Grand Chamber ruling concerning an inter-State application
The Court has delivered its judgment in the inter-State case of Georgia v. Russia (II) concerning allegations by the Georgian government that certain administrative practices of the Russian Federation had breached the Convention, in the context of the armed conflict between the two States in August 2008.
In the Court’s view, the events which took place during the active phase of the hostilities (8 to 12 August 2008) did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. However, it held that the Russian Federation had exercised “effective control” over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the “buffer zone” during the period from 12 August to 10 October 2008, the date of the official withdrawal of the Russian troops. After that period, the strong Russian presence and the South Ossetian and Abkhazian authorities’ dependency on the Russian Federation indicated that there had been continued “effective control” over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Court therefore concluded that the events occurring after the cessation of hostilities – that is, following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 – had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It found a number of violations of the Convention.
TELEPHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN AND THE SPEAKER OF THE UPPER HOUSE OF THE PARLIAMENT OF RUSSIA
On December 28, 2021, during the visit of the President of Turkmenistan G.M.Berdimuhamedov to the Russian Federation to participate in an informal meeting of the Leaders of the CIS countries in St. Petersburg, there was a telephone conversation with the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, V.I.Matvienko.
During the conversation, a wide range of issues of bilateral relations in various fields was discussed. Special attention was paid to the progress of inter-parliamentary cooperation between Turkmenistan and Russia. In this context, the President of Turkmenistan and the Speaker of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament discussed the issues related to preparation and holding of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of Central Asian Countries and the Russian Federation in Ashgabat in May 2022. In the course of the conversation, the President of Turkmenistan also proposed to explore the possibility of holding a meeting of the Dialogue of Women of Central Asia and Russia in Ashgabat at the same time.
It was noted that the format of the Women's Dialogue has a great future at the UN level as a platform for interaction in world politics. In this regard, the interlocutors noted the advisability of preparing a special resolution of the UN General Assembly that would emphasize the significance of the Dialogue in increasing the participation of women in state and international activities.
At the end of the conversation, the President of Turkmenistan warmly congratulated the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on the coming New Year, wishing her good health and great successes in her state activity.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the statement made by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers unacceptable the statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, according to which the Russian Federation "considers it necessary to disavow the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision - that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members".
On April 3, 2008, at the NATO Bucharest Summit the leaders of the NATO member states decided that Georgia (and Ukraine) will become a NATO member. The above-mentioned is an extremely important, consensus-based political decision in line with the fundamental principle of international law that all states have the sovereign right to choose their own foreign policy course. Moreover, this decision is based on Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, according to which any European state, which will further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area can become a member of NATO.
NATO integration is a sovereign decision of Georgia, based on the unwavering will of the majority of the Georgian population. This goal is also enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia.
It should be noted that the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision was reiterated at all consequent NATO summits held after 2008. Furthermore, NATO 2021 Brussels summit communiqué underscored that the Allies consider it unacceptable for any third party to interfere in the determination of the countries’ foreign policy priorities.
According to all above-mentioned, any statement made by a third party regarding the revision of the Bucharest Summit decision, which is contrary to the fundamental principles and norms of international law, is unacceptable for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the same time, it should be emphasized that today the main challenge of the European and Euro-Atlantic security architecture are the actions of the Russian Federation, which has occupied and annexed the territories of neighboring sovereign states, neglected the basic principles of international law and has not fulfilled its own international obligations.
Georgian Prime Minister’s meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda
Today, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.
The meeting at the Administration of the Georgian Government focused on the relations between the two countries based on shared values and principles, emphasizing the tremendous dynamism of bilateral interaction. Lithuania is one of Georgia's most active supporters, the parties pointed out.
The conversation revolved around successful and productive cooperation with Lithuania's delegations under various international organizations. The Head of Government thanked the Lithuanian President for ongoing support and the initiation of resolutions concerning Georgia.
The meeting also focused on the importance of deepening the economic cooperation between Georgia and Lithuania, especially in the post-pandemic period, to boost economic growth and people-to-people contacts. In discussing the challenges posed by COVID-19, the parties underlined the importance of access to vaccines. The Prime Minister thanked the President of Lithuania for the decision to donate 15,000 vaccine doses to Georgia.
