Georgian Foreign Minister has met the Hungarian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Georgian Vice Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met Hungarian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Laszlo Sabo, who visited Georgia to take part in the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum.
Discussions focused on the relations between Georgia and Hungary and on the future prospects for co-operation. Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Laszlo Sabo expressed their readiness to deepen trade and economic links and, in this regard, underlined the importance of conducting the third session of the Georgian-Hungarian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation on 28-29 October 2015 in Budapest.
Laszlo Sabo reaffirmed Hungary’s strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and wished Georgia success in the process of integration with the European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
15th International Silk Road Conference was held on October 9-10, 2020
15th International Silk Road Conference was held on October 9-10, 2020. Top professionals in the fields of Politics, Journalism, Economics, History, Art, Literature, Culture, Public Administration, Law, Business, and Technology shared their ideas on global and regional challenges and perspectives.
The conference provided its distinguished participants with a unique chance of discussions on important global and regional events and urgent problems.
We had 93 papers authored by 143 researchers from 54 institutions in 18 countries: Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United States.
Dr. Thomas Kruessmann, from the University of Graz delivered his keynote speech on the following topic: Europe-Asia Connectivity in the South Caucasus: Boon or Bane?
DETAILS RELEASED OF GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO STRANGLE ANAKLIA PORT PROJECT
Ruling Georgian Dream Party Reversed its Support for Vital Project,
Wiping Out Economic Benefits for Georgia
TBILISI, GEORGIA, 9 September, 2020 – The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), the company originally selected by the Government of Georgia to develop the strategic Anaklia Port Project, today shared additional details of the Government’s campaign, directed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, to undermine the project by dissuading potential project investors, lenders, contractors and suppliers from joining the project in order to kill it.
The following statement is issued on behalf of the ADC Supervisory Board:
“All infrastructure projects of such scale require government support; namely the encouragement of lenders and investors, the assistance in permitting, regulatory approvals and a favorable tax regime, and providing any ancillary support; in this instance, the provision of land and the construction of road and rail infrastructure. For a government to actually oppose an infrastructure project that it had itself approved is highly unusual in the global economy.
“The Georgian Government’s campaign to strangle ADC’s ability to develop the Anaklia Port Project represents a self-inflicted wound for itself and considerable injury to Georgia’s economy and its role in the region.
“Taken together, the Georgian Government's specific actions are part of a deliberate and well-orchestrated campaign to destroy a project which the Government itself originally sponsored and endorsed, but subsequently chose to destroy as a result of what appear to be the political and economic self-interests of the Georgian Dream Party and its principals.
“The Government manufactured all sorts of excuses for not wanting to see various investors, lenders and partners involved in the project, but the Government really only had one purpose: to choke the project to death by scaring away everybody who might have an interest in supporting it.
“Also, is it beyond coincidence that government ministers – including two Prime Ministers -- who voiced support for the project or otherwise expressed concern about the growing controversy with the project were tendering their resignations shortly after such comments were made?
“The damage to Georgia caused by the Government goes well beyond the potential loss of the Anaklia Port and the associated Special Economic Zone. The conduct of the Government is scaring away investors at a time when Georgia cannot afford to lose any more foreign investment. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of foreign direct investment in Georgia has fallen from nearly US$ 2 billion in 2017 to just over US$ 1.3 billion in 2019, and in the first quarter of 2020, stood at only US$ 171.8 million - a catastrophic decrease even before the Covid crisis began to take effect. As Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis said, ‘the government only has itself to blame.’”
Some examples of the Government’s efforts to strangle ADC and the Anaklia Port Project include:
- Georgian Dream party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili requested to meet with ADC to discuss the Anaklia Port Project and asserted that the expansion of Poti Port could achieve the same objectives of the Anaklia Port at a far lower cost.
- During a June 12 meeting of the Georgian Dream party, attended by more than 100 party officials, Party Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili personally blamed Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for his actions in support of the Anaklia project and for having close ties to ADC investor Mamuka Khazaradze. Mr. Kvirikashvili resigned the day after that meeting.
- In February 2019 ADC learned that during an October 2018 meeting with senior U.S. State Department officials in Tbilisi, Mr. Giorgi Gakharia (then Minister of Interior) advised the U.S. officials that the Anaklia Port project was not in Georgia’s interests.
- SSA Marine, which was selected as the Anaklia Port operator and was a potential investor, alerted ADC of its concerns about what seemed to be the Government’s support of an expansion of the Poti Port. (Following detailed studies sponsored by the Government back in 2013-14, it had been determined that Poti Port could never meet Georgia’s needs for a Deepwater Port, which is why the government itself selected Anaklia for development at that time. The Government’s subsequent expressions of support for expansion at Poti was a clear signal to the lending and investment community that the Government was no longer supportive of Anaklia.)
