Czech Republic and VFS Global extend visa service delivery to Georgia
The Government of the Czech Republic and VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments, commenced their visa application services for Czech Republic visas in Georgia today, with the opening of the Czech Republic Visa Application Centre. Catering to the growing demand of Czech Republic bound travellers in the region; this new initiative is aimed at offering new services, facilities and benefits to visa applicants, and boost tourism, trade and investments, and bilateral ties between Czech Republic and Georgia.
VFS Global will operate Czech Republic Visa Application Centre, located at 10 Kuchishvili street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0179
Mr. Prabuddha Sen, Regional Head - RCIS, VFS Global said, “It is our privilege to be the trusted partner to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tbilisi in providing services to facilitate visa application process for travellers in Georgia. We are committed to provide professional and convenient services to all applicants applying for a Czech Republic visa in the region. VFS Global is privileged to be associated with the Government of the Czech Republic in Georgia. This extension of our association with the Czech Republic Government reflects their faith in our abilities, and we are sure this will go a long way in forging a longstanding partnership with VFS Global.”
The key features of the new centre are:
- Conveniently located and easily accessible state-of-the art Visa Application Centre
- Longer operating hours allowing applicants to visit at a time of their convenience
- Professional and responsive staff dedicated to handle visa queries and applications
- Automated queue governance for smooth flow of applicants, providing better crowd management
- Dedicated website for easy access to information including visa categories, requirements and check-list, applicable fees and application status
- Dedicated call centre and email support to answer queries and status of application
- 100% secure handling of passports, documents and personal information
- In-VAC feedback kiosks and forms, and online feedback services for applicants to share their recommendations and feedback about the services
- Tracking of application status and SMS alerts for visa status update on mobile phones
- Door-step delivery of passports
Bank of Georgia Group receives support for energy efficiency and renewable energy loans
The EU-supported, multi-donor Green for Growth Fund (GGF) has provided a loan of USD 25 million to Bank of Georgia Group. The main aim is to support the bank in diversifying and growing its energy efficiency and renewable energy lending portfolio for large companies and SMEs, as well as public entities. Potential beneficiaries include manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries, as well as renewable energy projects.
Kaha Kiknavelidze, the CEO of Bank of Georgia Group commented on the new agreement with GGF. “This is our second co-operation with GGF, which will significantly contribute to the further improvement of our environmental footprint”, he said.
The Green for Growth Fund, part of the EU4Energy Initiative, invests in measures designed to cut energy use and CO2 emissions and improve resource efficiency in 19 markets across southeast Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova, the Middle East and North Africa. The fund provides such financing directly to renewable energy projects, corporations and municipalities or indirectly via selected financial institutions.
The GGF was initiated as a public-private partnership in December 2009 by Germany’s KfW Development Bank and the European Investment Bank, with financial support from the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Austrian development bank OeEB.
EU and UNDP helps the Parliament of Georgia to enhance its research and analytical service
The ongoing work and future plans of the Georgian parliament in reforming its research and analytical service were discussed on 20 December in Georgia.
The discussion was organised by the Parliament of Georgia with assistance from the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Parliament of Georgia has been making efforts to reform its research and analytical service since early 2018, aiming to supply MPs with evidence-based information, ensure high-quality research and provide impartial and comprehensive support to law making and government oversight.
In line with the newly adopted Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia, the reformed research and analytical centre will be registered as a Legal Entity of Public Law, which will make it more flexible in hiring professional researchers and working with donors.
The reform is expected to be completed in spring 2019.
The initiative is part of the ongoing institutional reform of the Georgian parliament supported by the EU and UNDP under their wider programme for stronger parliamentary democracy in Georgia.
Georgia: Ajara joins forces with EU and UNDP to boost rural development
The Government of Georgia’s Ajara Autonomous Republic (AR) agreed to contribute €230,000 to enhance the implementation of regional components of a €10 million EU-funded project “ENPARD-3: Improving Rural Development in Georgia”. The project is part of the Eastern Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) and it is aimed at promoting rural development and small and medium-sized businesses.