Lithuania's unequivocal support for Georgia's path toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration was emphasized, and key directions of further joint activities and coordination were outlined. Georgia is preparing to apply for full EU membership in 2024, the Head of Government said and stressed the importance of political and economic reforms to that end. The parties discussed the upcoming NATO Summit, with the issue of Georgia included on its agenda, and expressed hope that the summit's declaration will reflect Georgia's significant progress on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
The meeting also paid special attention to the situation in Georgia's occupied territories and problems plaguing the populations along the occupation lines. The President of Lithuania familiarized himself with said concerns during his visit to the village of Khurvaleti. Gitanas Nausėda reassured Irakli Garibashvili of his firm support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The meeting was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia Andrius Kalindra, Chief Adviser to the Cabinet of the President Ieva Ulčickaitė, President's Foreign Adviser Skirmantė Straigienė, and President's Chief Adviser for Communications Raminta Stanaitytė-Česnulienė, while the Georgian side was represented by Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Georgia's by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Lithuania Levan Ghvachliani.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Georgia: Leading MEPs react to the refusal of the political parties to reach an agreement
In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
Georgia: progress made in fighting human trafficking, but improved victim identification and strengthened criminal justice response required
Strasbourg, 16.03.2021 – In its third report on Georgia’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Council of Europe’s anti-human trafficking monitoring body, GRETA, focuses on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. The report acknowledges progress in implementing the Convention but calls on the authorities to step up their efforts to investigate cases of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators to justice, making sure that victims receive compensation and support towards their rehabilitation.
Since the previous evaluation by GRETA, the Criminal Code of Georgia has been amended to ensure proper qualification of human trafficking offences. Further, the number of special mobile groups set up to carry out the preliminary identification of victims of trafficking was increased from three to four. The number of labour inspectors was also increased, and they received training on detecting cases of human trafficking and forced labour.
Victims of trafficking are entitled to free legal aid during criminal proceedings, which is provided by specifically trained lawyers. GRETA welcomes the existence of a specific legal provision on the non-punishment of victims of trafficking for offences they were compelled to commit, as well as the expansion of the victim and witness co-ordinator services.
However, GRETA considers that additional steps should be taken to ensure that victims and witnesses of human trafficking are provided with effective and appropriate protection from potential retaliation or intimidation. The authorities should further ensure that access to legal aid is guaranteed as soon as there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person is a victim of trafficking, before the persons concerned have to decide whether or not they want to co-operate with the authorities.
Only three victims of human trafficking have received compensation from perpetrators through civil proceedings, and there has been only one judgement in human trafficking cases resulting in the confiscation of assets, the report says. GRETA urges the authorities to take vigorous measures to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation for victims of trafficking, including by introducing a procedure through which victims are entitled to obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal trial, and making full use of the legislation on the freezing and forfeiture of offenders’ assets to secure compensation to victims of trafficking.
In the period 2015-2018, a total of 80 investigations were conducted into human trafficking cases, and there were 15 convictions. GRETA notes with concern that there have been no convictions for trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and urges the Georgian authorities to ensure that human trafficking cases are not re-qualified as other offences which carry lighter penalties.
GRETA is concerned by the decrease in the number of victims identified and the high threshold required to grant the status of victim of human trafficking. GRETA urges the authorities to take further steps to proactively identify victims of trafficking, including amongst foreign workers, asylum seekers and persons placed in immigration detention centres.
The Georgian authorities should also strengthen their efforts in the areas of prevention of child trafficking, paying increased attention to the link between trafficking in children and the use of information and communications technology.
Georgia is primarily a country of origin and, to a lesser extent, a country of destination and transit of victims of trafficking in human beings, according to the report. The total number of victims identified in the period 2015-2019 was 66. Until 2018, the majority of the identified victims were women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but in 2019 all identified victims were Georgian children, trafficked for the purpose of production of child sexual abuse images (23 girls aged from 8 to 18 years) or exploitation of begging (two boys and four girls).
The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. So far, forty-six of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as Belarus, a non-member state.