David Zalkaliani has discussed the situation in Gugutiantkari with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office
Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani had a telephone conversation with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Miroslav Lajčák on the continuation of illegal process of erecting artificial barriers in the village of Gugutiantkari.
David Zalkaliani provided the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office with detailed information on the increasing number of provocations across the occupation line, including the installation of artificial barriers in Gugutiantkari and the kidnapping of 8 citizens of Georgia from there.
According to the Minister, the erection of artificial barriers in the village of Gugutiantkari coupled with the continued practice of illegal detentions and kidnappings of Georgian citizens by the occupation forces aggravates the already difficult humanitarian situation and the security environment on the ground, and represents a clear attempt to further destabilize the situation.
Zalkaliani urged the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to employ all international levers at his disposal to ensure that the illegal installation process is stopped and the kidnapped citizens of Georgia are returned to their families.
The Georgian Foreign Minister also urged Miroslav Lajčák to place the issue of Georgia high on the international agenda. The sides also highlighted the importance of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office’s arrival in Georgia to assess the situation on the ground.
Reaffirming his support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office emphasized the need to ensure security on the ground.
David Zalkaliani has held a farewell meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador to Georgia
On 23 July 2021, the Vice Prime-Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani held a farewell meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador to Georgia, Desislava Ivanova.
The Minister highlighted the Bulgarian Ambassador’s outstanding contribution towards strengtyhening traditionally friendly relations between Georgia and Bulgaria. Talking points included the increasing dynamics of high-level visits and successful sectoral cooperation. Special focus was placed on trade-economic links, cooperation in the sectors of transport and communications, education and culture.
Desislava Ivanova, for her part, expressed her gratitude to the Minister for the fruitful cooperation between the two countris in bilateral and multilateral formats. The Ambassador reaffirmed Bulgaria’s firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
At the end of the meeting, the Minister thanked the Ambassador for her active work during the past five years and wished her success in her future career.
U.S. Embassy Statement on the Appointment of Judges
Parliament’s July 12 decision to approve six Supreme Court judicial nominations, despite an explicit agreement by Georgia’s political leaders in the April 19 Agreement to “refrain from making appointments to the Supreme Court under existing rules”, is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, this nomination and appointment process, and the failure to undertake inclusive, comprehensive judicial reform, fell short of the commitment Georgia’s leaders, including the ruling party, made to implement the April 19 Agreement in good faith.
The parties agreed to conduct ambitious judicial reform through a broad, transparent process that includes legal experts, civil society, and opposition parties. Unilateral legislative changes, including those adopted against the advice of international partners while the April 19 Agreement was being negotiated, are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Agreement. In particular, the early April amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts failed to fully address Venice Commission recommendations, including a key recommendation related to staggering judicial appointments.
The failure to pause the appointment process until after comprehensive judicial reform could take place has real consequences. Legal experts and civil society organizations have highlighted that Parliament’s flawed process did not advance the most qualified nominees, resulting in less-qualified judges receiving lifetime appointments on the court. As a July 9 report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) found, this nomination process, “took place in an environment where there is a lack of public trust in the independence of the judiciary,” and “applications, background checks, and interviews established by the High Council of Justice for these nominations fell short of international standards.” Given this context, it was imperative that Parliament pause the appointment process to allow for inclusive, comprehensive reform reflecting the input of legal experts, civil society, and opposition. Parliament had the authority to do so and a pause would not have unduly burdened the judiciary’s operation. The decision not to do so is therefore very concerning and constitutes a significant missed opportunity to strengthen confidence in Georgia’s judiciary and advance its democratic development.
The United States stands ready to continue our efforts to support Parliament and the people of Georgia in credible efforts to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law in Georgia.
David Zalkaliani and Olivér Várhelyi have discussed the EU investment plan for 2022
On 7 July 2021, the Georgian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani held a meeting with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi. Discussing important dimensions of EU-Georgian relations, the sides expressed their commitment to further deepen cooperation.
Particular attention was paid to the EU investment plan for 2022, which determines goals of the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020. The sides highly appraised the economic and investment plan envisaging mobilization of assistance for partner countries in their efforts to eliminate negative consequences of the pandemic and achieve economic recovery. The sides also discussed Georgia-initiated flagship initiatives, including those on Black Sea energy, transport and digital connectivity, fully reflecting the priorities of the Georgian government.