Under the agreement, in the period of 2018-2022, the EU, in cooperation with United Nations Development Programme, will assist in developing economic alternatives outside agriculture for families in Ajara’s rural areas and support the region’s government to develop and implement effective rural development policies.
The EU supports rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. Aiming to reduce rural poverty, ENPARD has been implemented since 2013, with a total budget of €179.5 million.
Salome Zurabishvili officially becomes the fifth president of Georgia
After taking the presidential oath in the historic castle of Telavi Salome Zurabishvili has been sworn in as the fifth and first ever female president of Georgia.
She will hold office for a six-year term.
In her oath, she promised to defend the Georgian constitution, independence and unity, provide for the security of the Georgian people and the prosperity of the entire country.
“I take responsibility to be the president of each citizen of Georgia. I appreciate those who did not vote for me. I am also aware some parties have a different position towards the recognition of my presidency. I will defend the freedom and rights of the citizens, I will be the guarantor of the rule of law. I will be sure to strengthen civil society and improve the political culture. Now, when I am the fifth president of Georgia, I am proud that we have managed to carry out the transfer process peacefully. One more democratic step has been made,” Salome Zurabishvili said at the ceremony which was attended by 150 high level guests from 55 countries.
She has also pledged to do all for Georgia's development and help the country achieve its major goals including Euro-Atlantic integration.
In her speech Salome Zurabishvili has emphasised that every former president has made their contribution to the advancement process of the country.
“Georgia is facing a great challenge now - Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied by Russia. There is the occupation line inside the country where our citizens are being kidnapped. This is not acceptable for a sovereign state. We are not going to tolerate this,” President Zurabishvili said.
A number of new regulations, including constitutional amendments, also came into force today.
The constitutional reform carried out in 2017 introduces a new model of government which is characteristic for a parliamentary republic, meaning that the next president will not be elected directly by the people. The new president after Zurabishvili will be elected for a five-year term by a special 300-member council starting in 2024.
President Salome Zurabishvili’s Inauguration Speech
After being sworn-in as Georgia’s fifth President at a ceremony held in the eastern Georgian town of Telavi, Salome Zurabishvili delivered her 25-minute inauguration speech.
Below is the official translation of Zurabishvili’s inauguration speech as provided by her office:
“Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Chairman of Parliament,
Your Holiness, Spiritual Leader of our Nation,
Excellencies and Distinguished guests,
My fellow Georgians, my fellow Abkhazian and Ossetian brothers,
My fellow compatriots living abroad, in particular those who came for this occasion and are here with us today.
I want to take this moment to welcome those who represent the descendants of our first political emigration. It is a powerful symbol that I have become President of Georgia as we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Georgia’s independence.
History’s circle has turned. A descendant of Georgia’s first emigration, forced into exile following the Soviet Red Army’s invasion has returned to this country to be sworn in as commander-in-chief.
As many times throughout its history, Georgia stands at the crossroads. Once again, we are facing great challenges. Telavi, the place we are gathered embodies this country’s history: its battles, its challenges and its achievements. The place I have chosen is somehow regarded as a historical “memory card” for the Georgian Nation. King Erekle fought for our country’s development and unity. He created the modern Georgian army and won numerous battles. He laid the groundwork for the creation of a modern European nation.
But it is also here in Telavi, that King Erekle’s plans to create a modern state, establish new standards and put our country on the path towards Europe, were shattered. It is here in Telavi that the country’s western progress was halted. Georgia’s opportunity to develop as an independent, united and strong country was blocked. Many factors were involved, including foreign interference.
Nevertheless, after restoring independence Georgia resumed its journey towards building a truly European state. We are now in a critical phase of this development.
Standing here in Telavi, our way forward is also clearly visible. Uniting the country, pacifying society, strengthening and establishing our place in Europe – these are our primary goals.
