Today we celebrate the signing of the two strategic treaties between Japan and Georgia
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.
Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani steps down
Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani has resigned. Machavariani posted the relevant statement on the social network.
Machavariani did not name a reason for his resignation, but explained that he planned to step down at the end of last year, but the decision was postponed for several months due to the important negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the crisis budget approval process.
“I would like to announce my decision to resign as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. I have to say that after almost three years of working as the Minister of Finance, I was planning to resign at the end of last year, but due to the 2021 crisis budget approval procedure and important negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, I decided to wait for several months.
It was an honor for me and at the same time a great responsibility to work with the Georgian Dream political team - with government leaders, with my colleagues in the Cabinet of Ministers, with members of parliament”, reads the Machavariani’s statement.
Ambassador Petr Mikyska opened the first informal meeting of Czech Business Platform in GeorgiaOn March 24, 2021, Ambassador Petr Mikyska opened the first informal meeting of Czech Business Platform in Georgia. The Platform was established on the initiative and under the auspices of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tbilisi. There were nearly thirty representatives of Czech companies operating in Georgia and Georgian entrepreneurs selling Czech products or representing Czech entities participating in the first meeting. Representatives of the Czech non-governmental organizations Caritas Czech Republic in Georgia and People in Need were also present.Among those present were representatives of the largest Czech investors in Georgia ENERGO-PRO and MND (KBOC); representatives of ŠKODA Auto, KOPOS Kolín, Elkoplast, Alka Plast, TON, Eco-Bohemia, Wiemarg; importers, distributors and producers of beer using Czech technologies (Plzeň, Český ráj, Apeni, Ludi Batumuri, U Lva), real estate companies (Stratos, L&R Company Services), tourism (Georgia-Trip), medicine (National Laboratory of Genetics). The director of the Czech Trade office in Baku, P. Zelenka, who also covers Georgia, attended the meeting. The chairman of the newly revived Czech-Georgian Chamber of Commerce, D. Mahovský, informed about the planned activities. In the future, cooperation with other institutions is planned, such as the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic, the Confederation of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic, the Confederation of Municipalities and Cities. Representatives of the non-governmental sector presented the possibilities of cooperation with companies, their involvement in development cooperation projects and the concept of corporate social responsibility.The mission of the Platform is to enable discussion and exchange of views between representatives of companies and Embassy and companies themselves, sharing information, knowledge, skills and experience, strengthening public-private partnerships, ensuring greater regularity in contacts with Czech institutions, building links with Georgian partners and strengthening the brand of Czechia. Last but not least, the Platform should be a place for coordinating the promotion and protection of the interests of Czech companies through the Embassy. The Platform is open to all Czech companies interested in the Georgian market and Georgian companies selling Czech products.During the informal part, the participants shared their experiences from working in Georgia and generally positively assessed the idea of establishing the Platform. The prevailing opinion among those present was that meetings should take place regularly three times a year.Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tbilisi, Georgia
Meeting between Public Defender and US Ambassador
On March 22, 2021, Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia, met with Kelly Degnan, Ambassador of the United States of America to Georgia.
The topic of discussion was the situation of human rights in Georgia. The Public Defender also spoke about the challenges faced by the Office, especailly in recent months, and the obstacles that hinder the full implementation of the Public Defender's mandate, for example when paying visits to semi-open prisons.
"Another visit paid by the US Ambassador to the Public Defender’s Office once again confirms the support that has been constantly expressed by the US Government to our Office," Nino Lomjaria said.
“It was a very informative meeting. It's important to have conversations with the Public Defender and find out what they are working on. It is an essential part of a strong democracy to have a Public Defender's Office that is defending the human rights of all the people of Georgia, working to keep transparency and accountability and democracy strong. I was very sorry to hear that there have been some attacks against the Public Defender's Office. That kind of hate speech is a toxic language, especially against an office that is serving the public in such an important way.
The Public Defender's Office also plays such an important role in keeping public officials accountable, something that Georgia needs to do more; more accountability, more transparency and less hate speech and vicious attacks against others“, the US Ambassador said after the meeting.
Public Defender of Georgia
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.