- A sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it had decided against supporting the project because of the negative actions of the Georgian Government, and the possible shift of support to the Poti Port.
- Another sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it was withdrawing its support because one of its counterparts had just done so (above) due to the state’s apparent shift of support from Anaklia to Poti.
- It has been reported that Infrastructure Minister Maya Tskitishvili, in ministerial hearings before Parliament, undermined SSA Marine as a potential investor and as the port operator, claiming the company lacked experience and financial capacity. These assertions were not true. In the process of her speech, the minister also breached legal obligations of confidentiality that were associated with the investment agreement.
- SSA Marine advised ADC that it was suspending its activities related to the Anaklia Port project.
- Mr. Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, told “Forbes Week” that the negative public discussions and media reports of the Anaklia project were having a negative impact on the business climate within Georgia. He subsequently resigned within days of the interview.
- A major U.S. private equity firm which was in advanced negotiations with ADC to join the project revealed to ADC that Government officials warned the firm to stay away from the project.
- Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, in a trade visit to the U.S., met separately with SSA Marine, the leadership of the U.S. private equity firm that were interested in investing in the project, and with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C. Secretary Pompeo expressed support for the Anaklia project with the prime minister standing next to him, saying it would “strengthen Georgia’s ties with free economies and not allow Georgia to be under the economic influence of Russia or China.” Upon his return to Georgia, Mr. Bakhtadze resigned, and this again put the project in unchartered waters.
- At a meeting in Tbilisi, a large Hong Kong-based private equity group with significant Central Asian transportation synergies that was considering joining the project was told bluntly by Infrastructure Minister Tskitishvili that the Government did not desire their participation in the project. At this same meeting Ms. Tskitishvili reaffirmed the Government’s seeming opposition to SSA Marine’s involvement in the project.
- Giorgi Volski, Vice Speaker of Parliament, falsely claimed that the Hong Kong private equity group mentioned above is a “Russian” company, with the intention either of disparaging it or sowing further confusion about the government's position in respect of the project.
- In a meeting between Prime Minister Gakharia and an Anaklia Supervisory Board member, Mr. Gakharia stated that “things had to get quiet” before he could reassure the major potential U.S. investor of the state’s support for the Anaklia Project, which the board member understood to be a condition that ADC and Mr. Khazaradze stop criticizing the government publicly on its opposition to the Anaklia Project, and the government would stop criticizing ADC.
- Also, the Supervisory Board was promised a letter of support to a U.S. investor from the highest levels of the Government, but this never materialized, even though ADC did comply with the Government’s request.
- A delegation from the U.S. (in Tbilisi to participate in the 5th annual Tbilisi International Conference sponsored by the McCain Institute) met with new Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and subsequently with Mamuka Khazaradze. Representatives of the delegation told Mr. Khazaradze that Prime Minister Gakharia told them the Anaklia project was not commercially viable when this was patently not the case.
- Fadi Asly, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, is quoted in the media saying, “No one will invest in Anaklia project as long as Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to destroy it.”
Taken together, these are only a selection of the instances where the Government of Georgia actively undermined the project in an effort to prevent ADC from developing the project. ADC intends to present evidence during the upcoming arbitration proceedings to demonstrate the degree to which the Government took such steps.
Further details of the Anaklia Port project and ADC can be found at http://anakliadevelopment.com
EU launches new project to target organised crime in the Eastern Neighbourhood
A new Europol-led project, funded by the European Union, has been launched, focused on strengthening the capacity of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to fight organised crime more effectively. The project will contribute to reducing crime and creating a safer living space for citizens in the region.
Through this four-year initiative, Europol will support cooperation between law enforcement authorities, both on a strategic and operational level. Special funding will enable the Eastern Partner countries to participate in operational activities against some of the ten most significant threats to EU security listed under the EU Policy Cycle. Existing networks for information sharing and operational cooperation may be further extended into joint investigations to improve the effectiveness in fighting transnational organised crime.
“This initiative is an important step in developing strong operational cooperation and trust between the law enforcement authorities of the EU Member States and our Eastern partners,” said Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol. “Our aligned efforts will bring a stronger response to the common challenges and cross-border threats we face.”
Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East at the European Commission, stated: “Organised crime networks operate across national borders and destabilise the entire region. Tackling serious and organised crime is a shared challenge by the European Union and its partner countries. By strengthening the strategic and operational cooperation between Europol and partner countries, we are proud to contribute to joint investigation successes.”