We wasted too many years in political divisions. As President, I will lead by example. I will demonstrate to my fellow citizens that national consensus is of utmost importance for Georgia’s development and unification.
It is not a political coincidence if I decided to take the oath of office in this city. I have decided to address the wider society from the very place where I failed to win a majority of votes in the election runoff.
I am thankful to everyone who trusted me with their vote in the elections.
I am grateful to the “Georgian Dream” party for supporting me as an independent presidential candidate. In doing so, it took a vital democratic step towards a Presidency that strives to stand above the fray of party politics.
I respect voters who did not cast their ballot for me. I am also aware that different parties have taken controversial positions, even regarding my recognition as President.
Regardless, I have a constitutional duty to be the President of all Georgians, to be the President of every citizen of Georgia from this day forward. Inclusiveness is of the main principles of democracy. The modern state is based on the premise that an elected President is duty-bound to serve each and every citizen.
I will do everything in my power to guarantee individual rights and freedoms. I will defend the rule of law. I will strive to strengthen civil society and further improve the country’s political culture.
But we should all work in the same direction. The independent media, the non-governmental sector, and every citizen can and should play a positive role in building a more united country.
Today, I have become the fifth President of Georgia. I am proud that the transition and transfer of power processes were managed in a peaceful and orderly fashion. In this regard, we have taken an additional step in this country’s democratic history.
I want to emphasize that all previous Presidents have made a contribution towards the creation of an independent and democratic Georgia:
One century ago, the leaders of the First Republic adopted a constitution which was regarded as modern and progressive for the time.
President Zviad Gamsakhurdia played the greatest role when he called for a referendum and proclaimed the act restoring Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Eduard Shevardnadze was the first to initiate the path towards Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space.
Mikheil Saakashvili, during the first stage of his presidency, laid the foundations of numerous significant reforms.
During the presidency of Giorgi Margvelashvili, new steps were taken towards strengthening the democratic process and reinforcing stability.
My promise is to take all necessary steps to make our country’s democratic development and its European future irreversible. Nothing can nor will hinder my determination to achieve these objectives.
The development of a modern state rests upon strong and lively regions. I made a defining decision in this regard. I choose to hold the presidential inauguration, not in the capital of Georgia, but in one of its regions, in the region of Kakheti.
A modern, European country requires the balanced development of the regions and the capital. Throughout our history in fact, Georgia’s provinces were its pillar and underpinned its strength. We should merge this historical experience with the modern European example.
The regions of Georgia have great potential. It is therefore important that we maximize regional opportunities for progress and open up new prospects.
My dream, a dream shared by all Georgians, is that as many people as possible, as many emigrants as possible, will return to their villages, to their abandoned homes.
This is an issue which entails great effort. It is premised on preserving ongoing relationships with those who live in those regions. Just as I am here today, with the people of Telavi, I will come to every region throughout my presidency. I will be with my people.
Georgian society is united around the issue of its European future. By electing me, the Georgian people yet again voted for the European path.
The EU association agreement and visa liberalization have opened up great opportunities for us, and we have solid support from our western friends and partners.
This process should be accelerated. The will of the Georgian people is expressed in the new Constitution: a forward path towards the European Union and NATO. Together with our strategic partners – the United States of America and European nations – I will take this process forward. I will make use of all my experience and contacts in international organizations and the European Union to achieve our common purpose.
We will consistently take active steps to reach those aims. We will deal with internal and external challenges honorably, accomplish reforms important to our country, and consolidate democratic institutions. Our goal is to reinforce our democratic credentials and become an increasingly mature democracy.
We will join Europe. But we must join Europe with our values, our identity and our culture.
We Georgians, with our ancient, rich and unique culture, based on Christianity, can make a contribution to the world. Georgian civilization can and should proudly take its place on the international stage.
