EU disburses third and final €500 million tranche of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
On 14 December, the European Commission disbursed the third and final tranche of €500 million under the exceptional €5 billion macro-financial assistance (MFA) operation for Ukraine. The payment is part of a package of MFA measures announced by the Commission on 18 May and endorsed by the European Council on 23-24 June 2022.
With this payment, the total amount of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine since the start of the war in Russia has reached €7.2 billion. The funds have been made available to Ukraine in the form of highly concessional loans with longer maturities than in a regular MFA.
This disbursement follows a positive assessment by the Commission of Ukraine’s implementation of seven structural policy measures agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 3 October. The measures aim to strengthen the country’s economic resilience and stability, improve the business climate, strengthen the rule of law and governance and ensure Ukraine’s energy security. Ukraine has also successfully complied with the enhanced reporting requirements of this exceptional MFA.
The Commission has already disbursed to Ukraine €600 million in March and a further €600 million in May this year, followed by €1 billion in August, €2 billion in October, and €2.5 billion in November.
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EU celebrates family connections: discover the photo contest winner from Georgia!
Natela Grigalashvili is the winner of the Family Connections Photo Contest for Georgia, with her project “The Final Days of Georgian Nomads” rewarded at a gala awards event announcing the winners of the EUNEIGHBOURS EAST - FOTOFESTIWAL photo contest on Friday 31 March 2023 at the Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum.
The photo contest, funded by the European Union, invited professional photographers from the six Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - to enter a set of photographs around the theme of Family Connections, with one photographer from each country winning a prize of €1,000.
The gala awards event was hosted by Pawel Herczynski, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia and Nestan Nizharadze, the co-founder of Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum, and attended by local celebrities, and media, bloggers and influencers from across the region.
Presenting the awards, Ambassador Pawel Herczynski said: "Through this photo contest, we are proud to showcase the EU's commitment to fostering cultural exchange and promoting the power of photography as a tool for reflection and change. The theme of Family and family connections highlight the importance of our shared values and the role Family plays in shaping our societies. Congratulations to all the photographers for their creative and inspiring interpretations."
The photo competition sought personal interpretations around the theme of ‘family connections’: how does family connect us to our roots, culture, traditions, attitudes and future? Which connections define a family and make us belong? How do these connections adapt to changing worlds, technology, conflict, love and loss?
Georgian winner Natela Grigalashvili is a freelance documentary photographer based in Tbilisi, working mainly on long-term documentary projects in rural areas of the country. Her winning project, “The Final Days of Georgian Nomads”, examines the lives of nomad families in mountainous Adjara.
This is how Natela Grigalashvili describes her award-winning project:
“Mountainous Adjara is one of the most unique regions of Georgia, an area where the traditions and old ways of life have been preserved to this day. The isolation and alienation of the inhabitants of this mountainous area has been an ongoing issue for a long time, and the past decades have been especially challenging. The difficult social and economic situation in the country has hindered its development and the integration of its inhabitants with the rest of the country.
“For years, the inhabitants of Adjara have been unable to access proper education, health care and many other services. Villages often experienced electricity shortages and during harsh winters they were usually cut off from the outside world. Due to the absence of basic living conditions, many Adjarian villages are now empty. Many families have become eco migrants as they were forced to move to other regions of Georgia or abroad, mostly to Turkey. Khulo and Ghorjomi Gorge are the highest settlements of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. There are 18 different villages of various sizes in the Gorge. Because of their small population, some of these villages only have elementary schools and high school students have to attend schools in other villages. The roads between these villages are damaged and the infrastructure is faulty.
“Almost all of the inhabitants of these villages are Muslim, and there are mosques in every large village. The residents are mostly cattle breeders, but due to the lack of pastures, cattle owners take their herds to the mountains in the summer and stay there until late autumn. Nomadic Adjarians have to move several times a year. But despite this, most of the men still have to work in Turkey, holding seasonal jobs for additional income. Because of this difficult situation, this mountainous region is slowly emptying and its unique tradition and lifestyle is being forgotten.”
Natela was one of three shortlisted photographers from Georgia. The other two were Ekaterine Kolesnikova (Morning Comes Too Soon) and Tako Robakidze (Peacekeepers).
The six winners were chosen by team of five top international judges from a total of more than 400 initial applications, narrowed down to a shortlist of 18 photographers – three from each country – who were all invited to the awards event in Tbilisi.
The other national winners are Nazik Armenakyan (Armenia), Orkhan Azimov (Azerbaijan), Pasha Kritchko (Belarus), Katerina Shosheva (Moldova), and Marysia Myanovska (Ukraine).
The gala awards event was attended by the EU Ambassador to Georgia, as well as photographers, media, content creators and influencers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.
The day before the awards ceremony, on 30 March, the shortlisted photographers took part in a masterclass with the international judges of the competition.
The contest was organised by the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST programme, in partnership with Polish Fotofestiwal.
About Natela Grigalashvili
Natela Grigalashvili is a freelance documentary photographer based in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the past, Grigalashvili worked as a photo reporter as well as a film operator. At the beginning of her career, she used to shoot with black-and-white film but for more than a decade Grigalashvili has been taking colour photographs with a digital camera. She now mainly works on long-term documentary projects in the rural areas of Georgia, focusing on the lives and issues of people living in villages and provincial cities. While working on a photo series, Grigalashvili focuses on the story which is told by the image.
Photo Contest: discover the 18 shortlisted finalists
Eighteen photographers – three each from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – have been shortlisted for the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST – FOTOFESTIWAL photo contest around the theme of ‘family connections’.
