Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
/STRASBOURG/ We welcome the political agreement reached yesterday, 8 March, by the majority and opposition in Georgia on the 2020 electoral system, which puts an end to uncertainty that lasted for several months and opens the way to depolarization of the political debate, in the run-up of this year’s elections. Talks were facilitated by representatives of the international community in Georgia including from the European Union, the United States, Germany and the Council of Europe.
We look forward to the adoption in Parliament of the provisions of this agreement, as well as all other necessary changes to the electoral legislation, in line with international recommendations. The Council of Europe including its Venice Commission will continue to offer its assistance to Georgian authorities towards a successful completion of the process.
We commend political parties’ commitment to strive for the highest standards of functioning of Georgia’s judiciary, and protect judicial and electoral processes from inappropriate political interference. This will contribute to upholding the relevant provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Council of Europe standards on electoral matters.
Georgia monitors welcome agreement on 2020 elections
/Strasbourg/ The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlăţean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), have welcomed the agreement between the Georgian ruling majority and opposition on the election system to be used for the 2020 parliamentary elections, as well as their pledge to refrain from politicising the electoral process and the judiciary.
“This is an important agreement that can help to de-escalate political tensions and contribute to the democratic consolidation of the country. it is now important that the agreement is fully implemented, both in its letter and in its spirit. We look forward to discussing the agreement and its implementation with all stakeholders during our visit this week,” said the co-rapporteurs.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
Given the increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in certain regions of the Italian Republic, and the fact that some airlines have cancelled or reduced the number of flights, Georgian citizens are strongly advised against visiting, except where necessary, Italy, and in particular, its north regions: Lombardia, Veneto and Emilia- Romagna,
Please be aware that several coronavirus cases are also reported in Lazio, Abruzzo, Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Sicilia, Marche, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Toscana, Piedmont, Bolzano, and Liguria.
We highly recommend that Georgian citizens staying in Italy closely follow the host government’s instructions and, where necessary, contact the Georgian embassy in Rome by ringing its hotline: +333 8879123.
The embassy of Georgia to the Italian Republic sends recommendations on coronavirus prevention measures and restrictions to Georgian citizens registered at the Georgian consular office, as well as to Georgian Diaspora organizations based in Italy.
The Coronavirus Spreads the Virus of Human Rights Violation and Intolerance
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus infections in South Korea with many cases found among members of a Christian denomination named the Shincheonji Church of Jesus is raising concerns that hatred and animosity targeted to the specific religious organization increase human rights violations.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), an organization under the Ministry of Welfare and Health, stated that 123 additional cases have been confirmed with the total of 556 as of February 23. Many of confirmed cases were found in the city of Daegu and the North Gyeongsang Province.
South Korean prime minister Chung Sye-Kyun in his public statement asked citizens to cooperate with the government and avoid large-scale gatherings and the virus has low fatality rate and can be cured sufficiently by early isolation and treatment.
But the South Korean government did not mention prohibition of entry from China, which has constantly been raised by Korean Medical Association and opposition parties. For the online national petition to the executive office for the President of South Korea on the prohibition of entry, no official responses have been made by the government despite 760,000 supports. The South Korean public news agency, Yonhap News, introduced the possible relationship between the influx of 1,000 Chinese school trips to Daegu last month.
The Shincheonji Church, which has gained main attention for the virus proliferation and counteraction, released a statement on the same day that the church is in close cooperation with the health authorities, including offering the full list of members the Shincheonji Church in Daegu to the KCDC, as many members of the church have been exposed to the virus after the 31st confirmed case from a member of the church was found.
With the fear of increasing infection cases, major newspaper reports and social media posts in South Korea turn their eyes on the Shincheonji Church, many of which are speculative information. Some South Korean media owned by the conservative and fundamentalist Protestant groups that have denounced Shincheonji released an article saying that Shincheonji ordered its members to participate in other church services so that the Coronavirus is not solely the Shincheonji problem.
“As a scholar who has studied Shincheonji, I am concerned with the fact that international media that obviously know nothing about it have “discovered” this church overnight because of the coronavirus incidents in Korea, and have repeated inaccurate information they found on low-level Internet sources,” said Prof. Massimo Intovigne, a well-known Italian sociologist of religion and the managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions).
“Even of more concern is the fact that Shincheonji members who have contracted the virus, who are the victims in this story, are being treated unfairly by the Korean media and described as “cultists.” Worse still, some Shincheonji members have been insulted, discriminated and forced out of their jobs, as scapegoats for what has become a national and international hysteria about the virus,” added Prof. Intovigne.
The negative attitude against the new Christian denomination is on the ground of decades-long confrontation with the conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups whose political activism raised controversies on corruption, which triggered breakaway from these groups and joining the new Christian movement led by Shincheonji.
“Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the illegal activities of the conservative church in South Korea, such as kidnapping and confinement for forced conversion, resulted in violence against the rapid increase of Shincheonji members. Intensifying the degree of indiscriminate hatred promoted by unfounded information in media and communication platforms poses a continuing, grave concern for the already gross violation of human rights against them,” said Willey Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF).
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)
To prevent introduction and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Georgia, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia advises Georgian citizens against visiting and travelling to countries at high coronavirus epidemic risk: China, Special Administrative Region of China -Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and other countries with reported cases of COVID-19, as reported by the World Health Organization (please see the link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
Georgian citizens already staying in the countries indicated above are strongly advised to comply with recommendations of the health ministries of the host countries, to keep away from crowded places and to practice good personal hygiene. Where necessary, they can contact Georgia’s consular offices abroad around-the-clock.
Foreign citizens crossing the Georgian border during the given period will be subject to the following restrictions:
For persons who are not citizens of Georgia:
- Any foreign national who has been staying in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the last 14 days will be restricted from entering Georgia;
- Any foreign national who has been staying in China, Republic of South Korea, Italy, Japan during the last 21 days will be required to report about this fact, undergo intensive checking procedures, wait until the test results become available, follow the decision of healthcare professionals (quarantine, self-isolation, retreat) and fully observe their recommendations;
For citizens of Georgia:
- Citizens of Georgia who have been staying in the territory of Iran for the last 14 days are required to report about this fact, undergo intensive checking procedures and remain in 14-day quarantine;
- Citizens of Georgia who have been staying in China, Republic of South Korea, Italy, Japan during the last 14 days will be required to report about this fact, undergo intensive checking procedures, wait until the test results become available, follow the decision of healthcare professionals (quarantine, self-isolation, retreat) and fully observe their recommendations;
The rules and procedures listed in Part 1 will also apply to those traveling by car in the territory of Georgia.
Motor vehicles of any third country can travel to Iran through the territory of Georgia.
Motor vehicles of any third country will not be allowed to travel from Iran to Georgia, or to any third country via the territory of Georgia.
To avoid the spread of Coronavirus, please check the links below for the travel advice of WHO:
Official visit of the president of Congress to Georgia
22-25 February, Georgia – The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Anders Knape, will pay an official visit to the country. Accompanied by Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer, the President will meet in Tbilisi with the Mayor Kakha Kaladze, the Deputy Chairman of Parliament Kakhaber Kuchava, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lasha Darsalia, the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili, and the Public Defender Nino Lomjaria. Meetings are also scheduled in Gori with the Mayor of the city and the Governor of Shida Kartli region, as well as with the Georgian Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and with the members of the Georgian delegation to the Congress.