The essence of Georgian identity is tolerance. Throughout centuries our tradition has been one of peaceful co-existence with religious and ethnic minorities. Georgia is uniquely known for never having experienced antisemitism. Because we live in a world where tolerance is increasingly challenged, we should strengthen this tradition of tolerance to inspire others. With this in mind, we should make Georgian culture and identity better known.
Culture is what a nation is based on. While our culture provides a strong foundation, it needs to be protected and attended to. Culture will be one of my main priorities. But culture without education is unthinkable. I therefore want to express my deepest respect to all teachers and educators. You are those who raise our children. In other words, you hold our future in your hands.
I will be the first woman president in the history of Georgia.
By electing me as President, we have demonstrated that Georgia is a progressive nation. 100 years ago, in the first elections of democratic Georgia in 1918, women enjoyed equal rights. 5 women were even elected as members of Parliament. These were exceptional achievements even by European standards.
Today, we have broken a new glass ceiling in Georgia’s longstanding history of women’s rights. We have taken another bold step – an example which still stands out as an exception in a world with only 11 sitting women Presidents. By taking this historical decision, we confirm that the role of women in Georgia is expanding. We demonstrate that equality is not a strange word.
Georgia is up against big challenges. Abkhazia and Tskhinvali* are occupied by Russia. The occupation line penetrates deeply into our country’s territory. Our citizens are abducted every day by a foreign power. This is unacceptable for any sovereign state. We will not tolerate this.
People living in these areas need more attention and security. We need to achieve a higher level of security. For this reason, we continue to closely cooperate with our partners and with the European Union’s Monitoring Mission. Cooperation with NATO needs to be increased and strengthened.
Reinforcing security in the Black Sea region is also one of our main priorities and will entail a higher degree of support from our western partners.
I will be actively involved in negotiations with our American and European partners to achieve our long-espoused goals as soon as possible.
Georgia’s defense capability depends on the professionalism of its armed forces, on their operational readiness and on modern equipment. Strong national unity is a political condition for all of the above.
I have the deepest admiration and full confidence in the armed forces of Georgia. I respect our soldiers and veterans. I want you to be sure that I will be fully involved in increasing the defense capabilities of our armed forces. Reinforcing the army and enhancing the defense of our country is my priority.
As Commander-in-chief, I condemn all recent attempts to divide the army on ideological and political grounds. They are totally unacceptable. Such actions damage our country and strengthen our enemy.
I will visit our soldiers in Afghanistan who fight side by side with our foreign partners. They are fighting against global challenges which present a threat to international, regional and national peace and security. Our soldiers fulfill their mission with dignity. Some have paid the heaviest price by giving their life in this battle.
Peace and stability are the main preconditions for the advancement of human society. A peaceful and stable Caucasus is necessary, not only for this region, but for the entire world. Georgia will have to strengthen its position in the Caucasus. We can regain our historical role in this region. We should shoulder our share of this collective responsibility.
As our neighbor in the Caucasus region, Russia has an obligation to fully recognize and implement international law and internationally recognized borders. That is the condition for it to be accepted as a full member of the international community and normalize relations in the region. That is the condition for it to establish equal and peaceful relations with its neighbors.
Georgia is located in a region that offers opportunities to implement interesting economic projects. We have to become the regional center of economic security and stability. To achieve this aim, it falls upon us to make our country even more attractive.
To implement this vision, we will need more initiative and innovation. This is the function and the obligation of our youth towards this country. This presents a positive prospect for the next generation. I am ready to support them fully by helping to attract foreign investment and promote the implementation of new ideas.
Keeping our society together entails solidarity.
Solidarity between generations has been a historical trait of this Nation. It should not be lost.
Social solidarity is a prerequisite of a healthy and stable society. Where there is mutual compassion, assistance, and support, there is stability. And with stability comes opportunities.
Solidarity means that we remember and support those who need to be cared for: vulnerable people, single mothers, people with disabilities.
I will stand with our refugees. I will stand with those families whose children have only heard about their roots from their parents. I know only too well the values that help these families survive – immense patience, steadfastness and hope. This very notion of hope is what binds us together as a society.
