Valer-Daniel Breaz.
Nikol Pashinyan: ‘Armenia is today unequivocally a democratic country’
“Armenia is today unequivocally a democratic country with absolute freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and our government is continuing to enhance respect for human rights,” said Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, addressing the Assembly today.
“We have managed to root out systemic corruption and to create real prerequisites for everyone’s equality before the law,” the Prime Minister added, evoking “vast political changes” in the country since “the non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution” about a year ago.
However, Mr Pashinyan underlined, “our democracy needs to be reinforced with economic and institutional safeguards. The development of democratic institutions, the existence of an independent judiciary, and the creation and strengthening of anti-corruption institutions are all key areas in which we need the support of the Council of Europe.”
“This is important not only for consolidating the outcomes of our political revolution, but also succeeding in our recently-launched economic revolution, aimed at encouraging the economic activity of our citizens, creating real opportunities for them, making Armenia even more attractive for investments and tourism,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Pashinyan also said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remained a serious challenge for the whole region and that Armenia’s government was committed to the principle of only peaceful settlement of the issue. “I am convinced that mere dialogue between the leaders is not enough for settling the issue. It is very important to launch a dialogue between societies, as well, so that we prepare our respective societies for peace and not for war,” he concluded.
PACE called on Russia to pay membership fees
PACE has called on Russia to “appoint a delegation to the Assembly and to resume obligatory payment of its contribution to the Organisation’s budget” since failure to do could lead to its suspension in both statutory bodies, if applied by the Committee of Ministers.
PACE adopted the regarding resolution on April 10.
As concerns the Russian Federation, PACE called for intensified dialogue to “avoid a situation in which the biggest member State would be asked to, or chooses to leave the Organisation”, with all the geopolitical implications this would have and consequences for Russian citizens.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deprived Russia of voting right in 2014 for illegal annexation of Crimea. Moscow has no right to work at the Assembly’s managing body and to send observers on behalf of the Assembly. In June 2017, the Russian Government’s decision, in reaction to this situation, to suspend payment of its contribution to the budget of the Organisation. Russia’s annual contribution is € 33 million, which is 10% of the total budget of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.
The Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, addressing the Assembly in Strasbourg said that, as a sign of gratitude, the Georgian government decided to make voluntary contributions to the Treasury of the Council of Europe.
Star of Zurab Zhvania opened in Strasbourg
The star of Zurab Zhvania, former Prime Minister of Georgia has been opened outside the building of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, being with a working visit in Strasbourg, unveiled the star.
The star of Zhvania has the politician’s one of the most popular phrases on it that the late PM said during the PACE sitting 20 years ago.
“I’m Georgian, and therefore I am European.” These are the words of late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania while speaking in front of the Council of Europe in 1999. During the speech, he expressed Georgia’s EU aspirations and outlined the country’s foreign policy agenda for the next decade.
Family members of the late Prime Minister attended the star’s opening.
Prime Minister Bakhtadze hails Georgia’s progress as a "country on the rise"
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, addressing the Assembly today in Strasbourg, hailed the progress Georgia has made in the 20 years since it joined the Council of Europe, citing constitutional reform, a more independent judiciary, and greater oversight of human rights.
He thanked the Assembly – as well as the other institutions of the Council of Europe – for their part in helping to reform Georgian institutions and society. Pointing out that there was more work to be done, he pledged a big increase in the resources devoted to education.
“The success of my country, accomplished in the last 20 years, belongs to both Georgia and the Council of Europe, and therefore we can both be proud of it,” he told parliamentarians. “Georgia has managed to make a dramatic transformation, and today we are a country on the rise.”
Mr Bakhtadze said his country still faced a major challenge in the occupation of parts of Georgian territory. While deploring the serious humanitarian and human rights situation in these regions, he pledged that Georgia would only seek to resolve the conflict peacefully.
The Prime Minister ended his speech by recalling the words of Georgia’s then-Speaker, Zurab Zhvania, when the country joined the Council of Europe 20 years earlier: “I am Georgian, and therefore I am European”.