Talking points also included expectations for Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled for December 2021, where EaP goals beyond 2021 will be approved and Joint Declaration will be adopted.
The sides also spoke about the need to maintain security and stability in the region and Georgia’s important role in this context. Special attention was paid to the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories and the EU’s role in the peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict.
“Today when Georgia is so closely linked to Europe and aspiring to its European roots, the Leuville Georgian Academy takes on a particular importance” – David Zalkaliani
The Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani, the Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs, Tea Tsulukiani, together with the Leuville Mayor participated in the ceremony marking the completion of the first stage of Leuville Estate rehabilitation works, including the opening of the Orangery Building.
The ceremony was attended by Diaspora representatives, members of the Parliament, the Embassy of Georgia to the French Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking before the audience, the Georgian Vice Prime Minister emphasized the importance of the Leuville estate in terms of strengthening the Georgian identity in Europe.
“The transfer of Leuville Estate to Georgia in 2016 represents fulfilment of the last wish of the members of Georgia's First Democratic Republic”- said Zalkaliani. According to him, for many years the Leuville Estate served as a kind of haven for Georgian political emigrants.
In the words of the Minister, extensive works, both organizational and technical, have been recently completed through the involvement of both Georgian and French experts. The rehabilitation of Leuville Chateau and the construction of new facilities will start in the near future.
It needs to be highlighted that the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs was tasked by the Government to lead the second stage of reconstruction-rehabilitation works given the fact that the second stage is largely made up of cultural components. David Zalkaliani thanked Tea Tsulukiani success in her efforts to bring to completion the Leuville Estate rehabilitation project. He also expressed his gratitude to the French side.
Within the framework of the visit to the French Republic, the Georgian delegation led by the Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani and the Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs, Tea Tsulukiani paid tribute to the memory of members of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia and historical diaspora representatives reposed in Leuville cemetery.
David Zalkaliani and Tea Tsulukiani visited the Leuville-sur-Orge commune to mark the completion of the first part of the rehabilitation works ongoing in Leuville Estate.
Statement of the MFA Georgia
Our goal and ambition is to create a unified national process and to develop a strategic vision on de-occupation and peaceful conflict resolutionAccording to the Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani, the Prime Minister and Government of Georgia launched Government Commission to elaborate and implement the Georgian State Strategy for De-occupation and Peaceful Conflict Resolution. The Commission will be chaired and coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
In the words of Zalkaliani, this will be a highly responsible and inclusive process, which will involve all segments of society, including state agencies and institutions, as well as civil society – research centres, non-governmental organizations, experts, conflict-affected community and the wider community.
“Our goal and ambition is to create a unified national process and, rather than division and break-up, to develop a common state approach to and a strategic vision on the de-occupation and peaceful conflict resolution. By the end of the year, an increasing number of meetings, dialogues, discussions and consultations will be held at the interagency level, as well as with the involvement of civil society, in order to jointly develop a state vision on a peaceful and unified Georgia” – Zalkaliani said.
According to the Vice Prime Minister, amid the escalating security environment in our region and the newly emerged geopolitical challenges facing the country, as well as against the background of Russia’s constant provocations and steps towards de-facto annexation of Georgian territories leading to the gradually deteriorating situation in Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, Georgia’s policy in the face of new challenges needs to be more effective. In order to duly respond to new challenges in the region, it is critically important to create a revised, comprehensive and inclusive peace policy, involving the wider community – the policy which will provide for result-oriented activities in all strategic areas: withdrawal of the Russian troops from the Georgian territory, conflict resolution, establishment of peace and security, return of IDPs, offering a dignified future and best development prospects to the conflict-affected communities in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, as well as Shamgona and Khurvaleti.
“We should do our utmost to be able to live in a Georgia where there will be no occupation forces and dividing lines. We heavily rely on our strategic partners in achieving the foregoing. Our unity and inclusive peace process is critically important to get started the process of de-occupation and unification, through the proactive involvement of the international community” – the Foreign Minister is quoted as saying.