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.
Religious Leaders’ Peace Network from 130 Countries Examine the Nature of Religion through Comparative Studies on Scriptures
The Era of Religion Never Fades Away
Scientific innovation and technological progress led many countries to hold unproven prospect that social changes from economic development and industrial advancement will bring out the end of religion.
Far from this “faith”, the issue of religion rises to the surface again, creating new phenomena. While traditional roles of Christianity has diminished in the United States and Europe, the void is filled by increasing presence of new religion through the migration of people with different religious orientations. Also, the governance and social integration have been carried out with the influence of religion in Asian and African countries. Since the 9/11, the rise of extremism and terrorism or such acts of violence in the name of religion persisted. These events have brought the issue of religion to surface both positively and negatively. In order to cope with the latest trend of religion, the international society and religion have created platforms and dialogue in search of new roles religion plays in realization of peace, justice and stability.
Interfaith dialogue begins the restoration of fundamentals of religion
In these contemporary days, religion is considered as a main factor affecting the conflicts in the world. Scholars say that violent acts of extremism have the basis on the misinterpretation of religious scripture as means to mobilize the public and incite angers in the mass number of people.
Imam Anas Hajjar, Head Imam of Finland Islam Community, pays a closer attention to religious scripture and points out that “Because many people interpret the scripture with their own thoughts and ideologies without correctly knowing what is the will of God inside the scripture, and if laymen continue to interpret without true knowledge and study, the problems caused by extremists will continue to occur.”.
There’s a rising voice calling for religious leaders to take a strong stand in restoring the true value of religion to lead humanity into a just and peaceful path, rather than leaning toward any forms of extremisms through misinterpretation.
“Terrorism, sectarian violence and religious conflicts have deprived us of basic human rights, resulting in people under pains that go beyond description. The love and tolerance of love have disappeared in the communities. Selfishness, lack of acceptance of the other and the absence of a culture of tolerance and human values have made the communication even more difficult. However, religion does call for peace among peoples. The seed of peace is possible with this desire and with this longing to change the world,” said Mr. Tharwat Gaid Salama Gaballa, Chairman of Horus foundation for Development and training in Egypt.
The role of leaders in reflecting on religion through scripture to discourage religion as means of violent conflicts
“The common objectives that all religious scriptures pursue are the realization of peace and justice, conflict resolution, human dignity, and valuing diversity. Thus, along with the diverse backgrounds and various factors that cause conflicts, we approach towards the root cause of this hospitality among beliefs, which we define as the misunderstandings that arise from the misinterpretation of these scriptures,” Mr. Gaballa added.
Regarding the role of religious leaders, Imam Anas Hajjar, Head Imam of Finland Islam Community emphasized, “Although political extremism and the hate-speech have been in the rise in Europe, NGOs have a critical role in resisting and opposing this type of breakdown in respect of the laws of religious freedom, peace and harmony in the country. The best way to combat all types of extremism is knowledge and this part of the job is given to scholars and religious leaders.”
“In order to find the truth all the humanity wants religious leaders need to put away the thoughts that only my religion is the best and do the comparative work based on Scriptures without dividing themselves and saying ‘your religion’, ‘my religion’,” said Swami Veetamohananda, Swami (religious leader in Hinduism) of Ramakrishna Veda center.
A Platform for Comparative Studies on Religious Scripture – World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office
From April 1st to 2nd, an international conference named “The Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Approaching the Protracted Conflicts” was held in Romania as the presidency of the European Union by a Romanian think tank Institute of Advanced Studies on Levant Culture and Civilization (ISACCL) in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Romania, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), University of Bucharest, and Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics.
In the conference the role of NGOs and civil societies in developing peace was included to discuss transforming religion from means of violent conflicts to source of peace.
“The culture of earth cannot disguise the one of heaven with a man’s yardstick of judgment. Religion is to learn the world of spirit and teachings of God. This is the heavenly culture that guides us to the world of peace. Through the WARP offices religious leaders have brought religious scriptures to examine trustworthy, physical evidence of religion. In search of the true teachings written in trustworthy scripture, religions should be one under the true teachings. When we continue to do this comparative studies, there will be no more wars triggered by religion,” said Mr. Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL.
A platform for religious leaders as a new attempt to establish a network of peace to enhance understanding of religions through scriptures has been carried out 220 locations from 130 countries. Named “World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office”, this platform since 2014 is designed by HWPL, an international NGO under the UN ECOSOC, to find the nature of religious values for peace building through scriptures. HWPL has its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea and seeks the role of religion in conflict resolution and prevention through the network of global religious leaders.
Oliver Kang, pastor and international missionary of the Evangelical Worldwide Mission Church, said, “Therefore, if we want peace between religions, if we want no more wars, then religions need to turn away from the path of corruption. That is why we are comparing the religious scriptures through the WARP Office meetings. Discussions based on comparing the scriptures is the optimal solution to resolve the problem of corruption.”
“The WARP office is the significant link and the great network for the worldwide religious institutions. It has come to show the cooperation and solidarity of all religious leaders and send the message of tolerance, peace and unity to all people around the world,” said Mr. Gaballa regarding the function of the WARP office.
According to HWPL, this religious network of peace further is further developed to appeal to young generations to build confidence of religion through communication and understanding. “Various religious teaching program for youth such as religious youth peace camp gives lesson for participants to learn about the general history of world religions, find the root cause of and plausible resolutions to religious conflicts and disputes, examine the religious community’s roles for peace, and experience cultural exchanges,” said Dr. Ahmed Jasem Hmood Al-Maliky, Sheikh of Office of the Religious Reference Sheikh Mohammad Al Yaqoobi in Iraq.
“Starting by taking out the prejudice that I am right and you are wrong, let us communicate and interact with each other with these questions in mind: ‘Is what I know always right? Is the other religion always wrong? Or is there something in that religion that mine doesn't have?’ Let us find the best truth and achieve the ultimate value of peace,” he added.
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.
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.
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.
The Georgian Foreign Minister has met with the Chairman of the German Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee
The Georgian Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani met with the German Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee chairman, Norbert Röttgen, within the framework of the Munich Security Conference.
The Minister thanked the member of the German Bundestag for his support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for its European and Euro-Atlantic course. The sides positively appraised Georgia’s achievements and tangible results, which the EU and NATO integration process brought to Georgia.
David Zalkaliani briefed Norbert Röttgen on the difficult security and humanitarian situation and gross violations of human rights on the ground. The importance of due action by the International community, including by the German political community was also highlighted.
The sides also spoke about the ways to further advance co-operation between the legislative authorities of Georgia and Germany. Special note was taken of the German Chancellor’s visit to Georgia and the Georgian President’s upcoming visit to Berlin, which will make the partnership between the two countries even stronger.