Located along the Black Sea and forming part of the ‘heroin route’ from the Middle East to Europe, all six Eastern Partner countries are threatened by organised criminal groups active in the area. These groups are involved in migrant smuggling, organised property crime, trafficking in human beings, firearms and drug trafficking, money laundering, and other related crimes such as document fraud. These criminal syndicates threaten not only the safety and security of people, but also the stability of the Eastern Partnership region and of the whole EU. More cooperation between law enforcement authorities of EU Member States and the Eastern Neighbourhood countries is crucial to improving the effectiveness of the common response to organised crime across borders.
As part of a larger €10 million EU cooperation initiative, the EU has dedicated €2.5 million to support the project that will run for the next four years. Two other components are focused on law enforcement training and threat assessment (a project led by Cepol with the participation of Europol) and on criminal asset recovery (managed by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute - UNICRI).
UN and EU launch ambitious initiative for gender equality in Eastern Partnership
With support from the European Union, the two UN sister agencies will work with government bodies and civil society partners in six countries to challenge deeply ingrained gender stereotypes, increase men’s involvement in domestic work and childcare, and engage with potential perpetrators to prevent gender-based violence.
UN Women and UNFPA, together with the European Union (EU), have launched a three-year regional programme to tackle gender stereotypes and gender-based violence in six countries of the Eastern Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
The programme, entitled “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence,” ultimately seeks to strengthen equal rights and opportunities for women and men by challenging perceptions about men’s and women’s roles in the family and in society and working to eliminate gender-based violence.
“This is our first regional programme covering gender equality in the Eastern Partnership region and we are intensely proud of it,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East in the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission. “We can and we will do more to develop this underused economic and social potential with our Eastern neighbours. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will propose that the future Eastern Partnership be more inclusive.”
A first of its kind, the programme has been informed by an in-depth situation analysis and intergovernmental consultations with the six countries. It is designed to engage a wide range of government bodies, civil society organizations, and individuals.
“We will work closely with governments and civil society organisations in the six countries to ensure the success of the programme,” says Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “This work is even more crucial now as the COVID-19 crisis has put into stark relief the imbalanced distribution of responsibilities based on traditional gender stereotypes.”
The programme aims at achieving real behavioural change. It relies on strategies designed to challenge structural gender barriers and norms, with particular emphasis on transforming gender-stereotyped behaviour, strengthening men’s involvement in parenting and domestic responsibilities, increasing men’s access to parental leave, and reducing the number of people affected by gender-based violence through prevention interventions with potential perpetrators.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, we have unfortunately seen an increase in women’s unpaid care workload and in cases of gender-based violence across the six countries,” says Alanna Armitage, UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Our programme comes at the right time to fight these trends. We all have to work hand-in-hand to build a more just, equal, safe and secure world for all.”
The programme has a budget of €7,875,000 and is anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, launched by the United Nations in 2015, and the EU Action Plan 2016-2020 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women Through EU External Relations. It provides a unique opportunity for the EU and the six participating countries to affect social discourse, perceptions, and practices related to gender equality with the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality and related SDGs.
For more information, please visit: https://europa.eu/european-union/
Press Release of the MFA of Turkmenistan
In connection with the ongoing new type coronavirus pandemic and the comprehensive measures adopted on the part of the international community on counteraction against this global threat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan informs about the following.
The systematic work on preventing the entry of this infection on the territory of the country was implemented by Turkmenistan since the first days of the spread of the COVID-19 in the world.
In this regard, a Governmental Commission was established under the leadership of the President of Turkmenistan that is authorized to resolve organizational, legal, financial, technical and other issues related to the counteraction against the coronavirus. To coordinate the activities of the relevant state agencies, an Operational Center has been created which consists of the representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare and Medical Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Border Service, State Customs Services, State Migration Service and others.
At the first stage of combatting the coronavirus infection, a set of measures on strengthening borderline, customs and migration regulations, as well as the sanitary-epidemiological, phytosanitary and veterinary supervision was adopted.
The system of regular provision of the population with the necessary, free of charge medications contributing to the strengthening of immune system of a human being was arranged.
The clinical examination programme for the population is being carried out and the necessary measures on enhancing the immune status of the people are implemented.
At the same time, Turkmenistan is developing international cooperation aimed at the consolidation of efforts of the world community on combatting the pandemic threat.
Hereby, it is worthwhile to note the active participation of the President of Turkmenistan in the international Summits organized with the aim of counteracting against the pandemic.
Particularly during the Non-Aligned Movement Summit held in May 2020, the President of Turkmenistan set forward the initiative on promoting the scientific diplomacy by proposing the establishment of International Council of Medical Scientists.
