16th South Caucasus Media Conference - Strengthening media freedom and safety of journalists in a changing environment
The 16th South Caucasus Media Conference titled "Strengthening media freedom and safety of journalists in a changing environment" will be held in Tbilisi on 9-10 October 2019.
The conference will gather participants from Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia representing the public authorities, media, journalists' associations, civil society, academia, and international experts to discuss the issues of the regulatory frameworks, safe working environment, and new media technologies.
The event will offer four plenary sessions providing an overview of media freedom developments in the region, as well as focus on news creation, quality journalism and distribution of media in the age of digital reporting; the safety of journalists offline and online in times of political change; and the regulatory environment for media freedom and media pluralism.
The working languages will be English and Russian with simultaneous interpretation.
The event will take place at the Hotel Marriott Courtyard Tbilisi.
Special meeting of OSCE Permanent Council held on situation in Nagorno-Karabakh context
VIENNA, 29 September 2020 – A special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict context was convened at 17:00 local time in Vienna today by Albania’s 2020 OSCE Chairmanship. The meeting was attended by representatives of the OSCE’s 57 participating States.
Opening the meeting, Ambassador Igli Hasani, Chair of the Permanent Council, reiterated the Chairmanship’s alarm at the ongoing clashes and deterioration of the situation on the ground. Dismayed by the rising number of casualties, he repeated the OSCE Chairmanship’s call for an immediate de-escalation and offered condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured.
Briefing the Permanent Council, Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, said he was receiving information directly from the ground and local interlocutors at the highest level. Ambassador Kasprzyk said he was in constant communication with the sides, and said his team were ready to resume monitoring on the ground as soon as the situation permits.
Representatives of the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries – France, Russian Federation and the United States of America – reiterated the Co-Chairs’ appeal to all sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution to the conflict.
The Albanian OSCE Chairmanship repeated the importance of a negotiated solution and its support for the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Ambassador Kasprzyk in their efforts to stabilize the situation on the ground.
The Group of Friends of Georgia to OSCE has released a joint statement on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Russia-Georgia WarThe Group of Friends of Georgia to OSCE including Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America delivered a joint statement at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting, on 3 September 2020. The statement reads that twelve years since the Russian military invasion of Georgia, we remain deeply concerned over the continued occupation of parts of the territory of Georgia and underlineს the need for the peaceful resolution of the conflict based on full respect for the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and international law. The delegations call upon the Russian Federation to fulfill immediately its clear obligation under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions. The members of the Group of Friends are deeply concerned over humanitarian conditions of civilians in conflict-affected areas, human rights abuses, and the increased Russian military exercises and build up in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. “We are concerned by the intensified provocations by the Russian Federation and the regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali that continued unabated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are particularly concerned over the installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the administrative boundary lines (ABLs) of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, and the lengthy closure of so-called crossing points in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions along the ABLs. These actions have destabilized the situation on the ground and severely impacted the security, safety, well-being, and humanitarian conditions of civilians in conflict-affected areas, particularly in Akahalgori and Gali districts.” – reads the statement. According to it, Dozens of people died over the past year as they were deprived of the possibility of getting prompt and adequate medical care, due to the closures of the so-called crossing points. The delegations express their deep concern over the shooting and wounding of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze and call for the International Committee of the Red Cross to be provided prompt access to all detainees, and further for immediate release of those under illegal custody. The Group is following closely the case of the death of Georgian citizen Irakli Kvaratskhelia in detention at the Russian Military base in Georgia’s Abkhazia region. The Group also condemns the killing of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria, and Davit Basharuli, and urges the Russian Federation, as the state exercising effective control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to remove any obstacles to bringing the perpetrators to justice. “In this context, we reiterate our support for Georgia’s preventive steps aimed at eradication of the sense of impunity for crimes committed in its territory under the Russian Federation’s control and note the adoption of the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List by the Government of Georgia” – reads the statement. The delegations welcome Georgia’s compliance with the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement and Georgia’s unilateral commitment not to use force, and call on the Russian Federation to reciprocate, and to affirm and implement a commitment not to use force against Georgia. They support the Geneva International Discussions (GID) and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) underlining the necessity of progress within these formats. The OSCE Member States support the peace initiative of the Government of Georgia, ‘A Step to a Better Future’, aimed at improving the humanitarian and socio-economic conditions of people residing in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions and at fostering confidence building among divided communities to the benefit of all affected people. They welcome the program’s initial successes, including the launch of its education programs and the “Enterprise for a Better Future” grants program, which already registered high interest and engagement of communities on all sides of the administrative boundary lines, as well as the establishment of the Peace Fund for a Better Future, and we look forward to supporting its continued implementation. The Group of Friends of Georgia reaffirmed that “they will continue to raise awareness of the conflict and of developments on the ground, hold Russia accountable for its obligations and commitments, and advocate for the conflict’s peaceful resolution”. Source: https://mfa.gov.ge/News/euto-shi-saqartvelos-megobarta-jgufma-ruset-saqart.aspx?CatID=5&lang=en-US
“Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats” and is signed by 13 USA Congressmen
Georgia is a democratic U.S. ally that has sent troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the US Security Strategy, which is entitled “Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats” and is signed by 13 Congressmen.
