Parliament presents Action Plan on implementation of EU-Georgia Association Agreement
This week, the Parliament of Georgia presented an Action Plan that outlines key parliamentary activities for 2019-2020 designed to support the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.
Organised with the assistance of the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the presentation event brought together Georgian law-makers and representatives of civil society, diplomatic missions and international organizations.
Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the EU to Georgia, noted the increased role of the parliament in the implementation of the Association Agreement.
“The EU acknowledges Georgia’s good progress in the implementation of the country’s commitments under the Association Agreement,” Ambassador Hartzell said. “The Parliament of Georgia, as a key institution in this parliamentary democracy, plays an indispensable role in overseeing the implementation process and ensuring further democratic and other reforms.”
The Action Plan has been developed based on the findings of a baseline study supported by the EU and UNDP in 2017.
The Action Plan was adopted by the Parliament Bureau on 19 March 2019. It aims to streamline parliamentary activities and foster a strategic and uniform approach to the process across all involved committees. Three strategic goals described in the Action Plan refer to law-making and legislative approximation, oversight of the implementation of the Association Agreement, and effective public outreach and communication.
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.
Archil Talakvadze elected Chairman of Parliament
Archil Talakvadze, Leader of the Parliamentary Majority has been elected Chairman of the Georgian Parliament. The 94 MPs voted for Talakvadze’s election on the post and 1 – against.
The 101 lawmakers underwent registration for the balloting. MPs of the National Movement and European Georgia parties did not participate in the voting process.
Archil Talakvadze replaced Irakli Kobakhidze on the post of Chairman of Parliament. Kobakhidze quit the post several days ago amid protests after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat in the Georgian parliament.
Talakvadze served as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs in 2014-2016. He was Deputy Minister of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Assistance in 2012-2014.
PACE President, addressing parliament, congratulates Georgia on 20 years of solid progress
Speaking at the solemn ceremony to mark Georgia’s 20 years as a member of the Council of Europe, Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), congratulated the country for having progressed far along the path of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“Georgia’s accession to the Council of Europe 20 years ago was a major step in consolidating democratic institutions and a huge boost for reforms in several important areas. I highly congratulate Georgia for the significant progress made over 20 years: it is a more stable Georgia, based on strong democratic institutions, that is preparing to chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 2019 to May 2020,” said the President.
Ms Maury Pasquier welcomed, in particular, the significant progress made in a number of key areas, including the fight against corruption, reform of the judiciary and the smooth functioning of Parliament. She emphasised that this progress was made possible thanks to the political will and constant efforts of all Georgia’s institutions and political players, along with input from Council of Europe bodies and experts.
“I am proud that Council of Europe bodies and institutions – including the Venice Commission, the Human Rights Commissioner, GRECO and also our Assembly – have been associated with the most important reforms in order to provide the most appropriate expertise. I am sure that this close co-operation will be further strengthened over the next 20 years, and that Georgia will continue to take advantage of our expertise and put our recommendations into action, and that the Council of Europe will continue to benefit from Georgia’s experience and achievements,” she said.
“Georgia now needs to preserve and further develop this democratic acquis, and I am sure that, with the support of the Council of Europe, it will be able to meet the remaining challenges and continue to make progress. In the same way, I hope that with Georgia’s support and input into our organisation, we will also be able to meet the challenges we face,” she concluded.
During her working visit to Georgia, Ms Maury Pasquier met with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, President Salome Zourabichvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and the members of the Georgian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly.
EU launches three new environmental projects in Georgia
The EU is launching three new projects in the sectors of environmental protection and climate change in Georgia. The projects come in addition to the numerous actions already supported by the EU in Georgia and focus on issues such as the rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation systems, construction of modern landfills, the fight against industrial pollution, protection of forests, and health.
The launch of these three environmental projects is testament to the EU's leading role in the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change.
These new initiatives will help Georgia fulfil its international commitments in the sectors of the environment and climate change and will help to better protect the environment and the health of citizens.
On 22 April, Georgia joined the new EU-funded regional initiative “EU4Climate”. This new project is bringing together Georgia and other countries of the Eastern Partnership to tackle climate change. It will help Georgia lower its greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement. It will also help mitigate climate change and limit its negative impacts on the environment and people’s lives.
On 24 April, another new regional EU-funded action, “EU4Environment”, was then presented in the country’s capital of Tbilisi. The project will help Georgia and other countries in the Eastern Neighbourhood preserve natural capital and increase environmental well-being by supporting environment-related action, unlocking opportunities for greener growth and setting mechanisms to better manage environmental risks and impacts.
The country will further benefit from another EU project entitled “Support to implementation of the environmental provisions of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement”. This new project will help Georgia implement environmental commitments included in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and will help better protect Georgian nature, decrease pollution and improve air quality.
The European Union is working together with Georgian authorities to improve the environment and tackle the issue of climate change – both at national and local levels.
PACE calls for an end to sexism and sexual harassment in parliaments
The Assembly today called for a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment in politics, including in parliaments. These recommendations are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments.
They focus on raising awareness of this phenomenon (which is commonplace but widespread and systematic) through surveys and public debate, as well as the introduction of effective complaint procedures and mechanisms for parliaments with effective sanctions that are proportional to the seriousness of the facts and accessible to both Members and staff. Data collection, monitoring and research in this area should also be intensified.
Following the proposals of the rapporteur, Thorhildur Sunna AEvarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), the Assembly also called for the modification of its Code of Conduct to introduce an explicit ban on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and a reference to the protection of dignity.
As the extent of the problem of violence against women in politics has started to be understood only very recently - as part of the #MeToo movement and following a joint IPU/PACE study - all parliaments are invited to join and support the #NotInMyParliament initiative.