PACE to observe the 2nd round of the presidential election in Georgia
Strasbourg, 26.11.2018 – Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL) and Reina de Bruijn-Wezeman (Netherlands, ALDE), members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will travel to Georgia from 27 to 29 November to observe the conduct of the second round of the presidential election, alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, European Parliament and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
They are due to meet the two candidates, the Central Election Commission, and representatives of the media, before observing the ballot on Wednesday 28 November.
A joint press conference is scheduled on Thursday 29 November at 2.30 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, Grand Royal Ballroom, 29 Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi.
PACE Georgia monitors welcome adoption of Constitutional amendments by the Georgian Parliament
Strasbourg, 29.06.2020 - The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), have welcomed the adoption today by the Georgian Parliament of the Constitutional amendments to implement the new election system for the 2020 elections that was agreed between the ruling majority and opposition in March this year, with the support of international mediators.
“The Assembly has consistently called for the introduction of a proportional election system in Georgia. That will now be the case as from the 2024 elections. In addition, as a result of the adoption of these Constitutional amendments, the system for the next elections in 2020 will now also be far more proportional than was previously the case, which potentially could allow for a more pluralist and representative parliament. We strongly welcome this,” said the co-rapporteurs.
At the same time, the co-rapporteurs regretted that the political agreement had not resulted in a less tense and polarised political environment. “We call on all sides to seek co-operation over confrontation and to constructively pursue the implementation of the remainder of the 8 March political agreement. In addition, we call on all stakeholders to refrain from any statements and actions that could increase tensions and polarisation or otherwise negatively affect the environment needed for the conduct of genuinely democratic elections.”
“As we have said, the political agreement, and the election system resulting from it, offer a window of opportunity to Georgia. We implore all stakeholders to fully take that opportunity in the best interest of Georgia,” emphasised the co-rapporteurs.
The co-rapporteurs intend to visit the country in November with a view to finalising their report on Georgia, which they will present to the Assembly during its January 2021 part-session.
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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Stop jailing journalists: Turkey and Azerbaijan must uphold Council of Europe standards
Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur on media freedom and the safety of journalists for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has today expressed concern over the detention of journalists, an appalling phenomenon which has been observed for many years especially in Turkey and in Azerbaijan.
The PACE recent report on “Threats to media freedom and journalists’ security in Europe” observes that Turkey is the country which has the highest number of imprisoned journalists, at present 95 according to the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. “Journalists are placed in arbitrary pre-trial arrest and detention, and are held for months, sometimes for years, before their cases come to court. Such detentions are the result of politicised targeting of journalists for their critical reporting; they are an obvious violation of freedom of expression and of journalists’ right to liberty and security”, said Mr Schennach.
Moreover, in the context of the current pandemic crisis, detention in penitentiaries constitutes an unjustified risk to health, and even to life. A recent bill proposes that approximately one third of 300,000 Turkish detainees be released, but it excludes those detained for terrorism-related offences, and therefore the majority of the 95 journalists in detention, as they are charged with or convicted of terrorism-related offences, although with no solid justification.
As for Azerbaijan – where there are currently 10 journalists in detention – several journalists are arrested on the ground of fabricated accusations. Elchin Mammad, editor in chief of the Yukselish Namine newspaper, was arrested on 30 March 2020 “for having stolen jewellery”. Since 2015, he has repeatedly been under judicial or police investigations, interrogations, house and office searches. Today, if convicted he faces up to seven years in prison.
Another Azerbaijani journalist and blogger with Kanal24 Internet TV, Ibrahim Vazirov, was arrested on 13 April 2020, days after police had demanded he delete online reports about the social and economic impact of Covid-19. In previous weeks, the journalist had been producing video reports critical of the government’s quarantine measures. A similar case happened to Mirsahib Rahiloglu, a journalist with the Reportyor.info, who had published interviews with citizens expressing frustration at the lack of financial support during the lockdown. He was arrested for “violating lockdown rules” and detained for 30 days. Natig Izbatov, a journalist with online news outlet 7gun.az, was arrested as he was filming interviews with people about the economic effects of the lockdown. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating lockdown rules, despite having official documents which gave him permission to work as a journalist. Moreover, he was allegedly assaulted at the police station, his telephone had been searched and footage and recordings deleted.
“The current situation in Turkey and Azerbaijan is unacceptable. In both these member States, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, has been violated for several years. Therefore, I call on both Turkey and Azerbaijan to urgently stop these attacks on journalists, in order to uphold the standards established by the Council of Europe and stick to the values promoted by our Organisation,” the General Rapporteur concluded.
Presidents of EBRD and ADB Confirm Readiness To Help Georgia Return to High Rate of Economic Development in Video Conference With Giorgi Gakharia
Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia held a video conference with the presidents of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regarding the possible assistance and financial resources to be allocated to Georgia due to the challenges associated with the global pandemic.
Economic problems caused by the global spread of COVID-19 were emphasized during the video conference. Funding allocated by EBRD and ADB to the Georgian private sector, Georgian banks, and other business entities was noted in particular.
The sides also discussed post-crisis measures and the assistance that Georgia might receive from the financial institutions, which would enable the government to continue the state funding programs that are being implemented today to support citizens and private businesses.
It was noted that the government team is actively working with the local representatives, as well as the head offices of both EBRD and ADB to jointly develop a package of measures that will focus on overcoming the ongoing challenges.
According to the assessment of the presidents of the financial institutions, the fact that Georgia is successfully coping with the crisis constitutes sufficient grounds to say that the country will very quickly regain the rate and positions of economic development that it possessed at the beginning of 2020. Suma Chakrabarti and Masatsugu Asakawa confirmed their readiness to actively support Georgia in this area.
The Georgian side stressed that EBRD and ADB are very strong and serious partners for Georgia. It was noted that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank have financed extremely important projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Georgia, including in the area of infrastructure. It was noted that all major systemic infrastructural projects funded by them are still in the active phase of implementation today, despite the ongoing crisis.
The head of government thanked EBRD and ADB for their active cooperation and their support of Georgia.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili and Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani participated in the video conference.
EU rejects election results in Georgian region of Abkhazia
On 23 March, the EU issued a statement in reaction to the presidential elections in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.
“The European Union supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, as recognised by international law,” the statement said. “With regard to the so-called presidential elections that took place in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia on 22 March 2020, we recall that the European Union does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework in which they took place.”
The EU added that it will continue to pursue its policy of non-recognition and engagement, and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia will remain fully mobilised in this regard.