The document refers to the strengthening of Georgia’s readiness and defense capabilities by enacting the Georgia Support Act. “The Task Force believes that Congress should continue to work to strengthen Georgia’s readiness and defense capabilities by approving arms sales to Georgia in support of its efforts against Russian aggression, offering military assistance, and improving Georgia’s interoperability with NATO. The Georgia Support Act, which has passed the House but not the Senate, mandates a report on how the United States can work with Georgia to counter Russian disinformation and ensure Georgian security needs. It also requires the president to impose sanctions against foreign persons responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali”, reads the document signed by RSC Chairman, Rep. Mike Johnson; Rep. Ann Wagner; Rep. Jack Bergman; Rep. Ralph Norman; Rep. Rob Wittman; Rep. Michael Waltz; Task Force Chairman, Rep. Joe Wilson; Rep. Alex Mooney; Rep. Neal Dunn; Rep. Dan Crenshaw; Rep. Bryan Steil; Rep. Don Bacon; Rep. Clay Higgins.
The document also addresses the need to impose sanctions on the leaders of Russia's disinformation campaign. “Sanctions on Russia should be extended to the leaders of its disinformation campaigns. Additionally, current sanctions have not sufficiently addressed Putin’s foreign cronies who undermine the sovereignty of former-Soviet countries.”
“Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in Georgia, is a close ally of Putin and involved in destabilizing Georgia on Russia’s behalf.” Viktor Medvedchuk is a proRussian oligarch and proxy in Ukraine who has used his media empire to actively assist Russia’s efforts to spread harmful disinformation within the country.282 Furthermore, the Department of State should produce a report listing Kremlin-connected oligarchs who help finance Russian military aggression through proxies and mercenary armies. Such a report would be useful for Congress to determine the necessity of future sanctions and would deter individuals and entities from working with the Kremlin.”
The authors of the document recommend to sanction Russian propaganda chiefs and those undermining U.S. partners from the former Soviet Union and to direct the Department of State to produce a report on Kremlin-connected oligarchs who finance Russian military aggression.
Georgia uses all available mechanisms to consolidate the international community - Zalkaliani on the latest developments across the occupation line
The situation in Georgia’s occupied territories and the latest developments across the occupation line were discussed during a meeting between the Georgian Foreign Minister, David Zalkaliani and the European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, Toivo Klaar.
“We discussed in detail the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories. Expressing Georgia’s clear position regarding the illegal borderization process I urged the EU Special Representative as one of the key actors in the Geneva Process to press for this issue in a bilateral dialogue with the Russian Federation, as well as in their communication with the occupation regimes” – Zalkaliani said following the meeting.
According to him, the occupation regime’s attempts to use humanitarian issues to attain its illegal political aims are unacceptable and this must end immediately. Zalkaliani underlined that he will use all available mechanisms, including international formats to discuss this issue during his visits in Strasbourg and Vienna where he will hold meetings at the Council of Europe, and will also participate in the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council and will conduct bilateral meeting within OSCE.
“To the occupation regime’s efforts to escalate the process we should oppose our consistent position and continue to mobilize and consolidate the international community and to use the Geneva format to its maximum to achive further de-escalation of the situation” – the Minister said adding that Georgia will propose measures that need to be taken to ensure free movement on the ground.
The EU Special Representative, for his part, highlighted that all needs to be done to open the crossing points to relieve the local population of the problems they are currently facing.
Sergey Lavrov: we are grateful to Turkmenistan for the wonderful organization of the work of the CIS Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs
“We are grateful to Turkmenistan for the wonderful organization of the work of the CIS Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs”, said Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, addressing the mass media representatives.
“Today, we have completed the process of approving a very important document that was initiated by President of Turkmenistan Mr. Gurbanguly Myalikgulyyevich Berdimuhamedov. I am talking about enhancing partnership in the foreign-policy sphere between the CIS member states.
“This is a very important document that lays the vectors for further work in international organizations and other platforms, including regional structures such as OSCE, and this is very useful. Second, the project of the Appeal to the people of the world with regard to the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War was adopted. It was agreed to promote the relevant memorable events in frames of the UN and OSCE.
“The new for our CIS Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs document – as suggested by the Russian Federation it was adopted the declaration of ministers on the Prevention of Militarisation of Outer Space. There are a lot of warning signs that some states have plans in this area. This is crucial to draw attention to them and agree on the conditions for the non-placement of weapons in space.
“The draft strategy for cooperation in the sphere of international information security and the documents on strengthening military cooperation, including the establishment of a joint unit for humanitarian demining and the formation of joint communication systems were adopted. I’m sure that the heads of states will make important strategic decisions aimed at deepening and strengthening the CIS”, emphasized the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
The state news agency of Turkmenistan