I do believe that Georgia will restore its territorial integrity. We have to remember that our fellow citizens are living in occupied territories. It is our duty to find a way forward and strive for reconciliation. We have a long shared history with both Abkhazians and Ossetians. We are relatives. We have families in common. We have no alternative but to find a way forward to help future generations in these regions. Today, as never before, the Abkhazian language and identity need protection.
Our country needs to stabilize and develop. We have strong human resources, economic potential, and a talented new generation. But we have to believe in ourselves and our abilities, and take responsibility for our future. I came to Georgia, I came back to Georgia, because I believed in my country. I believe in it now more than ever. It is our national duty to believe in Georgia’s future: an independent, strong, free, modern, tolerant and European country. That is the future of Georgia!
God Bless Georgia!”
Speech at the Reception of Korea-Georgia Friendship Night 2018
First of all, congratulations on the election of new president of Georgia.
Thanks to this, I am certain that relationship between Georgia and Korea will achieve development.
Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Georgia on December 14, 1992, the bilateral relations of our two countries have been developing smoothly on the basis of the principles of peaceful co-existence.
From the Korean side visited Georgia high level delegations such as, delegation of transportation committee of National Assembly on March, Deputy Minister of Interior and Safety on July for participation on OGP summit Tbilisi, Chief constitutional Judge to Constitutional Court of Georgia.
And from Georgia side visited Korea high delegation such as,
First Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Mikheil Giorgadze on Feburary,
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs George Sharvashidze on March,
Chief of Korea-Georgia Parliamentary Friendship Association Shota Khabareli on September,
Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Grigol Katsia on Global Infrastructure Cooperation Conference,
Member of Parliament Irina Pruidze on OGP Asia-Pacific Conference on October.
This is a good example of that mutual interest between Georgia and Korea is growing, and it gives positive dynamics on development of relationship between two countries.
Even more Korean companies have a strong interest and paying more attention to the Georgian economy because of its great growth potential, which was ranked on 6th position on Doing Business 2018.
The biggest economic project between two countries is Nenskra Hydroplant construction.
With the effort of recently newly appointed president, Mr. Kim Sun Young, K-water signed MOU with Government of Mestia, and is doing its best effort to accelerate the progress of this project
On October this year, KOTRA organized the visit of delegation of small-medium business to Georgia, Tbilisi, and they saw the great potential of Georgian market.
Regarding Tourism sector, many Korean tourists visit Georgia to enjoy its nature, historical and cultural wealth.
On September 2018, the growth of number of Korean tourists compare to same period of last year was 140%, furthermore, until the end of October, almost 13,000 koreans visited Georgia.
Until the end of the last year, this number was 7,200 people, and we can see that almost twice more Koreans visited Georgia already. We can expect much more growth next year.
In the field of Culture, I can see that the popularity of Korean Culture is growing.
On June this year, more than 500 students participated in K-pop Festival,
Also 2 days ago, on 1st of December, there was a Korean Culture Festival in Free University of Tbilisi, where participated many young Georgians, who enjoyed Korean songs and dance.
However in Korea, Georgian Language Lecture is opened at Hankguk University of Foreign Studies thanks to the ambassador Mr. Otar Berdzenishvili.
This is a really good chance to popularize Georgian language and culture.
From Korea will be dispatched qualified Taekwondo master, soon he will come to Georgia.
Georgia has strength on Judo, Basketball, Rugby and achieving great success on international competitions, so I hope that Georgia can this high success also on Taekwondo.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Such partnerships for progress, built over the past 26 years, do not come without effort, or affection.
All our guests present here have made contributions in different categories to the development of the friendly relations between our two countries.
I am very confident that the Republic of Korea will have more and more friends in Georgia and much more Georgian people will devote themselves to the development of the cooperative relations between our two countries.
To the further development of cooperative and friendly relations between Korea and Georgia,
To the good health of all the guests present here tonight,