The 18 finalists have been invited to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, where six winners – one from each country – will be announced at a gala awards event on 31 March, taking home a prize of €1,000 each.
From a total of more than 400 applications, the team of five top international judges eventually drew up the shortlist of three photographers from each country.
The competition invited photographers to submit a set of between 8 and 20 photographs with their personal interpretations around the theme of ‘family connections’: how does family connect us to our roots, culture, traditions, attitudes and future? Which connections define a family and make us belong? How do these connections adapt to changing worlds, technology, conflict, love and loss?
Each shortlisted entry has a special page on the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST website, where you can view the selected photo stories. The 18 shortlisted photographers are:
Nazik Armenakyan – My War (Fragmentary Experience)
Orkhan Azimov – Remote from Education
Aziz Karimov – Azerbaijan Implements Measures to Tackle the Coronavirus Outbreak
Pasha Kritchko – Belarusian connections
Veranika Maliauka – Memories of home
Tatsiana Tkachova – Motherland
Natela Grigalashvili – The Final Days of Georgian Nomads
Ekaterine Kolesnikova – Morning Comes Too Soon
Tako Robakidze – ‘Peacekeepers‘
Marysia Myanovska – Oh, brother, where art thou?
The contest is organised by the EU NEIGHBOURS EAST programme, in partnership with Fotofestiwal. EU NEIGHBOURS EAST is an EU-funded regional communication programme that raises awareness of the European Union, its policies and support projects in its Eastern Neighbourhood. Fotofestiwal was established in 2001 as a collective of professionals working with photography, and has since grown into one of the most significant photographic festivals in Europe.
WHO, EU and US donate ambulances to Ukraine to cover health needs during the war
The WHO Country Office in Ukraine, with support from the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated an additional 33 ambulances to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to enable the provision of emergency medical care to patients during the war. The handover of ambulances took place in Lviv, western Ukraine, on 27 March.
The donation includes 20 ambulances equipped with a stretcher and first aid equipment. They are intended for the non-critical transportation of patients. Another 13 ambulances, equipped with patient ventilators, oxygen supply, IV pumps, suction pumps, stretchers, medication bags, will allow for the transportation of seriously injured patients to health facilities.
The ambulances will be handed over to hospitals and emergency centres throughout the country, with a particular focus on eastern Ukraine.
“It is one of our top priorities to support the Ukrainian healthcare system, which has come under extreme pressure since the start of the war,” said Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management. “We are working with partners like WHO to ensure that medical professionals have the means and equipment to reach people in urgent need of medical assistance. These ambulances will save lives across the country, including in hard-to-reach areas.”
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European Peace Facility: Council increases the financial ceiling to nearly €7.98 billion until 2027
The Council adopted a decision increasing the financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility (EPF) to €7.979 billion (in current prices) until 2027, ensuring that additional financial needs can be covered.
The European Peace Facility has now become an integral part of the EU’s support to promote peace and security globally. Today’s decision brings the financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility to over €7.9 billion. Ensuring the financial sustainability of this instrument is crucial for our support not only to Ukraine, but also for our partners in other parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as needs continue to arise.
This decision implements the political agreement reached on 12 December 2022, when the Council decided to increase the overall EPF financial ceiling by €2 billion (in 2018 prices) in 2023, and allow for the possibility of a further increase at a later stage (up to €5.5 billion in 2018 prices until 2027).
The Council also decided to set a financial reference amount for the common costs of the EU Crisis Management Military Exercise 2023 (MILEX 23) at €5 million and introduce more flexibility in the collection and use of financial contributions from member states and in their use by the facility.
In its conclusions of 15 December 2022, the European Council reiterated the global dimension of the Facility and welcomed the agreement in the Council on 12 December 2022 to ensure its financial sustainability.
Background and next steps
The European Peace Facility was established in March 2021 to finance all common foreign and security policy (CFSP) actions relating to military and defence matters, with the aim of preventing conflict, preserving peace, and strengthening international security and stability. In particular, the European Peace Facility allows the EU to finance actions designed to strengthen the capacities of non-EU countries and regional and international organisations in relation to military and defence matters.
The EPF is an off-budget instrument and originally had an overall financial ceiling of €5 billion in 2018 prices for the period 2021-2027, with annual ceilings that ranged from €420 million in 2021 to €1.132 billion in 2027.
Thanks to the EPF, the EU has been supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces through seven successive support packages so far, as well as many other countries such as: Mozambique, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Mali, Somalia, Niger, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Mauritania, as well as military components of African-led Peace Support Operations and multinational units such as the Balkan Medical Task Force.
- European Peace Facility: Council agrees €2 billion increase of the financial ceiling in 2023 (press release, 12 December 2022)
- European Peace Facility (background information)
With us, not for us: conference in Georgia calls for inclusive environment for people with Down Syndrome
On the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day, a conference entitled “With Us, Not for Us” was held in Georgia on 21 March.
The event was organised by the Down Syndrome Association of Georgia with the support of the European Union (as part of ‘HumanRights4All’ initiative) , the United Nations Development Programme, and Open Society Georgia.
Non-governmental organisations, organisations of persons with disabilities, and organisations of parents of children with Down Syndrome took part in the conference.
Participants discussed existing problems and the possibility of creating an inclusive and equitable environment for people with Down Syndrome.
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on 21 March and has been held for 18 years. This year, its slogan is #StandWithUs.
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