The main content of this initiative lies in the establishment of direct contacts between the practicing doctors, scientists in the field of medical science on the following:
firstly, it is proposed to cooperate actively in the area of determining the nature of appearance of the new type coronavirus,
secondly, it is advisable to intensify the work of the scientific medical community in the field of studying the form of onset of the diseases evolved from the new type infection;
thirdly, the need for joint work is highlighted in terms of the search for forms, methods and means of treatment of the acute infectious diseases and their prevention, including the development of vaccines, other special medical substances and many more.
The information on the set of measures carried out by our country and outlined in the letter of the President of Turkmenistan addressed to the Director-General of the World Health Organization stand as one of the significant examples of Turkmenistan’s input in the international efforts on combatting the spread of COVID-19 infection. This letter was distributed as the official document of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
At the same time, on May 28, 2020, the International Forum dedicated to the issues of sustainable development and initiated by Turkmenistan was held. The resulting document of the Forum was also published as the official document of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
In line with the above said, it is pertinent to underline the call of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the Organization’s member-states made on March 30, 2020 on organizing the comprehensive and systematic work on counteraction against the coronavirus threat.
Consequently, the National Preparedness and Response Plan of Turkmenistan for Acute Infectious Disease was adopted in Turkmenistan on the state level on May 22 of current year.
In addition, the Plan of Operational Socio-economic Activities in Turkmenistan on the counteraction against the coronavirus pandemic was affirmed on July 3 of ongoing year.
Currently, jointly with the United Nations’ agencies, Turkmenistan is starting to develop the third National Plan encompassing the humanitarian constituent of the preventive measures implemented by the country against the COVID-19 infection.
Today, the issues of pandemic are subject to professional researches, scientific studies and developments. The scientists of many countries are involved in this work and based on deep scientific analysis they already today attain significant results, having important practical implementation in the process of counteracting against the pandemic.
One of such occasions became the address of 239 scientists from 32 countries of the world with an open letter to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, published on July 4 of current year, which contains information on the results of scientific researches confirming the chances of the new type coronavirus spreading through tiny aerosol droplets retaining in the air for a long time.
Based on the researches of the medical scientific community of Turkmenistan, the Turkmen side supports the above mentioned scientific results.
In this regard, it is pertinent to note that the multiyear researches of the Turkmen doctors, ecologists, specialists in the field of hydrometeorology and other areas of science prove that the substances posing danger for the human health, including the viruses, can be transmitted through air flow in the sensitive ecological environment of Central Asia.
At the same time, air masses forming in the zone of ecological disaster evolved from the drying of the Aral Sea pose an explicit danger and have a severe negative impact on the nature, climate, and human health of those residing in the Aral Sea area and far beyond it.
The dust and salt storms transmitting severely harmful substances from the ground of the dried Aral Sea extend for thousands of kilometers and pose a real danger for the human health.
The position of Turkmenistan on the Aral problems is well known in the world today. During his speech at the Sustainable Development Summit “Rio+20” on June 22, 2012, the President of Turkmenistan underlined that the problem of the Aral Sea currently “reached far beyond the region and gained a truly global scope.”
That is why the establishment of the UN Special Programme for the Aral Sea basin was proposed.
With the aim of practical implementation of the given proposal by the world community in the person of the UN and upon the initiative of Turkmenistan, two Resolutions of the UN General Assembly on “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea” were adopted which created a firm basis for multilateral collaboration on the resolution of the Aral problems in the UN platform.
Expanding multilateral cooperation on the Aral course, the draft concept of the UN Special Programme for the Aral Sea was presented at the sixth Session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held in August 2019. Upon the results of consideration of the given document, the draft ESCAP resolution on the issues of further work on the mentioned Special Programme was prepared and is planned for consideration in the framework of the successive session of the Commission in May 2021.
Great attention to the resolution of the Aral Sea problems is also paid in the Regional Environmental Program for Sustainable Development in Central Asia developed in the framework of the chairmanship of Turkmenistan in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea during the period of 2017-2019 and approved by the resolution of the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development of the IFAS in October of 2019 in the city of Nukus of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Based on the above said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan is underlining the preparedness of the Turkmen side to continuation of wide multifaceted cooperation on the regional and international level on the counteraction against the pandemic, including the issues of detailed studying the impacts of exogenous factors on the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
With these aims, in the near future Turkmenistan is going to implement a set of further practical measures in the framework of implementation of the agreements attained with the international partners and aimed at strengthening of solidarity on the counteraction against the new type of infection.
Press service of the
MFA of Turkmenistan